Counselling in Wokingham – Excuses, Excuses

Paul Cockayne – 07791 970406paulcockayne3@gmail.com

Welcome to my counselling blog. You can find more information about me by clicking one of the links at the top of this page

It’s been over two weeks since I posted a blog entry – I’ve been busy – I just haven’t had time.

Or have I?

excuses3In reality, I have had time, but I’ve chosen to do other things, which were maybe more important, or more fun, or more relaxing. But the time has been there, and my failure to blog has been a choice rather than a necessity.

We hide behind these expressions, don’t we? “I haven’t had a second” – “I’ve been too busy” – “My hands are tied” – “I have no choice” – “I’m sorry but I can’t help you” – “I forgot”. Of course sometimes these reasons are genuine but often I think we use them to hide the fact that we are making a choice that we fear will be unpopular. It is easier to offer an excuse that to explain the real reason – “I did think about doing it but I couldn’t be bothered” – “I could help you if I chose to but actually I think that what you’re asking me to do is unreasonable and I’m not going to do it” – these statements are likely to lead to a confrontation, and that is something that most of us prefer to avoid.

If we use excuses too often with the same people – whether friends, families or work colleagues, they stop being believable. “I’ll do it tomorrow” might work for a couple of days, but beyond that people will start to doubt you, not to take what to say at face value, to mistrust you, to lose respect for you.

excuses2When this dynamic enters a relationship, it can create a downward spiral. The excuses can grow into lies – increasingly elaborate lies. The seeds of mistrust can grow into deep suspicion, and feelings of anger and betrayal can develop.

Most, maybe even all, successful relationships require mutual respect and trust. I am not just talking about intimate romantic relationships, but relationships between family members, friends and work colleagues. Mutual respect and trust are generally slow to build, but can be quickly destroyed – and once destroyed are much more difficult to build for a second time.

excuses1Respect and trust are important in our relationships with other, but also, perhaps even more so, in our relationship with ourself. Just as we can make excuses to others, we can make excuses to ourselves – “I’m going to give up smoking but not yet because I’m very stressed at the moment” – “I was going to mow the lawn but it looked as if it might rain”. And yet we know that these things are just excuses, really, and so an internal dialogue can develop in which we mistrust ourselves, are suspicious of ourselves, become angry and negative about ourselves.

There is, I suppose, a place for “little white lies” in our interactions with others. If they don’t get found out, they have done their job, and everyone is happy. But beware of the little white lies you tell yourself – they’re bound to get found out….you can’t fool yourself!

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About Paul Cockayne

Counsellor, musician, iPhone developer, games-player, cheese-lover....
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