Imagine something you really want to do and have been wanting to do for a while now. This can be something big, like starting your own business or something small like taking some time several times a week to read a book or learn something new. The key point here is that it is something you’ve been wanting to do for quite some time now, but you still haven’t done it.
This is a pattern; as soon as you start with the sentence “I’d really love to play the piano again” you move right into your list of excuses like: “but I can’t take time away from my family” or “it’s a silly idea because I’m too old”, etc. , you do this on autopilot and subconsciously, meaning you are not in control of this.
Now, you may be arguing it’s not an excuse, but a valid objective reason for why you “can’t” do what you say you want to do. After all, excuses are for more irresponsible types of people and that is certainly not you.
But how do we know whether it’s a reason or an excuse?
The distinction is that you look for excuses. You have to find them. And they are often things you have heard other people say in similar circumstances. Either you do the thing or not and when you don’t do the thing, then you seek out a justification. Or you might even decide on an excuse in advance. Maybe you keep a pre-prepared excuse on hand at all times.
You don’t look for reasons. They find you.
Excuses cover up the outcomes of our own behaviour.
Reasons explain the surrounding uncontrollable context.
Reason implies that fault is sincerely recognised and accepted…. and that you take accountability for your actions.
An excuse exists to justify, blame or defend a fault…with the intent to absolve oneself of accountability. An excuse will NEVER be followed by positive, goal-directed or solution-oriented behaviour.
A reason, on the other hand, is a stimulus that causes something to change or happen, giving you cause to reroute your actions and manage to stay in control of the results you want without turning it into an excuse. … Here’s an excellent rule of thumb…every reason MUST have a resulting action.
Well, if there’s something you say you want to do, but continually have a reason why you don’t do it; there are 2 possible explanations:
1) You do not really want to do it, but you either continue to say you do out of habit or because you think you “should” want to do it.
2) You really do want to do it, but it is risky, it forces you to step outside your comfort zone, or might upset someone you care about.
If the answer to your scenario is #1, then you should stop saying that it is something you want to do. Let it go. Bring some closure to it and you can free your mental and emotional energy to pursue something you truly do want to do.
If the answer for you is #2, then most likely you are using an excuse to hang onto it and search for a logical reason why you can’t do it, thus keeping you safe and still wanting.
What do excuses sound like? Here’s a list of the most common ones:
– I’m too dumb/too smart
– No one will like/love me
– I’m not good enough
– It’s too far from home
– I don’t have enough money for that
– No time
– No one can have it all
Does any of these sound familiar?
Most of these have been “given” to us by our parents, teachers, siblings, friends, family and the media and they are opinions, not facts.
But we wouldn’t use excuses if they didn’t benefit us in some way. It’s hard to admit that, but why else would you use them? Just to make life hard on us?
Some of the benefits I found from using excuses are:
– It allows me to be right about myself (example: “See, I told you I wasn’t good enough!”)
– It keeps me safe
– It keeps me stuck (so I can complain & feel sorry for myself)
– It’s familiar
After all, it is easier to maintain the status quo, and take our minds of off the things we really want, especially when they are different from what the majority of people say is normal. And it might seem easier to ignore, but it comes at a price and that can be anything from lack of fulfilment and spark in our lives, to depression or disease.
When you know of some ways to eliminate excuses from your life, please do share your experiences within a community of others who are also embracing this concept. Come join us on Facebook where we all look forward to new insights and connections.
Next week we will give you some ways to bust your excuses for good, so stay tuned.