Man, we have a lot of crap to deal with in our lifetime, no one is immune to it. From the time we are born and get slapped on our bootie in order to breathe (at least that is how I came into the world) it seems we are constantly striving to get ahead and we are bombarded with crap to contend with.
For instance, I cringed the minute I am asked to do something I don’t want to do. I’m never more creative than when I want to come up with an excuse as to why I can’t attend my friend’s Great Aunt’s piano recital.
I mean sure, it would be better if I could just flat out say “HELL NO” I WON’T GO! But, I don’t have the guts for that. I am afraid of not being liked or being told I don’t care about our friendship etc.
So what did I do? I made an excuse and I blamed it on someone else. I blamed it on my scapegoat, my husband, and said that I have to go to a “Work Thing” of his and I am so sorry I can’t make it but thank you for the invite.
Then, when I could just stop there and walk away I don’t and instead I decide to really solidify the excuse in case it wasn’t believable by saying “Please let me know when there is another one”. Oui Vey, why would I say that, I don’t ever want to know when there is another one!
We make excuses because our free time is so important to us. For me, I have so little true free time and I don’t get to enjoy any of it until after the work is done and chores are done and loved ones are tended to. Time to myself is such a rarity that the last thing I want is to be spending it on something that has no meaning to me.
Spending time doing something meaningful to us translates into having a meaningful life. And, a meaningful life is a fulfilling life and we all deserve to live a fulfilling life. How can we live that fulfilling, meaningful life if we are constantly spending our time in ways we don’t want.
Trading Time For Money
We are constantly trading our time for money either in the jobs we do or cowardly agreeing to do something we don’t want to do for fear of consequences we aren’t ready to face.
I thought the only way to get out of something I truly didn’t want to do is to make up an excuse because that’s better than spending my precious limited free time being miserable.
This seems like a harmless habit to have. We don’t hurt anyones feelings and we get to do what we want, even if it is under false pretenses right?
Let’s take a look at another reason we make excuses. This reason may be a little more complicated to understand. These are the excuses we make up for not doing something we really want to do.
It’s true! I really wanted to lose weight and get control of my health but I would make any excuse for why I didn’t. I kept telling myself it was to hard to lose weight or I have been pregnant and that weight would never come off. Or the weather wasn’t conducive for walking or my knees hurt. And yet, a birthday party comes along and who is first in line for the cake. Sounds crazy to make an excuse for why we don’t do what we want to do.
If we want lose weight or we want to be kinder to our kids or our spouse. If we want more fun and adventure in our life or want a better job with less stress and more freedom. If we want to learn something new or take a painting class or learn how to budget our finances better. If all these things sound really great and they are going to make our lives better and more fulfilling which is exactly what we want then why do we make excuses.
We start imaging what our life looks like once we implement these changes, we get pump up, we are excited, we might even start laying out a plan to achieve these things. We give ourselves the weekend to get adjusted to the new choice and the new changes and even allow ourselves that one last weekend to be a rebel.
Dropping the Ball on Ourselves
Then we say O.K., I’m going to start my new exercise routine, I am not going overboard and I am going to start slow. Monday after work I am going for a walk for at least 20 minutes and for dinner I will choose the healthy hearty salad and make a point to go to bed early and turn off my phone 30 minutes before bed time. This plan seems manageable, nothing to radical to put in place.
Then, Monday comes, everything fine in the morning. Auto-pilot kicks in and the daily routine is going along smoothly. Then, it starts getting later in the day and the focus is on hunger. We are stressed and the stress of the day has got us thinking about how good it’s going to be to get home, kick of the shoes and get started on that delicious carb filled Mac ‘N” Cheese comfort food to satisfy this unruly hunger. Well, comfort food wouldn’t be complete without it’s companion, T.V. So, we start to do a little binge watching of our favorite shows.
Why not? You deserve it. You have worked hard all day. You have taken care of the to- do list and others are happy and off your back. You have sucked it up all day doing things you’d rather not be doing because it is part of the job description, and perhaps, you have even gone overboard and have done things not in the job description just because you want to be a team player so darn it, you deserve this.
What about the plan, the new exercise and eat right plan? That last thing you want to do is exercise. It feels like torture to even think about it. “I’ll start tomorrow, tomorrow will be better, Monday’s over and I kinda know what’s ahead of me for the week now, I’ll start tomorrow”. You say to yourself.
You know the drill, I don’t have to tell you that tomorrow comes and the left over Mac “N” Cheese needs to be eaten otherwise it will go to waste and before you know it the plan gets moved to Wednesday.
MMM, so much for the new plan. It is so quickly forgotten about. Routine and autopilot are in full swing and it is gonna take a miracle to turn it around now!
O.K. so you get the vicious self-destructive pattern that is being woven in to the fabric of our lives don’t you. One excuse after the other.
Making excuses and not being truthful was the topic of discussion in my therapy sessions for quite sometime. My therapist would ask, so how is everything going ? I would start telling her the things I did and did not want in my life and why they were or were not there. She quickly started to notice a pattern and when she pointed it out for the millionth time it finally hit me.
Self -Reflection is Key to Change
She said “Perhaps we should start with the excuses”. We began to get into all of excuses. The excuses we think are acceptable to make up because they get us out of doing something we don’t want to do so we can have our free time and we also talked about the excuses that are generously being handed out by the self sabotaging part of us to keep us from our best selves.
