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The Excuse Blow-Out Pattern ~ L Michael Hall PhD

Have Excuses Held You Back ?

Sabotaged your Success ?
Prevented you from Becoming Empowered ?
Once upon a time I worked with an Expert Excuse Maker. He had an exquisite ability to explain why
he couldnt do this or that, why this or that NLP pattern has never had any impact on him, and why he
didnt believe that this would help either. He was an expert at excusing himself from being
responsible, governed by the same principles and rules as others, and why he just couldnt do NLP
on himself.
At first I challenged the excuse itself.
So when you make a picture of your home and especially of your kitchen ... and you see or sense
being there, you cant make that picture move away and get smaller ...
Well sure, I can do that. Thats not what I mean.
Oh, so the part of doing NLP on yourself is that you cant see the more resourceful you, the you for
whom doing NLP on yourself is no problem, and think of some time or event or situation where it
might be hard and swish your brain to the Resourceful You. Is that what youre saying ?
Well no. I can do that ...
So you can do NLP on yourself ! I said interrupting him.
No, not really, not where it counts.
And so this went on for some time, he excused every counter-example as not really what he meant. I
next pointed out this pattern of discounting the counter-examples and continuing to excuse himself
on the grounds of vagueness. As he began to recognize that pattern I then asked him if that really
served him well.
Does this really enhance your life and empower you to do the neuro-linguistic magic that you very
well know how to do ? is this what your life is about ?
Upon getting a strong No to that and amplifying that No until it felt strong and decisive, I then
asked him if he would be willing to say No to his excuses, to stop giving them any power, any
credence, any validity. He said Yes.
So you are fully willing to take a stand here and now, this day, to stop giving your power away to
these wimpy little excuses that have been sucking the life out of you ? Youre wiling to give up the
pleasure of excusing yourself from adventure, risk, growth, contribution, expending energy and
living life with more gusto ? Youre willing to stop taking counsel of your excuses when you know
good and well that they are but excuses ?
Yes I am ! he said with more strength and determination and fortitude than I had ever heard from
Really ?
Definitely !
Then do it. Imagine one of those wimpy, silly, non-sense and power-draining excuses trying to get
you to excuse yourself from life and imagine saying No ! to that excuse with firmness and
NO ! he shouted and stomped his foot.
I paused and let the sound of the strong and definitive No settle, then I said Good, that was great ...
now as you imagine some of your highly desired goals, well-designed outcomes, those that fit your
values and fulfill your mission ... just take a step now forward allowing any silly, wimpy excuse to be
stomped under foot.
And he did.
The Birth of a New Pattern
Thats how this pattern began. Just a conversation with a person who wanted to be more congruent,
more authentic and more aligned with his own values and visions. A few weeks later I received a call
from one of his friends who had noticed a significant difference in him and asked me about what
process I used. I detailed out what I could remember of the steps and he said Well it really blew out
that old excuse, Ill tell you that.
And with that I received the name of the pattern The Excuse Blow-Out Pattern.
Exploring Excuses as a Meta-Level
Since were talking about a mental phenomenon, an excuse, we should begin by clarifying
precisely what we mean. So here it comes.
What is an excuse anyway ?
What kind of a language form is an excuse ?
How do we create and store and carry excuses with us ?
How do we discern an excuse from a true reason ?
We all create excuses. In fact as children most of us became pretty skilled at inventing excuses for
getting out of things. Something would break or an accident would occur and some adult would ask
about its cause and we would explain why we should not be held accountable:
She made me do it.
He looked at me in a funny way.
I was tired.
It just slipped out of my hands.
And so our career in excuse making began. Then as we learned more sophisticated ways of thinking,
reasoning, arguing etc we became even better at the art of excusing ourselves from responsibility. We
even learned we could excuse ourselves by excusing ourselves.
Im sorry; excuse me, Im such a klutz, I never do anything right.
And surprisingly that often not only gets us off the hook, but brings others to our rescue.
So what precisely is an excuse ?
Originating from Latin, ex- and causa (cause or explanation), an excuse is a an explanation about the
cause of something. And why would we want to explain a cause ? Typically to explain away our
part in the cause. In this way we invent excuses in an attempt to remove blame from something, as an
appeal for a pardon, and/or as an exemption or release from something. When we make an excuse
we offer a way of thinking, reasoning and arguing in order to relieve us from responsibility. When we
do this we create a set of representations so that our ability to respond does not play front and center
to the experience. This makes an excuse a set of ideas, beliefs and understandings about various
factors, causes and contributing influences that brought something about.
Linguistically an excuse is a noun-like term that designates a set of actions. This makes it a
nominalization ... a pseudo-entity that has no external reality, but only exists in the head as a way of
thinking and punctuating our understandings about causation. Excuses do not exist out there, they
only and always exist inside.
