Coping Strategies For Failure: Making Excuses, Blaming, Complaining

Get Results: overcome blocking coping strategies
Get Results: overcome blocking coping strategies

If you’re guilty of saying the following statements, you need to sign up to my email list

  • I’m not getting quality leads anymore from [X]
  • [X] is not delivering[ Y], and that’s why my business is failing
  • People just aren’t buying anymore
  • People don’t want to pay for [Y] anymore
  • Everyone wants something for nothing these days
  • Too much competition, charging ridiculous prices, I can’t compete, they
  • won’t be around long, but long enough to hurt my business
  • There’s downwards pressure on prices
  • It’s a dying industry, technology is disrupting my business model
  • It’s much harder to make money in this industry now

All of these statements are excuses; they are examples of you complaining and blaming other people, organisations, circumstances, situations, and/or events for your predicament. They are COPING STRATEGIES designed to deflect responsibility from yourself onto others. This may seem like a good strategy, after all, if someone else is at fault for the position you find yourself in, then you don’t have to deal with the feeling of guilt for messing things up.

But in fact by blaming others, by complaining about how life has conspired against you, you are not just passing on blame, you are also passing power, the very power you need to get yourself out of the mess you find yourself in.

Until you TAKE RESPONSIBILITY for your situation, you will not be able to access your RESOURCEFULNESS. You need to have the right mindset to be able to make a sustained effort to make things right, and resourcefulness is required to find the innovative approach you’re going to need to succeed.

3 step method for success

  1. Increase SELF AWARENESS and banish the COPING STRATEGIES/mechanisms that are allowing you to accept your unsatisfactory situation,
  2. TAKE RESPONSIBILITY for yours and other people’s actions and the consequences of those actions on you and your business. You might think it’s harsh to have to take responsibility for what other people do, but at the end of the day, it’s you and your business that will have to pick up the pieces if things head south. So make sure you vet those that you invite into your life/business, either as friends, partners, investors, employees, suppliers or customers. Don’t rely blindly on others’, do your due diligence and have the necessary checks, controls and plan B contingencies in place to make sure you are living up to your responsibilities, for youself,
  3. Open up your mind to the possibilities, enabling you to access your RESOURCEFULNESS to find that innovative approach which is going to turn your fortunes around and allow you to achieve success.

Stop Making Excuses and Get Motivated

Get Results: do something for your future self
Get Results: do something for your future self

When it comes to moving closer to goals, by actually taking action, many people can’t even seem to get started. They come up with lots of excuses why they shouldn’t act. For example if you have a goal of becoming a successful business owner, or entrepreneur, you might say to yourself via your inner dialogue…

Justifications for maintaining the current status quo

  • It’s less risky to just keep doing what I am currently doing (not taking action)
  • I’m too busy with my current work and family schedule, I don’t really have the time to devote to pursue my goal(s). Working evenings will cut into my time with family an friends.

Possible negative consequences of taking action

  • It will take time, skills that I may not have
  • I could fail (so won’t take the risk)
  • I want to put myself in a situation where I’m being judged by others
  • People might think I’m fake, a fraud
  • I don’t know or might not know how to do it (what needs doing)
  • My idea isn’t good enough, or might not be good enough
  • I could waste lots of time, effort, money investing in something that just doesn’t work out, so why even bother
  • Success will mean working all hours and will have no time for family
  • I’m scared of pushing myself and doing things outside my comfort zone, because it’s uncomfortable
  • I don’t like asking people for help, and I might have to do
  • I don’t like asking people to buy from me, I just can’t sell
  • I might lose all my money
  • I might get ripped off by scam artist who takes advantage of my naivety
  • Talking professionally to people (in case they think I’m a fake)
  • I might be promising something I can’t deliver
  • I might ruining my reputation, when it’s very important to me
  • I don’t like giving presentations, pitching, speaking in front of customers, audience and might find I have to at some point
  • I don’t like the idea of putting myself out there and feeling vulnerable
  • I don’t like to rely /depend on other people, in case I get let down

If you’re trying to lose weight or get fit you might say to yourself…

Justifications for maintaining the current status quo

  • I love eating tasty fatty foods – they taste so good. I always have good intentions but when I’m hungry, I just give in
  • I want to watch TV rather than going out and exercising in the cold/at the gym

Possible negative consequences of taking action

  • Healthy food doesn’t taste as good as fatty food
  • Exercise is too hard, I don’t enjoy it, and can’t deal with the discomfort and pain

Issues with self esteem or even some degree of self loathing, can sometimes result in people finding comfort in binge eating, which further fuels self loathing and lowers self esteem. In such circumstances you should try to deal with the underlying root issues, as the eating is a manifestation of these, rather than the root cause.

