People with anxiety and depression make enough excuses. Rather than help us excuse ourselves, offer encouragement.

Stop Making Excuses For People With Anxiety and/or Depression

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Okay so this might be just a little bit of rant post, but please know it is not at all in anger. But I am assuming because this is a struggle for me, it may be for you as well. The struggle is this: I don’t need your help making excuses for my shortcomings. Trust me, I am plenty good at coming up with them myself.

When I say, “I hate going out of the house,” I do not need for you to encourage me to stay in. Things like, “I can’t imagine how hard it is for you to get out with all four kids,” may be your way of showing kindness, but it is enabling me to not push myself and it is the exact opposite of what I need.

Fairly recently, I was talking to my mom about how messy my house had gotten again. I said, “I am so sick and tired of struggling like this. I mean, I know what I need to do. I know how to fix the issues but it’s just so hard to do what needs to be done.”

My wonderful, amazing, caring mother then said to me, “Don’t be so hard on yourself. I mean, I don’t know many people who are handling four kids on their own without help from anyone.” Guess what I did? I sat down on my butt and I said, “She’s right. This is too hard so why should I try?”

My mom was not trying to make me stop. She was trying to help me to be more kind to myself which is a great thing. But rather than making excuses for me, there are quite a few things I wish she could have/would have said instead.

So for those of you who love someone who struggles with some of the cycles I’ve discussed regarding mental health, let me give you an idea of some things you can say instead of making excuses.

1. “Don’t Be So Hard On Yourself”

While this one does definitely have its place, and we do all sometimes need to be reminded to forgive ourselves and to give ourselves grace, this one can be damaging as well. We all need to be hard on ourselves sometimes. If we just fall over and say, “This is too hard,” nothing will ever get done.

Worse yet, we will never meet our full potential. So next time sometime is telling you they want to improve their life and they are at a point where they hate where they’re living, offer up some encouragement instead. Maybe try something like, “How can I help you make it better?” Or even, “Do you want to brainstorm some steps to move in a more positive direction?”

2. “It’s Not Your Fault.”

Never tell someone, “It’s not your fault”, if you’re not completely sure it isn’t. I can cast blame on other people SO easily, when really I just need to take some responsibility. So instead of helping others pin their blame on others, why not help them see it for what it is in a kind light.

“We all make mistakes, it’s what we do afterwards that matters,” can be a great line. You might also try something such as, “We can’t change what’s already happened, but how can I help you to go forward?”

3. “As Long As You’re Doing Your Best.”

The truth is, very few of us are ever truly doing the absolute best we can. There is always room for improvement. I can’t tell you how many times I have confided in someone about something I am struggling with and they’ve responded by saying, “As long as you’re doing your best, that’s all that matters.”

But the fact is, I’m not doing my best. I don’t even know how to do my best. Yes, I know of some things I am sure would help my anxiety and my depression. But some days I am just focusing on surviving and I completely purposely ignore those things in an effort to accomplish something else.

So while yes, I would love to say I am doing my best at blogging, being a mom, being a wife, and being a servant of God, I can’t. And you probably can’t either. So why not drop the cliche and try something a little more honest such as, “I know you’re working really hard at this”?

4. “I’m Amazed At How Well You Do Handle Everything.”

This one may be a great way of admiring someone. But it is not a great way to respond to someone on the verge of shutting down. While I certainly get the meaning behind it, this comment sparks an inner voice that says, “Yeah. I’m already doing a lot. I deserve to slack on this.”

In reality, that’s really not true. Just because I spent time cooking a great meal, doesn’t mean the dishes are suddenly going to wash themselves. In fact, I’m almost positive they won’t. And I’m also positive that they’re a lot easier to wash before all of the food gets stuck on them.

So just because I handled dinner is not an excuse not to handle clean up as well. Rather than giving someone permission to stop what needs to be done because of prior success, try something such as, “You’ve done so well already, I know you can handle that little bit!” Or, “I’ve already seen how hard you can work, just keep going, you got this!”

To Make It All Short and Sweet

Quit making excuses for those you love and start encouraging them to do and be better. Don’t give them permission to quit but show them you have confidence in their ability to do more. Now that being said, don’t become a tyrant and try ordering them around or insisting they never sit down.

Leave the control up to them, but let them know you fully believe in their abilities to succeed. Even better, offer to help them out along the way in whatever way they may need.

People with anxiety and depression make enough excuses. Rather than help us excuse ourselves, offer encouragement.

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10 comments

  1. Ajay Sharma

    Well you have almost eaten my words 😂😂.. I believe in everything you said. Was a great read and very well put forth!

  2. Ajay Sharma

    Well you have almost eaten my words 😂😂.. I believe in everything you said. Was a great read and very well put forth!

  3. Quin Cl

    This article is so helpful. We need these tips to interact properly with our loved ones who have anxiety and depression.

    1. Jennifer

      Thanks so much for stopping by and I definitely hope it was helpful for you.

  4. Nyxie

    This is certainly a different way of looking at things. While I think we need to express some self-love to ourselves and be compassionate with our shortcomings, I do honestly believe that we also need to draw a line under it at times. We need to become comfortable with discomfort and push ourselves to go beyond our comfort zones, lest we be stuck in the same routine forever.

    Very well written. It’s interesting to see it from a different angle.

    1. Jennifer

      Hey Nyxie, thanks so much! Self-love is very important. But self-pity and complacency is nothing but destructive for me. I fully believe we need to love ourselves enough to know we deserve better than our current situation and do what’s needed to get us there. 🙂

  5. Kez

    It’s actually a fine line between enabling self distructive behaviours be saying things like, “It’s okay to..” and pushing too far by encouraging someone when they’re not physically/mentally able to do things.
    Both can have negative affects if done at the wrong time, so sometimes it’s more of a case of reading the situation before offering input.

    1. Jennifer

      I definitely agree with that Kez! That’s what I was trying to convey with my comment about not being a tyrant. It definitely does take some discretion for sure. But kind, gentle encouragement such as I have offered in this article, I believe, is always welcome and is much more constructive than pity.

  6. Shannon

    I used to volunteer in a peer support centre and we used to talk about listening. Sometimes people say these things because they don’t know what to say, when all you wanted them to do was listen.
    I like the what you said about responding with offer of help or brainstorming because it empowers. Taking responsibility is so important but what I’ve found is that it is not at all the same thing as accepting the blame for something. Blame is just about deciding who fault the situation is and really gets you nowhere but taking responsibility especially with help to act can do so much more.

    1. Jennifer

      I couldn’t agree more Shannon! Blame is detrimental and doesn’t do anyone any good at all. Thanks for your insight!

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