Do Excuses Get in Your Way?

“I tend to ‘BS’ myself a lot,” a client recently told. me. Truth be told, he’s not the only person who does this!

Some common areas of ADHD “BS”ing include, as this client identified for himself, “excuses, rationalization, and digression.”

This is the first in a series of three blog posts addressing “BS”ing yourself (and others). Here we’ll look at excuses. 

Excuses: “The cat ate my homework!”

It’s not easy to live with a distractible, forgetful mind. And, it can be tempting to try to cover up for the times when something doesn’t get done by finding a convenient excuse.

As a coach working with lots of students, I’ve found that “excuses” can fall into several categories. Let’s look at excuses for missing or late work as an example:

Some of the excuses I’ve heard for not getting school work done in a timely manner are: “My friends came by.” or “I had a busy weekend.” Those “excuses” are actually just choices to do something else.

“The teacher didn’t tell us to do that.” or “I turned it in!” (when that’s not the case) are cover-ups  indicating that a student isn’t ready to take responsibility for his or her ADHD-related mistakes.

What about: “Well, I have ADHD, what do you expect?” (I am glad I haven’t heard that one!)

Or, “Well, it doesn’t really matter.”  Maybe sometimes that is true, but often, that’s really a sign of selling one’s self short, feeling defeated and reducing personal expectations rather than rising to the occasion.

“I forgot to write it down.” or “I left my notebook in my room.” are in a different category – these are real ADHD-related reasons for mistakes. They aren’t solutions to the problem, but they indicate a willingness to accept ADHD and to accept responsibility for the impact of ADHD symptoms on turning in schoolwork in a timely fashion.  When a student can make these types of statements, we are ready to address the problem.

A better way to cope!

As Elizabeth Prager writes in a blog post on Healthy Place,  “It’s one thing to say to someone, ‘I have … ADHD and that’s why I didn’t get this done,’ versus saying, ‘I’ve been struggling to complete tasks right now, but I can assure you I gave this my all.’ [The] first one sounds like an excuse, using ADHD as your ‘get out of jail free’ card. The second statement is more of a feeling statement where you’ve taken as much responsibility for the situation as your current state allows.”

Do you use excuses? 

So, here are some questions to ask yourself:

  • Am I taking full responsibility for my life?
  • What types of excuses do I make to myself for not accomplishing my goals?
  • What excuses do I offer others when I am not following-through with things?
  • What do I feel like when I am doing this?
  • What do I achieve by doing this? 
  • Am I selling myself short? 

If you don’t like you answers to these questions, consider coaching – we can work on this together!

Photo credit: Stuart Miles,

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