People who don’t practice what they preach often use these 12 phrases

We’re surrounded by hypocrites and by people who tell others what to do and how to behave but who don’t do the same. 

The worst thing about them is that we find them in all walks of life, from parents and teachers to politicians and policymakers. 

We could see some of the worst examples of this hypocrisy during the lockdowns. When most people couldn’t even step out of their homes, hypocritical politicians were throwing lavish parties.

But people who don’t practice what they preach are often easy to spot because they use certain phrases that uncover their hypocrisy. 

So, let’s dive in and find out what they are. 

1) “I had no choice”

When someone says this, they’re trying to avoid responsibility for something that goes against their usual stance. 

It can be as harmless as, “I know I said no more late-night snacks, but I had no choice. The cookies were calling my name.”

But it could also be used to justify things that are clearly harmful and even against the law. 

For example, many people explain their corruption by saying that if they didn’t take the money, someone else would have taken the bribe anyway, so it might as well be them. 

Is this fooling anyone? Of course not. It’s just mental gymnastics that helps them act immorally.

Plus, don’t be surprised when they act holier-than-thou in front of you.  

2) “Times have changed”

Times are always changing, but for some, they’re changing as the wind blows. That’s why, when caught red-handed, people who don’t practice what they preach will simply mutter that times have changed and think that that justifies their behavior. 

This is a simple excuse for changing their behavior or beliefs. It’s like saying, “I used to say no to junk food, but now I’m saying times have changed, and I’m indulging.”

They also don’t see how this correlates to other things they’re preaching, and that’s why they still remain on their moral high horse and tell others what’s right and what’s wrong. 

3) “You have to be flexible”

This is a way of saying it’s okay to bend the rules, even if they usually preach strict obedience. 

It’s like someone advocating for a budget but then saying, “You have to be flexible” when they overspend.

Like many other phrases on this list, they’ll only say them once they’re caught in the act. 

Until then, they won’t bat an eyelid and will keep doing whatever they want, even if it’s against what they’re preaching to others.

4) “I’ll do better next time”

This is a promise to improve, but it’s often said when someone realizes they didn’t follow their own advice. 

Once again, someone who preaches a lot has been caught with their hand in the cookie jar, and now, when faced with consequences, they’re promising they won’t do it again.

But can you really trust them going forward? It depends. Many people have a complete lack of control over their actions, yet they’ll tell you what, when, and how to do without seeing the irony in it.  

5) “It’s complicated”

Life is complicated, right? We all know that. That’s one of the reasons why I don’t like telling people what to do, especially if I don’t know what their situation looks like. 

I can recommend something or tell them what I’d do in their shoes, but that’s about it. 

But when someone says, “It’s complicated,” they’re trying to make an excuse for doing something they usually advise against. 

It’s like saying, “I know I said always be on time, but this time it’s complicated.” 

6) “I’m an exception”

Too many people think they can do whatever they want, no matter how their actions hurt others

Again, they’ll tell you what to do and even get angry if you don’t listen to their, often bad, advice. 

When claiming they’re the exception, but you should do something nevertheless, they’re arguing that their situation is special, so the usual rules don’t apply to them. 

It’s like someone preaching about saving money but then saying, “I’m an exception; I had to splurge on this.”

Or when your doctor tells you to quit smoking, but then you see them outside doing just that. 

7) “You don’t understand my situation”

This is an attempt to justify actions by suggesting their circumstances are so unique that others wouldn’t get it. 

It’s like saying, “I know I said no more shopping, but you don’t understand my situation; I needed those shoes.”

But the thing is, they don’t have any qualms telling you what to do even if they don’t fully understand your situation, right? 

I’ve learned that many people like sticking their noses where they shouldn’t. They simply think they have more knowledge about everything than you do. 

And while wisdom is great and you should listen to wise people, remember that not every person older than you is wise or even wiser than you.  

8) “I was just joking”

This is a way of taking back something they said or did that opposes their usual perspective. 

It’s like someone advocating for kindness but then making a mean comment and saying, “I was just joking.”

For many people who don’t practice what they preach, it’s their “get out of jail free” card. They think that by saying this, they’re excused. 

But, of course, that’s not the case. Or at least it shouldn’t be. 

9) “Don’t judge me”

When someone says this, they’re trying to avoid criticism for not following their own advice. 

It seems that people who preach to others can’t wrap their heads around the fact that everyone’s different and that things that work for them might not work for others. 

They also won’t hesitate to judge others for even the most minor things that they think you did wrong. 

I’ve heard people asking others not to judge them after they’ve done something that was outright harmful to their relationship, kids, family, etc. 

I see this as if a paparazzi was asking for privacy when all they do is harass and take photos of others. 

10) “You have to do what you have to do”

This is advocating for practicality over principles. Imagine a student who emphasizes academic honesty is caught cheating on a test.

They then tell you: “I know I said always do your own work, but sometimes you have to do what you have to do to pass.”

That’s practical but terrible. 

From that point, you can’t trust anything they say or do because now you know they’ll justify their egregious behavior in any way they want. 

11) “I’ve changed my mind”

I don’t have any issues with people changing their minds. I mean, I do it regularly, and I’m pretty sure you do, too. 

In fact, it would be stupid not to change your mind about something once you get new information about it. 

But if you change your opinion back and forth or use this to justify harmful behavior, you’re a hypocrite.  

12) “Life’s too short”

Life really is incredibly short, but this phrase is used to justify doing something enjoyable, even if it goes against their usual principles. 

It’s like someone preaching about saving money but then saying, “Life’s too short; I treated myself with a Mercedes.”

What can you say to such a person if they, for example, kept telling you not to eat avocado toast and drink Starbucks? 

There’s nothing you can say but to call them out. 

Final thoughts

I wanted to include a couple more phrases, such as, “Do as I say, not as I do,” “I’ve got my reasons,” or “It’s not the right time,” but I think you get the picture. 

People who like to preach to others are incredibly annoying because you simply know that they themselves aren’t not doing what they’re telling others to do. 

Also, too many times have authority figures been caught red-handed doing egregious things while commanding others to do the exact opposite. 

Adrian Volenik

Adrian has years of experience in the field of personal development and building wealth. Both physical and spiritual. He has a deep understanding of the human mind and a passion for helping people enhance their lives. Adrian loves to share practical tips and insights that can help readers achieve their personal and professional goals. He has lived in several European countries and has now settled in Portugal with his family. When he’s not writing, he enjoys going to the beach, hiking, drinking sangria, and spending time with his wife and son.

If you want to be a truly confident man, say goodbye to these people-pleasing behaviors

People who refuse to say these 11 things in a social situation are more socially intelligent than most