This means that an excuse involves a meta-level frame of reference that we use to put some action or
experience into a different box. Accordingly we can now categorize excuses in various ways.
There are legitimate excuses true causes or influences and illegitimate excuses reasons that hold
no water, explanations that dont make any sense. Accurate reasons enable us to understand how and
why we cannot legitimately blame or accuse ourselves or another. Inaccurate and illegitimate
excuses try to cover up true responsibility to escape consequences. Stupid and silly and wimpy
excuses that deserve no attention and only sabotage our ongoing development and effectiveness.
When We Use Reasoning for Excusing Ourselves from Life
Good excuses are those healthy and legitimate reasons that allow us to consider various constraints
in reality: physiological constraints, social constraints, time constraints, relationship constraints,
health constraints etc. We should listen to these and intelligently work with them. I typically excuse
myself from working 24 hours in a row. There would have to be some kind of emergency situation
before I would override that basic health constraint. I excuse myself from chasing an idiot driver
down the highway because Im not authorized to do that, dont have the time, dont have the
resources to do anything about it if I caught the driver etc.
There are a lot of good excuses. These comprise valid explanations that we use as we conceptualize
our world and our role in it. But then there are the bad excuses ... those silly, wimpy and stupid
reasons that we use to dis-empower ourselves, undermine our effectiveness, let ourselves off the
hook from assuming responsibility for ourselves etc. And it is these kinds of excuses that we need to
address. So, whats your reason for not doing something that you really want to do ?
Are you using a frame of true explanation or a mere excuse that just gets you off the hook so that you
dont have to look at what you thought, felt, said or did and take corrective action ?
Are you just excusing yourself from work, energy, emotional investment etc ?
Are you just reverting to a more infantile style of coping ?
Some wimpy excuses arise as just old habits, reactive responses with little thought to it. I would
begin to work my plans but its just not the right time ... but Im just too tired to exercise ... but I might
get embarrassed ...
When we find some actual excuses then we have a sick and ill-formed reason that were using to
prevent ourselves from having to face consequences. And that only prevents us from using pain to
alter our way of acting.
Do you have any of these false reasons, these excuses that you are sick and tired of ? that does not
serve you well ? that may be stopping you from achieving some of your hopes and dreams ? then
bring it on and lets blow it out.
During the past 25 years NLP has not had an official Blow Out Pattern for Excuses but no more. Now
there is no longer any excuse for failing to blow out our excuses. Now, after all these years we finally
have a pattern for actually blowing out excuses.
So would you like to have the ability to eliminate excuses in your life ? What if you could eliminate
any or all excuses ? Would you like to be able to facilitate the process of blowing-out excuses in the
lives of others ?
In order to do so we would have to understand the structure of an excuse (how we excuse ourselves
from things) and how to utilize our knowledge of that structure as we eliminate it. Here the meta-
levels of Meta-States exposes the higher neuro-semantics of excuses.
An excuse involves a multi-level structure so that at the primary level we have a desire to achieve or
do something, but at a meta-level (a meta-state) we have reasons that prevent us, that prohibit. We
have justifications that allow us to excuse ourselves. We have disbeliefs that prevent us. We have
prohibitions that forbid us from. We have skepticism that bathe the desire with doubt. We have ideas
that cause us to discount the desire.
We often have patterns whereby we both want to do something and cannot get ourselves to take
action. This leads to maladaptive patterns and fills us with negativism, reluctance and avoidance.
The Excuse Blow-Out Pattern:
1: Access an Excuse
i: think of something you want to do thats very important to you, an outcome that you know
is well formed and ecological for you, something that would really improve the quality of your life
and yet ... just as soon as you do, you find that numerous excuses come to mind which stops you from
acting on your desired outcome.
ii: what would you like to do about X (work, career, health, fitness, relationships etc.) ? Take
a moment to imagine just going ahead and doing that thing ... and then notice what happens. How do
you excuse yourself from it ? Listen to your internal voice.
The first step here involves accessing a state wherein you feel an excuse. Now feel that excuse.
Notice where you feel it in your body. What does it feel like. In your body?
How do you know to call it an excuse ?
Remember, we are going after silly, wimpy, stupid and un-useful excuses with this pattern, not
legitimate reasons.
2: Quality Control the Excuse
i: is it just an excuse ?
ii: do you want this excuse ?
iii: do you need it ?
iv: does it serve your life at all ? does it enhance you or empower you ?
v: if there is some part or facet of the excuse that you might need or want to preserve, what is
it ? what facets of the excuse may serve a positive purpose for you ?
