Editor’s Note: This is a contribution by Lindsey Kasch
“People are always blaming their circumstances for what they are. I don’t believe in circumstances. The people who get on in this world are the people who get up and look for the circumstances they want, and, if they can’t find them, make them.” ~George Bernard Shaw
Excuses. We all make them.
We make them for everything all the time without even realizing it, pointing the finger at someone or something else, anything or anyone but ourselves.
I didn’t think I made excuses. Blaming people? Who me? No way!
Once I took a real, hard look at my life I realized I was full of excuses and blame—excuses for why I was always running late, why I couldn't start living a healthier life, do the dishes, go out on a Friday night, or call someone back.
Excuses for why I couldn't do this or that, why I wasn't good enough, why my life wasn’t what I wished it was, why my financial situation wasn't the best, why I was upset at someone.
You name it, I had an excuse. I blamed everything and everyone under the sun for why I couldn’t do this or have that, why I felt a certain way, why I wasn’t fulfilled or happy. Nothing was my fault or my responsibility. This was hard to see and even harder to finally admit.
What increased my self-awareness about the excuses I made was a cold, hard dose of reality when I broke up with my fiancé and boyfriend of five years. I chose to leave because it didn't feel right, but it left me shattered and heartbroken. It became painfully clear that I really had no idea who I was.
I was forced to figure myself out. For the first time ever I was being honest with myself. Brutally honest—honest about everything! Before this happened I had never once stopped to think about my choices and how they had affected my life and the people around me.
I used to think that life happened and I had no control over it. Things happened to me. Life was hard and unfair. It wasn't my fault that I wasn't happy or didn't have what I thought I wanted or needed. It was the fault of those around me.
Since I wasn't happy or fulfilled, I thought it was my boyfriend's fault. For years I put that responsibility in his hands. I never took responsibility for my actions or myself.
By putting the responsibility of my happiness in his hands I was setting us both up for failure. Figuring this out was just the tip of the iceberg. It made me realize just how often I made excuses and passed blame in all areas of my life. No wonder I wasn't happy!
You may not think you make excuses or pass blame. You even may find yourself getting irritated when you notice other people doing these things—so how could you be doing them yourself? Or maybe you’re ticked off that I’m insinuating that you do.
I challenge you to start taking a look at yourself. Pay attention to your choices, your decisions, and your reasons for doing (or not doing) certain things. You might be surprised to find just how many excuses you make on a day-to-day basis.
Don’t judge yourself. Just notice what comes up. Really pay attention.
When we continue to make excuses and blame others, we are actually giving our power away.
We are telling ourselves that we have no control over our behaviors, our decisions, our lives, and our feelings. That is just not true!
When we blame others for what we’re going through, we avoid responsibility and perpetuate the problem.
Excuses hold us back from being the best we can be, from being honest with ourselves and living authentic lives.
I didn’t understand what any of this meant until started practicing taking responsibility for myself—all of myself. I practiced owning my thoughts, actions, decisions, and feelings. I practiced being honest with myself. I still practice these things, every day.
The key word here is practice.
My boyfriend and I ended up getting back together, but things are different now. We are in a much better place than we were before. In our time apart I learned so much about myself. Most importantly, I learned that the only person responsible for my happiness is me!
Being honest with ourselves isn’t easy. It’s hard to take the finger we’ve been pointing at everyone else and turn it around to ourselves.
We have to be compassionate with ourselves. It’s not easy to start looking at the parts of ourselves we aren’t proud of. It’s not easy to admit how often we do these things. It’s hard to take ownership of our mistakes and problems.
Love and accept these parts of you. It doesn’t mean you did anything wrong.
I really believe that we are always doing the best we can.
Once we gain awareness of things we want to change about ourselves, we can’t turn around and be mad at ourselves for how we acted in the past. We can only make changes if we’re good to ourselves.
From there, we can start taking full responsibility for our lives instead of making excuses and blaming other people.
This can be hard to do, especially if there seems to be a valid reason to blame someone. For example, say your boyfriend or girlfriend leaves you. Your world is shattered as a result of their actions.
Yes, they left. Yes, they did something to hurt you. You can be sad, brokenhearted, and mad. But stop there. Don't let their actions ruin your life.
You have the option to let their decision define you, or you can accept what happened, feel all of your feelings, take responsibility for yourself, pick up the pieces, and move forward.
If you let your life fall apart because of something someone else did, you are choosing to do that.
It's up to us to take situations like this and learn from them, letting ourselves grow and change.
When I started practicing being honest with myself about my choices and my life, I realized that I am in control of my own happiness. This realization changed me. I actually started to really enjoy my life.
Taking responsibility for my life forced me to actually start living it.
The only way we can truly be happy is to realize that our thoughts, emotions, actions, and decisions are our responsibility and no one else's.
That is a beautiful thing. No more excuses. No more blame. Just the choice to take our power back and start living and loving our lives.
Photo by ANDR3WA