Why you come up with excuses

This list of excuses, is your mind trying to rationalise the decision not to take action. On one hand you feel you should be doing something in pursuit of your goals, after all everyone says you should have goals, don’t they? On the other hand part of you fears taking the risk.

When you contemplate moving from your comfort zone, your current situation, and the routines and habits that you have, and maybe have had for some time, to something that feels new, you will naturally feel some level of fear.

You are hardwired, through evolution, to resist putting yourself in dangerous situations, and change is perceived as being potentially bad. Change equals uncertainty and uncertainty could result in risk and possible danger. Risk and danger is considered bad because your sense of self (who you see yourself to be) could be devalued in some way, and your survival instincts will do its level best to ensure this doesn’t happen.

All action is driven by the need to avoid pain and being destroyed, and all your actions are built on this one need. You continually strive for more, because being more means you are further away from being nothing. The more you have, the more you are. So you’re not a freak because you’re not taking action, you’re trapped by your fear of change, uncertainty, risk, danger, failure, you might even be fearful of success, or at least the consequences of success (no time to spend with friends and family, responsibility etc).

Moving beyond fear

So now we know why we aren’t taking action, we can move on to working out a strategy for overcome these limiting thoughts and beliefs.

The first thing to consider is how real these perceived dangers are and how seriously are they likely to impact you, should they materialise.

Without knowing your personal situation in more detail, it is difficult to give a specific answer, but general fears can be looked upon in the following ways:

Being judged by others

With regards to being judged by others, if you had more self confidence or self esteem, other peoples’ opinions would matter much less to you. Sure, we all like to be liked, but being dependant on other peoples’ opinions, is not healthy. You will tend to make up stories about how and why this and that person doesn’t like you, which is usually nothing more than a fictional story of your own invention and more about your own judgements of yourself, rather than theirs.

If another person doesn’t like you, and you know this for sure, because they have actually told you so, and for XYZ reasons then at least you know, rather than suspect. You can either try to adjust your behaviour, if you agree that it is unacceptable, or ignore their views, if you disagree. After all they might be accusing you of behaving unacceptably when they are the ones with the insecurities and esteem issues. Remember they are being driven by the same insecurities and fears that you are, and putting yourself in their shoes through empathy, allows you to realise this. They might be lashing out because of their own pain, rather than it being you.

I believe if you are truly joyous and genuinely happy and aligned inside, you have no reason to attack or belittle another person. Anger, frustration, fear and all negative emotions come from insecurities and pain within you, which is already there, but just being aroused by the situation you’re reacting to. Check out my wellbeing guide for more information, particularly the equation of emotion part which details how negative emotions are created.

Not good enough

If you believe you’re not good enough or not up-to-the-job. Try to understand where these thoughts are coming from. Again your self-preservation instincts will try to protect you from risky situations, but you can move beyond this by identifying your weaknesses and educating yourself into mastering them.

Low self esteem and lack of belief in yourself can be embedded deep into your psyche from early childhood, when you were very impressionable and filtered your experiences less. If your environment at an early age was not supportive, maybe you were continually told you were not good enough, or were not given enough love from one or more of your parents, whom you craved love from. Or you were discouraged to take risks or do things outside the norm, being told not to do something “for your own safety”, or told to fit in and not stand out, these fears and insecurities might still be lingering in the background of your mind, influencing your present decision making and possibly sabotaging your goals. None of these things can be considered as “truths”, they were opinions and actions from people who themselves were in some degree of pain, and may well have been just passing on their own insecurities and fears through their actions and words.

You can be good enough if you’re willing to make the effort and put in the work. If you don’t want to make the effort then you’re probably not going to get far, for that reason. Check out my work ethic article for more.

Now a caveat. Talent has a part to play in success, particularly when you’re competing with others to get to the top. You should look to play to your strengths, and you will have strengths as well as weaknesses. We all have weaknesses so don’t feel bad about them. I would love to be a singer, unfortunately I can’t hold a tune, I’m terrible, really. I could probably improve with training and purposeful practice, but I would never be able to go beyond my physical limitations. I might, with lots of practice, get good enough to perform at a certain level but I would never be at the top of the tree. Such limitations are true of some activities, singing, I would say is one, some kinds of sports that rely on certain physical characteristics and prowess, maybe another. But there are many more things that don’t have such limitations, you can practice and practice and become better, and be as good as you want to be.  Often hard work trumps talent, when talent doesn’t work. Check out my article on self awareness, because this is key to identifying your strengths and weaknesses.

