I have become quite adept at making excuses as to why I can’t do things:
“I can’t go to the gym because I’m too tired.”
“I don’t want to go out after work because it’s too cold or I haven’t got anything nice to wear.”
“I can’t climb that mountain because I’m not fit enough and don’t have the right skills.”
“I can’t go travelling because I have family commitments.”
“I can’t start researching my 40 volcanoes because I’m too busy.”
“I can’t achieve this goal because it’s too expensive.”
“I can’t be successful because I’m not good enough and don’t deserve it.”
From one point of view these might seem like logical reasons but at the end of the day they are all just big, fat, ugly excuses. And excuses, I have learnt, get in the way of doing things, of achieving goals, of making changes to your life. They stop dreams in their tracks, they keep you stuck in a rut, and stuck in a comfort zone. They make you chose the easy option, the safe option, the boring option.
Excuses are evil and bad.
Excuses occur because our subconscious feels uncomfortable about a situation – generally a situation that is new, a change from the status quo or it presents a mental, physical or emotional challenge. To dampen down our fears of this situation our mind conjures up an excuse to make us feel better and to “rationalise” why we shouldn’t or can’t do something. And often we don’t even realise that this is what is going on in our heads.
Self-doubt can provide countless reasons why something can’t or shouldn’t be done. They might seem real-enough justifications at the time – and are perhaps good enough to take away some of the guilt of not doing something – but they are still just excuses.
But they are also poor excuses. It’s on a par with the dog ate my homework. Making the excuse that you’re not being good enough or not deserving enough can’t be justified. It’s the self-doubt talking, not the truth.
And if we are to achieve anything of value in our lives, these excuses need to be banished.
Like with my blog on being more aware of my negative thoughts, awareness is the first step to realising that you’ve made a giant life-sapping excuse. As I’ve listened to the negative self-doubting conversations in my head, I realised that I was using them as excuses for why I couldn’t progress my quest to climb 40 volcanoes by the age of 40.
I clearly have a fear of failure and success, as well as a deeply in-grown habit of believing I’m not good enough. And all of this was being turned into an almighty excuse – but more than that, self-doubt essentially became an excuse in and of itself.
But this is seriously no way to live life, being a slave to negative thoughts and excuses.
Being aware of the excuses and when and why you use them is the trick. What opportunities have I passed up because I allowed an excuse to get in the way? What am I really scared of?
Excuses are just a mental barrier that our minds put up to keep us in the warm, fuzzy confines of safety and security. But barriers can be climbed over, they can be destroyed and overcome. Excuses don’t have to hold us back or be a self-doubt suck-up. Recognise you’ve made an excuse and then squash it, fight it, find a way around it (like saving up money or scheduling time or upskilling), prove to yourself the excuse is nothing but an excuse.
Because we should not be defined by our excuses. We are better than that.