Stop Giving Reasons or Excuses for All Your Behavior

Most people want to be agreeable and well liked. The challenge becomes when our desire to be liked and agreeable interferes with or supersedes our ability to set healthy boundaries.

 

One thing I find myself saying over and over again to my more passive clients in my therapy and coaching sessions is: “Stop giving reasons or excuses for all of your behaviors.”

 

As simple as this sounds, this can be a lot more difficult than people think. First off, one has to realize that they’re doing it and catch themselves. Sometimes that sounds like, “I’d like to, but (insert reasons).

 

Indeed, I’ve done this myself in the past. For example, sometimes clients would ask me, “Hey Steve, can we meet at 5pm this Friday?” Honestly, I don’t like taking late Friday appointment or weekend appointments. I did these as a younger therapist, but now the time spent with family is more important to me.

 

In responding to their request, my initial reaction was usually to explain why I couldn’t take the appointment. “I have a dinner date with my wife or I’m traveling this weekend, etc.,” I had subconsciously practiced in my self-talk that “I need to provide reason and justifications for my behavior.” Now, however, I realize that “I have the right to not give reasons or excuses for my behavior.”

 

Today, if someone asks me to do an appointment that doesn’t fit my schedule, I simply say, “unfortunately, no.” It’s not rude – it’s short and direct. I can still give a reason if I choose to, but I now realize that I don’t have to.

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