Fearing success

You might have an inner conflict of wanting to be successful, while at the same time fearing the consequences of success, like having no time for friends and family or relying on other people or being ripped off, or having to shoulder responsibility for yourself and others.

The best thing to do is examine these conflicts and resolve them. If you don’t want to work all hours and miss time with family and friends, then find a lifestyle business that doesn’t depend on your presence so much. Many large businesses have managers operating the business on behalf of the owners, so scale could work in your favour after the initial building phase. Some businesses, such as online businesses can be worked on around family time, or be outsourced/delegated to someone else. If you first, identify the conflict and confront it, you can then work out a solution to move beyond it. If you can’t resolve it, maybe you should drop that particular goal and find a different one that best suits who you are. It’s really no good trying to put a square brick into a round hole (check out my article on self awareness).

Conflicting wants

Wanting one thing (your goal), but also wanting something that is counter-productive to that goal, is obviously problematic. For example if you want to lose weight, be lean, get fit, but can’t resist eating fatty foods such as chocs, snacks, sweets, burgers and the like, you have a conflict of wants. You might have good intentions, but when the temptation is there, for example having chocs in the cupboard, you find it almost impossible to resist, without having a huge amount of self control and willpower.

Another example: If you want to get an assignment done, but can’t resist watching your favourite sports team playing, or can’t face pulling yourself away from the TV, then you have a a conflict of wants.

One solution is to avoid putting yourself in situations that provide temptations or distractions. If you’ve no chocolates in the cupboard, you can’t eat them. If there’s no TV, you can’t watch it. It all comes down to deciding your priorities.

Personally I can work on my laptop, while sat in front of the TV and remain 100% focused on what I’m doing. This means I don’t feel I’m having to lock myself away or miss out on anything. It encourages me to work more frequently and intensely, and really, the TV, even with the sound on low, doesn’t distract me. I find I’m more productive working that way. Find what works best for you.

Giving yourself a reason to take action

Life is all about making choices. You will take the action that drives you most. You will take the action that NEEDS to be done or else…., or that you really WANT to do. Check out my article about getting into a WANT or NEED state of motivation.

Give yourself a compelling reason to take action and you’re more likely to take it. Motivation has many elements, check out my motivational guide here.

Stop Being a Victim and Start Being a Victor

Get Results: Be a victim or a victor
Get Results: Be a victim or a victor

Life is full of ups and downs. Some things we can influence, others not so much. Many situations will be made up of winners and losers. It’s just the way life rolls.

You might not always be able to dictate the terms of your life, but the one thing you have complete control over is how you deal with the ebbs and flows.

You can either position yourself psychologically as a victor or a victim.


The blame game

Victim mentality looks for other people or other things to blame for failure. They blame their circumstances, their lack of support, resources, money, time, know-how, their boss, they just blame. Blame helps to make the individual feel better, because it wasn’t their fault. One of the hardest things to admit is your own inadequacies. It’s really hard to look yourself in the mirror and admit you messed up at some point. Your Ego would rather cover up your shortcomings and have you believe the blame is over there, somewhere else.

Excuses are useless

Victim mentality is quick to find excuses for why things didn’t fall right for you, or didn’t work out the way you wanted, and for the same reason as pointed out when discussing “blame”, it’s just easier to do.

Denial is delusion

Denial is another self preservation tactic. Burying your head in the sand and hoping it goes away is a form of self delusion, failing to admit the reality of the situation is another.

Victim mentality is aimed at self protection, it’s a defensive tactic aimed at cushioning the blow. If you admit you were wrong your subconscious sees this as a big deal, cause if your wrong in a life or death situation, you could be toast. Your mind, doesn’t want to admit this could be the case, cause that’s what the minds there to do, keep you safe. It’s better to delude yourself, that way you can move on more quickly and try to forget about the whole sorry episode.

It’s easier to blame, excuse or deny, rather than have to look deeper into where the mistakes really lay, so laziness is part of the problem when it comes to a lack of self-analysis.

Live to be a Victor

If you take a Victor mentality, you empower yourself to really look at what went wrong and why. You might not be a victor of the situation, in that you haven’t won in absolute terms, in fact you’re likely to have lost. But by taking a victor mentality, you can at least learn any lessons that are there to learn.