3: Preserve the Values of the Excuse
i: take a moment as you go inside and preserve any part of the excuse that might prove
useful to you in some way at some time. Suck out of the excuse any element (a value, belief,
understanding) that could be useful. Suck it all out so that the rest of the excuse remains as an empty
shall, devoid of any usefulness at all.
ii: notice the value of the reason an understanding, belief or state that you want to keep
with you ... note it and store it as something you can have apart from this particular stupid excuse.
iii: is it now just an excuse ? just an empty shell of an excuse ? [Yes]
iv: if not, repeat until you just have an empty shell of an excuse left.
4: Reject the Empty Shell of the Old Worn Out Excuse
i: access a strong NO ! state, a Hell No ! state. Amplify that state of Rejection, Refusal or
Disgust that comes out as a No fully until you feel it very strongly. Anchor it spatially in a spot and
feel it in your hands and in your feet. Let it radiate throughout your body.
ii: when you have it accessed very strongly, imagine the empty excuse immediately in front
of you and step into that excuse with the NO ! state and Stomp on the excuse with the power of your
Hell No ! Stomp it to the ground.
5: Test
i: now imagine the desired activity thats ecological and notice what happens as you think
about moving toward it ... What do you feel ? What comes to mind ? Do you have any excuse lurking
that you might use to excuse yourself from life, love and commitment ?
6: Access Your Executive Decision State
i: will you do this ? will you allow it to become an attractor in your mind so that as you think
of this activity, how you will do it will simply become a matter of discovery and of building the
resources so that you can and will, will you not ? Go to the part of your mind that makes decisions
and commission it to go ahead and decide to engage in your desired activity.
Using the Excuse Blow-Out Pattern
We came up with this pattern in May 2000 and have used it on various excuses excuses that people
have used from exercising, staying fit, eating right, practicing a skill, launching a new venture,
reading and researching, becoming the most extraordinary Neuro-Semantic Trainer you can be etc.
Excuse Exploration moves us up the levels of mind to our understandings, expectations,
history, memory, imaginations, beliefs etc. In so exploring these higher levels we flush out meta-
level dragons that may be threatening from behind the curtains and creating a sense of fear,
apprehension, dread etc. The reason for the first step, for actually activating a movement toward a
goal is that excuses often hide and dont show themselves until we begin to act. Then they come out.
Then they make themselves heard.
The reason we then use the ecology check to Quality Control our excuses is to sort and separate
between legitimate and rational excuses and illegitimate and irrational excuses. Some excuses are
valid, useful and intelligent. Some reasons, understandings and evaluations do indeed excuse us
from a particular course of action ... temporarily or forever. I have some reasons that excuse me from
going ahead with my love for gymnastics and going to the Olympics. I have some reasons that I
consider pretty legitimate that I use to excuse myself from many other activities that I do have some
interest in.
By Quality Controlling our excuses, we flush out
legitimate / illegitimate
reasonable & rational / unreasonable & irrational
appropriate / inappropriate
timely / untimely
fitting with Social Reality / ill-fitting to current Social Reality
Typically most excuses suffer from the lack of precision and specificity. That is they are too over-
generalized. Accordingly as we simply inquire and explore the specifics: when, where, how, with
whom, according to what standard etc we purge the excuse of its fluffy and fuzziness and make it
much more specific (this is the Meta-Model Strategy). Frequently thats enough. Doing that leaves
the excuse as a mere empty shell of an excuse with no power to stop us.
Access your No ! and Stomp on it.
Sometimes however, there were some valuable understandings, motives, intentions and values,
within the excuse that we want to preserve and keep with us as part of the way we sort and separate.
We may want to use such as part of our criteria for making decisions in a given domain. Accordingly
we separate the chaff from the wheat and keep the wheat. This allows us to lose nothing and gain
everything. It creates a mental clarification about our goals and how to get there. It allows us to
become much more intentional in our stance and everyday orientation.
Once we have a mere excuse, an empty shell of an excuse ... we kinesthetically access a strong sense
of rejection, No ! or even Hell NO ! Then expanding that to our entire body, into our hands and feet
and then getting a sense again of moving toward that goal, we take a step forward into tomorrow
stomping on the old empty shell of an excuse. This helps to future pace the process so that the excuse
blow-out pattern begins to generalize into the way we move through the world.
The final step comes from the meta-stating process of the Secrets of Personal Mastery. Here we
move to the part of your mind that makes decisions and commission that higher executive level to
take responsibility for solidifying this new understanding as a higher frame of mind. This confirms
and solidifies the process and enables us to sustain the benefits of the pattern.
{{ Im looking for an NLP procrastination specific technique, meanwhile wonder if:
excuse = procrastinate = excuse }}