The kind of action each makes is the difference. See, a reason propels us into forward action. The reason I didn’t clean the bedroom is because I was waiting to do the cleaning after the big party on Friday night. This is forward action because it implies that we are determined to clean the room, just at a later, more appropriate time.
An excuse usually holds us back. I didn’t clean the room because I didn’t know what goes where. That statement justifies the lack of action but doesn’t give any indication of when the responsibility will be dealt with. That holds people back. If being action-oriented, the next logical question might be, can you show me where everything goes so I can do it tomorrow? We’ll notice that the question will not be asked with an excuse. That question does transform an excuse into a good reason.
And that’s an important point, too. If we have a habit of making excuses, the first transition may be to simply try to transform them into reasons. When we catch ourselves, just ask, “What do I need to do next in order to move forward in this?” We still need to be careful, though. If we have a habit of consistently using the same reasons, then chances are that those reasons are now becoming excuses.
Ron Hale talks about another attribute that is associated with excuses. That is, guilt. This is another way of determining whether a reason is really an excuse. Let’s ask ourselves, “Do we feel guilty from this justification?” If we feel guilty, then we are making an excuse. The good news is that most people don’t want to feel guilty. So at this point, we’re killing two birds with one stone. That is, getting out of our guilt, and moving towards positive action.
In another perspective, it doesn’t matter if we have a reason or an excuse. Neither of them really matters because we always do what we want regardless. We just have reasons and excuses to justify our actions. Sometimes, it is better to say nothing and just do what we want.
Because we live in the real world and often need to be accountable to others, we’ll still have times where we need to justify our actions. In those times, let’s lean towards reasons. Pope John Paul II says, “An excuse is worse and more terrible than a lie, for an excuse is a lie guarded.” The “hidden truth” is usually what we really want to do but don’t want to admit to anyone else. Decide to do it because it is the right thing to do, or decide to be honest about not doing it.
Let's love the world together...
Danish Ahmed, blind visionary