Negative situations are inevitable at some time in your  life. S**t happens, but feeling sorry for yourself doesn’t really serve over a prolonged period. Feel the grief of loss, feel the hurt, sure you should always face it full on and deal with it, but then learn what needs to be learned and move forward. Don’t hold on to the past negativity, just take the lessons forward with you.

Unless it’s a real life and death situation, most things are not that important in the great scheme of things. Money can be earned again, stuff can be replaced. “People”, and “Time are the two things worthy of real grief, and while they are beyond the scope of this article, even they should not be seen as a dead-end that can not be moved beyond. They surely can, with the right “victor” mentality.

The law of opposites says there are always positives in any negative, if you look hard enough and approach from an empowered perspective. Take ownership and responsibility. It’s your job, nobody else’s. Sure use the support of those closest to you to help you through emotionally, but don’t expect them to provide the answers for you, the solutions are within you, they are there, if you open to them.

So instead of playing the victim, blaming, excusing and denying, take ownership, take responsibility and be accountable for the situations you find yourself in, and use them as your strength for improvement and progress.

Improve Results by Taking Responsibility

Get results: take responsibility
Get results: take responsibility

This article is about taking back responsibility for your actions and results. Without this your results will be limited, based on someone else’s agenda and out of your hands.

Before we talk about why taking responsibility is important, I thought I’d describe what people are doing instead of taking responsibility.

Not even trying

When people try to do something important they have to feel it is within their power and capability to get the job done. If they don’t feel confident they can see it though,  they are much less likely to even make a start at it. It becomes a pipe dream with little chance of realisation.

Sure some things can be delegated to experts to do for you, and that’s fine if that’s the case, but the responsibility for finding that expert is still yours, and if that expert turns out to be a failure, it’s your fault.


People are quick to make judgements about how external influences impact their lives. They like to complain about all sorts of things, such as what the government is doing to them, what their local councils are doing to them, what their neighbours, their boss. their work colleagues, their friends and family are doing to them. They complain about the weather, the traffic, suppliers, customers, big business, other voters, the car, the train service providers, other motorists, the list goes on. We like to complain, particularly in Britain, where we’re a nation of complainers. The recent EU referendum has perfectly illustrated the fact that we like to complain about others for the mess we find ourselves in now. “It was the leave campaign that got us into this mess”. “They lied to us”.


People are always blaming external elements for making their lives more difficult. They  use all sorts of excuses why they didn’t achieve something, or to blame failure on some external event, person or thing. They didn’t have enough support, didn’t get the breaks, got let down by a supplier, bank bailed on them, weather ruined the day, lacked the time, money, knowledge, resources, got duped, were mis-sold.

We resist change

Many of us push against change because we hate uncertainty and ambiguity. We like to think we are safe in our comfort zone, we’re familiar with our surroundings and what is expected of us. There is a perception of stability in the status quo. In reality this is an illusion, particularly with the way technology is impacting all our lives. Things are moving faster, and we have to be prepared to move with them, otherwise we’re going to be left behind.

Relying on others

People generally like to rely on others for guidance, help and support. Many people like to be followers rather than being leaders, partly because if the proverbial s**t hits the fan, they can blame someone else for the failure. Lots of people don’t like to lift their head above the parapet for fear of being shot down, criticised, rejected. The result is they play it safe and fail to make progress.

Take back Responsibility

Change brings Opportunity

If we don’t push beyond our existing capabilities we’re confined to the world we currently inhabit. Our comfort zone becomes our limit, but as technology impacts our lives more and more that world is going to get a lot smaller over a short amount of time. To push beyond our little bubble, we have to break through our boundaries. This can be scary, because we are conditioned for self-preservation, and part of this means we prefer certainty and the status quo over change and uncertainty which brings with it, risk. We as human beings hate risk, and the unknown because risk equals danger. Instead see change as opportunity. There will always be winners and losers in any given situation. mentally position yourself to be on the winning side, by looking to take advantage of the opportunities that present themselves. Be predator of opportunity rather  than a victim of circumstance.

Complaining and Blaming are pointless

What good does blaming someone or something else for a failing do anyway? It might temporarily make you feel better about yourself because someone else messed up, it wasn’t you, phew. But after that initial relief, where does that leave you. You still haven’t achieved your aim. Instead you’ve tricked yourself into staying put and accepted the failure, instead of learning from and moving beyond it.

