Why People Can't Stop Making Excuses, Even When They Definitely Need To

Why are you not saying "yes"?

woman in a hat looking concerned getty

If you have the habit of making excuses and repeatedly saying "no," you have your reasons why. But, others may not see it.

For instance, have you ever had a conversation like this?

"I don’t want to and that’s my final answer."

"But why? I don’t understand."

"Do I have to give you a reason?"

"Well, yes. I know you’ll enjoy this."

"My reason is 'No. Final answer.'"

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Why are you making excuses?

Is it difficult for you to accept requests or invitations? Are you always having conversations like this with everyone? From your point of view, you’ve said "no" and your partner is just not getting it.

From your partner’s point of view, you’ve missed the point entirely and are just not hearing them.

And your partner could be right — maybe you did miss the point and just aren't seeing an opportunity. You’re closing a door that your partner wants to open.

It happens all the time. Other people invite you, make requests of you, and challenge you.

Sometimes, the invitation thrills you so much that it’s easy to accept. Sometimes, you just have to say "no." And, sometimes, you say "no" for no good reason at all.


There are many sound, healthy reasons to say, "No, thank you."

It may be that dessert, however tempting, doesn’t fit into your diet plan. It may be that a request conflicts with your religious or social beliefs. It may be that skydiving is an activity that's too risky for your taste.

There are people who will attempt to push you past your boundaries — don’t let them.

And then there are the other reasons: self-limiting reasons that prevent you from growing to your full potential as a human being.

You can distinguish between sound and self-limiting reasons by examining your motives thoughtfully and honestly. A trusted partner — family member, friend, significant other — can help you in the process.


How do you distinguish sound reasons from self-limiting excuses?

Sound reasons include physical constraints and prior commitments.

"I don’t eat shellfish because I’m deathly allergic to shellfish."

"I’m not available because I have surgery scheduled for that day."

You've already committed your effort, time, and money to other activities and are unable to say "yes" to a new request.

Sound reasons protect your priorities and core values.

If the suggested activity isn’t a priority for you, just say so. "I don’t have the time" and "I don’t have the money" as all-encompassing blanket statements are excuses.

Your time, and money, and effort follow your priorities. You make the effort to do those activities that are important to you with the people who are important to you. It’s OK to simply say that you have other priorities.


RELATED: Stop Using 'Bad Timing' As An Excuse For Your Relationships

Self-limiting reasons, also known as excuses, are designed to protect you and your ego from any potential harm.

At a moment’s notice, you can pull an unexamined reason from your mental "excuse" closet and unwittingly hold yourself back, overlooking the opportunity another person is presenting.

"I’ve never tried this before and I know I won’t like it," and, "I tried this before and I didn’t like it" are common excuses used by children for refusing to eat vegetables and other "strange" foods.

However, you cannot dislike sushi until you’ve tried it. And a new intimate relationship isn’t guaranteed to fail just because the last one exploded like a hand grenade.


"This isn’t me" is much the same. You might be too shy, afraid, or embarrassed. Yet, you’ll never know what might happen until you try, despite that awkward characteristic (or two) of yours.

Face your fears and you can choose anything. Boldness, courage, and self-confidence can open up your life and are well worth pursuing.

A failure of the imagination can also create self-imposed limits, inhibiting your ability to grow.

"I never imagined myself taking a standup comedy class."

"I’m too old and out of shape to begin martial arts."

Without attempting something new today, you’ll simply be a day older tomorrow. Accept the challenge and you could be a day older and even funnier or physically stronger tomorrow.


Ever think, "Why are you always telling me what to do?"

Resentment, one of the ugliest cloaks hanging in that sinister closet, can cause you to react defensively rather than respond openly.

Your mom says, "Put the milk back in the fridge" and you think, "I’m an adult. I know where the milk belongs." Your mom loves you — keep this as your second thought.

"I don’t need to do this because..." is another standby excuse hanging in the closet, ready for any fill-in response.

This is an arrogant "I’m already accomplished" excuse. You could be competent, experienced, well-informed, or very smart.

However, nobody, including you, is perfect, you don’t know everything, and you haven’t experienced everything. Try something new today — it might be exhilarating.


You may offer "I don’t want to" as an acceptable "final answer." This is the fallback position of a stalemated adult and slams shut a door to growth.

The superhero power of a toddler may be "No!" but that doesn’t work well for adults. Few enjoy filing income tax returns, but you cannot say "no" to the IRS without penalty.

It just doesn’t work, not with the IRS and not with other people.


If you’re always saying "no" to people, you may want to look a little deeper into the reasons you give yourself and others.

It takes courage to be honest with yourself about what you gain by saying "no" and yet that is exactly what is required.

So, stop making excuses for new things and get out of your comfort zone.

The next time you make an excuse, take a moment and shine a spotlight on your motivation.

Examine it. Determine if you have a sound reason or merely an excuse that's holding you back, shielding you from imaginary hazards, and preventing you from being gracious with other people.

Yes, the world is a risky place. Always has been. Always will be. Give up your next excuse and accept the request.


You may be glad you made the leap.

RELATED: 11 Limiting Beliefs That Are Seriously Holding You Back In Life

Susan Kulakowski, MBA, is a writer who has been actively pursuing personal and professional development since 2017. Her focus is on making personal development courses available for children and their families. Visit The Relationship Mastery Institute on Facebook for insights on relationships, communication, and love.