She helped me to begin to understand that the act of making an excuse itself may be the culprit. Think about it. A made up excuse is a lie. We can frame it any way we want to soften the blow but it is still a lie. It is not possible to feel good about ourselves if we are constantly lying no matter what the reason.
When we lie our self-esteem takes a hit and then we begin to feel unworthy . When that starts, then the whole downward spiral of unworthiness, low self-esteem and guilt become the major players in our life. They are much bigger players than the part of us that tells us we are great, deserving, lovable and all the other things we should be telling ourselves but don’t.
Here’s the thing though, here is what the professional said and frankly I believe it to be true. Here are some very good reason why we make up excuses for not having the life we truly want:
Fear of Responsibility
I did not want to take responsibility for the way my life was. I knew I wanted to change it but taking responsibility and owning it meant I couldn’t use it as a crutch. I could blame my life for the mood I was in instead of blame myself for the life I was leading.
Fear of Commitment
I was afraid to commit to change because then I would have to change and changing habits are hard and life is hard enough. I don’t want to put the work in to it because it’s hard. So feeling miserable isn’t?
Fear of Failing
What if I tell myself I am committed and going to do this and I don’t stick with it and I fail. That would destroy my ego. Everyone, would be there to say “I told you so”. So, why even try?
Fear of not Being Accepted
What if I start being honest with my friends and they become upset with me and they decide not to be in my life anymore. I don’t want to lose my friends. Maybe I need to look at who my friends are.
Fear of Success
What if I really do get what I want and it wasn’t what I thought it would be or worse yet what if it is great and then it gets taken away from me or I lose it because I couldn’t maintain my goals because it was to hard.
It’s time To Choose
These five reasons are all pretty common when talking about excuse making according to my therapist. OK , great now I know all the reasons my life seemed to be one big excuse. So what was I going to do with this new found information?
The back and forth contemplation began. Maybe I would make an excuse as to why none of these reasons pertain to me and tell myself she was making a bigger deal out of my excuses than it was. I could do that, right?
Wait, what?! Do I really want to keep up the excuses, I had spent a lot of time and money on therapy so I must really want to change.
Finally, I decied, NO! I don’t want to make excuses anymore because I don’t want to live like this for the rest of my life. I have plans, I have ideas, I have dreams that need to be fulfilled.
I have to decide what I want more, what am I willing to live with and what am I willing to live without.
Have you notice that all of the above reasons have to do with some kind of fear. When we get down to the bare bones of it all our lives are ruled by fear.
I had to get right with that. I had to understand my fear. Before I could tackle the excuses I was making I had to understand the reasons behind them and the reason I was afraid.
Turns out living your life excuseless and on your terms takes courage and faith in yourself. You are responsible for each step on your path.
Nobody wants to start on a journey where they are unsure of the destination. We don’t want to think about the work that is involved. We do not want to dedicate or commit to something that has no guarantees in the the end. All of that is scary and many don’t want to even start.
Setting Ourselves Free
As I learned in therapy, when you really think about it Life has no guarantees we are not guarenteed our tomorrows. We are not even guaranteed our next breath. I understood I was afraid of having no control and having no guarantees in life.
So my first step was to get a back bone and be honest in my life when it came to who I was and how I wanted to live it.
I started being aware of just how many excuses I was giving on a daily basis and by making an honest effort to stop in mid-sentence if I had to, I began to acknowledge the lie I was about to tell and I backed up. I said to myself “This moment can change everything for me, if I can be honest about my feelings in this moment my life is going to turn around in other areas”.
Treating it seriously is the only way to make the change. Half-heartedness won’t do the trick. We must commit to giving ourselves and others the respect of being truthful. It all starts there.
When we stop lying to ourselves and others about who we are and what we want we then get stronger within ourselves and we aren’t swayed to take the easy way out.
I had to learn that life is a journey and the lessons we learn along the way or valuable and each small choice we make shapes our future and since we are on this journey already we might as well learn to be good at it. Hell, learn to be great at it.
I have been done making excuses and have been done playing it small and safe for a long time now. Once I got clear and understood a life of excuses is not fully lived I gained the courage to be truthful. I believe the most fulfiling step a person can take for themselves is the step towards being completely honest with yourself and others.
Fear, is a powerful thing isn’t it. But… I do believe the most powerful energy is Love and that is what I have choosen. Love for myself, Love for the life I have. It is more like an ultimatum because if I choose to do nothing then nothing will change.
I have really worked on myself and pinned down the reasons why I wasn’t pursuing my dreams and my aspirations. The parts of me that were fearful of failing and the feeling of not being accepted seems to have been the worst of them.
When I look back at all the times I didn’t choose me, I become grateful for where I am now and feel really blessed to be on the road I am on. Everyday I am consciously aware that I have a choice and I don’t take that for granted.
For me, learning to be truthful with myself in every aspect of life has opened up a new found freedom. My life is about being my best self and inspiring others to be the best they can be.
We don’t have to settle for what others think we need to be doing with our life or fall into the trap of being the person others expect us to be.
This is your life, you have your goals, your aspirations. Making excuses is not what life is about. Being fearlessly truthful about who you are and what you want is the way to happiness.
I hope this post has given you some insights and ecouragement and wish you much joy in your quest to a excuse free life.