Abdicating control of the situation, and believing your life is subject to some unalterable master plan is also dis-empowering. Burying your head in the sand, might fool you, but the reality of the situation is unchanged.  Having a victim mentality, blaming external circumstances for your problems, believing it’s not within your power to change, is the surest way to avoid improving your life.

Failing to take responsibility only delegates control, responsibility for your life still resides within you (whether you like it or not).

When you complain about or blame others or something else, you’re trying to pass responsibility to that same thing. In doing so you also pass power. The very power you need to be able to deal with it.

Eckart Tolle rounded it perfectly when he said “When you complain, you make yourself a victim. Leave the situation, change the situation, or accept it. All else is madness.”

Be determined to win

When you say to yourself, whatever goes wrong is down to me, you allow yourself to take ownership. Instead of fearing failure, embrace it, learn from it and make it the fuel to power through and find a way to succeed.

Instead of allowing glass ceilings, plateaus, and obstacle to defeat you, accept the challenge and find a solution to overcome them. If you fail again, come at it from a different angle, keep going, don’t use external elements as an excuse to give up.


It’s not what happens to you that matters, it’s what you do about it that counts. Stop blaming circumstances, it’s not circumstances, it’s you. Really, it’s you. Things won’t improve unless you do. You know, the truth is liberating because you can have more than you’ve got because you can become more than you are. The other side of the coin, unless you change what you are, you’ll always have what you’ve got.  It’s not a lack of resources (money, time, experience, support, skills, opportunities, connections) that’s the problem,  it’s a lack of resourcefulness, by you, to find a way through. The only way to make progress is to take back responsibility for your actions and results. Rely on one person to take charge of your destiny, and that has to be you.

It’s fine to get outside help from experts, but know that it’s your responsibility to make sure they are up for the challenge. If they fail, it’s because of you. You didn’t get the right person for the right price. You have to take responsibility for your life, after all it’s yours, nobody else’s. Don’t fear the challenge, embrace it, be excited by it.

For more about motivational influences, check out our Motivation guide.

If you would like to read more articles focused on TAKING RESPONSIBILITY, click here.

Thought of the Day Quotes (more thoughts here)

“There are winners and losers in every situation. Instead of complaining and blaming, make sure you’re mentally and emotionally positioned to win. Be a PREDATOR of CHANCE rather than a VICTIM of CIRCUMSTANCE.”

Get Results: be a predator of chance
Get Results: be a predator of chance

“BLAMING and COMPLAINING are excuses not to TAKE RESPONSIBILITY. They are COPING STRATEGIES for failure, they are a CHOICE to play the role of victim. Without them you have the power you need to TAKE ACTION and SUCCEED.”

Get Results: Take Responsibility
Get Results: Take Responsibility

“Make Things happen by doing what matters.”

Get Results: Make things happen by doing what matters
Get Results: Make things happen by doing what matters

Take Responsibility Quotes

“Placing the blame or judgement on some else leaves you powerless to change your experience: TAKING RESPONSIBILITY for your beliefs and judgements give you the power to change them.”

“Passing blame passes power to do something about it. Take responsibility.”

“More people would learn from their mistakes if they weren’t so busying denying them.”

“The moment you take responsibility for everything in your life is the moment you can change anything in your life.” – Hal Elrod

“It can be a painful thing to look at your own trouble and know that you yourself and one one else has made it. But not admitting it, doesn’t change the fact. Instead own it, learn from it and move forward.”

“Mistakes are always forgivable, if one has the courage to admit them.”

“You’re free to do whatever you want, but you should always take responsibility for the consequences of your choices in life.”

“There are two primary choices in life: to accept conditions as they exist, or accept the responsibility for changing them.” – Dr Denis Waitley

“The more you take responsibility for your past and present, the more you are able to create the future you seek.”

“Your attention please: No one is coming to save you. This life of yours is 100% your responsibility, whether you accept it or not.”

“Responsibility is the price of freedom.” – Elbert Hubbard

“When you choose your behaviour, you choose your consequences.” – Dr Phil

“Accept responsibility for your life. Know that it is you who will get you where you want to go. No one else.”

“Part of getting a second change is taking responsibility for what you did wrong in the first place.”

“There are valuable lessons to learn from failure, but in order to learn them, you have to take responsibility for them.”

“Responsibility shouldn’t be considered a burden, it’s a consequence of your freedom.”

“With freedom, comes responsibility.”

“Responsibility: the ability to choose your response.”