How To Stop Making Excuses
How to Stop Making Excuses
We were late to school a lot last year, and every time we ran breathlessly into the attendance office I heard myself making silly excuses to Beth, the long-suffering secretary.Our alarm didn't go off! There was so much traffic! It was my husband's fault! The dog…I don't know—something about the dog!!
Breaking the pattern
By the spring, my "tardy-lying" had become a habit, and it raised a red flag for me. Lying—even in the form of "harmless" excuses—means we're ashamed. Shame is different from guilt. Healthy guilt is fair, helpful and empowering. Guilt says, "Shoot, I'm late again. Oh well, mistakes happen. I'll get up earlier tomorrow." Shame is more dangerous. It's dramatic, accusatory and crippling. Guilt says, "I screwed up." Shame says, "I'mscrewed up."
Nothing ruins the connection between two people faster than shame and lies do. Anyone trying to live a healthy, honest life must avoid shame at any cost. And since I'm trying to live a healthy(ish), honest life, my excuses were keeping me from my goal. So I vowed to make it right.
I want my kids to learn that it's OK to make mistakes and to know that mistakes can actually be the good stuff: Our imperfections can be a point of connection with all the other imperfect people out there. Freedom comes when we're brave enough to say, "Actually, I'm not fine—I'm having a hard time with this." And it's comforting when we inevitably hear the response, "Really? Me too!"
The next time we were late, I went to the attendance office and when Beth asked me to fill out my tardy slip with the reason, I told the truth.
"We Meltons are quite tired, very disorganized, and a little rebellious."
Beth looked down at that form, then slowly looked up at me. She smiled a real, warm, big smile and her blue eyes twinkled. She started laughing. Hard. So I did, too. And so did my kids and the other secretary. Then the principal, who'd come out to see what all the laughing was about, started howling.
We had a delicious, freeing moment together. We're all imperfect human beings. We make mistakes. Every single one of us. It's OK to tell the truth about that. It's OK to forgive ourselves and promise to try again.
Forming lasting bonds
When I tell Beth the truth, I'm really saying, "I'm not perfect, but I forgive myself, and I hope you do too." We no longer just play our secretary/mom roles. We're friends. She texts me pictures of my kids when they come to the office to request their millionth Band-Aid. She held my hand and talked me through a difficult season in my marriage. I'm so glad she's one of the first people I get to see every morning. These days she's actually disappointed when we're on time. We don't like to let her down, so we make sure that doesn't happen too often.
Video: 10 Ways to stop making EXCUSES - #OneRule
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