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Reason or Excuse?

Excuses. Or great reasons? That's where we left off in the previous article.

How do you know the difference?

First of all, we'll look at reasons. A reason explains why you did what you did:

I fixed lunch because I was hungry.
I took a nap because I was tired.
I threw out the leafy green kale because it was spoiled.

Explaining why you did what you did. Simple.

Within the category of reasons is a sub-group we call excuses. Here's what makes excuses special:

An excuse is a reason that attempts to excuse your behavior. It occurs in a very special situation -- where you believe you should have done one thing, but instead, you did something else. An excuse is your sometimes feeble attempt to explain why it really wasn't your fault. You just had to make the disempowered choice!

At least that's what you're trying to convince everyone. It's certainly what you're trying to convince yourself. That you were justified in acting in a particular way -- even if it's not getting you the results you want in life -- even if it's not consistent with your values -- because some external force compelled you.

Let's intervene for just a moment. This process is often unconscious. You believe your very survival is at stake. You've learned to compensate in a particular way, and even though it isn't working, it seems way too risky to try something new.

So in a way, coming up with grand excuses isn't your fault. You don't know any better. Yet. But you could learn! And that learning might just mark the difference between a life you hate and a life you love.

Back to our comparison examples. Let's do "reason vs. excuse" so you can get the distinction.

I fixed lunch because I was hungry. Reason.
I stopped in for a McHappy Meal, even though fries aren't on my heart-healthy diet plan, because it was a rough morning and I deserved a break today. Excuse.

I took a nap because I was tired. Reason.
I didn't get my taxes prepared over the weekend. See, I was really, really tired. Excuse.

I threw out the leafy green kale because it was spoiled. Reason.
When I got home from the store, I was just too exhausted to put the produce in the refrigerator. It sat out on the counter for 3 days. By that point it was spoiled, so I threw it out. Excuse.

About this last one... No, I didn't make it up. A number of years ago, a client told me this exact story about why she couldn't include green vegetables in her weight loss diet. "I just can't lose weight," she said. She imagined herself cursed.

Ok. There you have the quick and dirty on reasons vs. excuses. Next, we'll take on one very special type of excuse!

Want more? Word Cures: How to Keep Stupid Excuses From Sabotaging Your Health takes on the top 21 excuses that people say keep them from pursuing their best healthy choices. And right now, the Word Cures Starter Kit is on sale. Call it ... Spring Fever!

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Elizabeth Eckert can help you explore how simple everyday choices create health — or undermine even the best of intentions. With a background that ranges from energy medicine to structural bodywork to developmental psychology, this "Stick-To-It Coach" has the experience to support you in creating the healthiest possible expression of — you!

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Elizabeth Eckert, Healthy Living & Wellness Coach

Elizabeth Eckert, PhD

I enjoy observing human nature and helping people be healthy. I'm author of Word Cures and creator of the WordCures.com healthy living website. (more)

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Note: The information and ideas offered here are personal opinions of a general nature. No opinion posted here constitutes medical advice, either general or personal. If you have a health concern, please consult with your medical doctor and follow his or her advice. The author disclaims responsibility for any misuse or misinterpretation of any opinion posted here.

(c) 2006-09 Elizabeth Eckert

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