As human beings, it’s natural for us to come up with excuses for things.
When I had my depression episode at 13 years old, it took me a long time to be comfortable with myself. Nine years to be exact.
I had to overcome all the negative self-talk and also to be able to communicate properly.
It wasn’t until I moved to Halifax where I started to make shifts in my life.
But what’s important here is why did it take me this long to change? When you want to make a change to yourself it can indeed take a lot of time.
However in my case there was something that held me back a lot.
And I know, that I’m not alone in this.
We Come Up With Excuses All The Time
You don’t feel like doing it.
It’s too tough.
You have other commitments.
You’re lacking time.
People can come up with just about any reason to not do something.
Even when they know that developing this habit or changing is going to be good for them.
We will still be stubborn or take action for a few days only to relapse.
There are plenty of ways to take action and develop your mindset to take action. But for now I want to be touching on why we make excuses in the first place.
After all, to understand a problem fully is to know what exactly caused it.
Why Do We Make Excuses?
In short, our brain like to shield us from certain things. Think of it as a way of preservation.
This can be good, but it can also be bad.
It can be good as it provides us protection. Naturally we feel safer when we are protected or comfortable.
It’s bad in the sense that we can resist a change. Change is stepping outside of our comfort zone and establishing something new.
That change can be good for us. But, excuses can get in the way. They are another barrier to our growth. As Dr. Claudia Aguirre writes:
It(Excuses) serves as a distraction of sorts that prevents us from achieving the task, but it stems from a deeper, unconscious desire to protect ourselves (our Ego, if you asked Freud) against anxiety and shame.
So instead of shielding us from guilt, our brain is coming up with elaborate excuses that shield us from shame and even anxiety.
More negative emotions.
The issue is that not every change is going to bring shame and anxiety. Quitting smoking isn’t anything shameful. Yes your friends and co-workers might miss you. However it’s not a shameful act.
It all goes back to how you see failure. Is failure a failure? Or is a lesson you can grow from?
Furthermore you also need to consider what is being proposed.
My Point Is: Some Excuses Are Bullshit
Some people enter into a state where they will come up with any kind of excuse. Again our brain is very crafty and good at doing that.
Our brain will preserve us, shield us, and keep us in our comfort zone no matter what, when we let it.
Our brain, in essence, is an excuse making machine. It can create anything from you’re too tired so you’ll skip working out to making you think about cigarettes so you’ll get back into smoking.
These reasons can be excuses depending on the context. Take working out. If you exercised a little bit at a time each day, you can’t say you’re tired. That’s silly.
But if you had a one hour high-intensity work out session, that makes sense to be tired and sore the next day.
So How Do We Break This Cycle?
How can we start avoiding excuses and start taking action?
I’m not saying we have to say “Yes” to every opportunity that comes our way.
However, I believe it is important for us to lean more on saying yes to clearly good things.
Changes that we assess and we know have the potential to be good for us. Some times all we need to do is write that out and explain to ourselves that.
We are able to do this in a few ways. Again going back to why we make excuses is that we are protecting ourselves from anxiety and shame.
To Remove Shame
It’s not a matter of “being fearless”, but learning to embrace failure. That learning and failing is part of the process.
I remember I struggled a lot to break out of my shell and start talking to people. I came up with all kinds of excuses, but in the end, I pulled through.
It was only until I somehow persuaded myself that I had to make a massive change did I overcome that feeling of shame.
There is no shame in talking properly.
When you fail, you learn something about yourself. And I learned a lot about myself during those nine years. I still learn about myself today.
And To Remove Anxiety
It’s a matter of doing research.
I believe anxiety stems from a lot of uncertainty within people. Again we are so quick to resist change because some of us believe we are destined to fail before we even start.
That’s why it’s important to do research, to ask questions but above all be willing to have an open mind around it.
After all, we can expect people to have a variety of different thoughts and opinions about a particular subject.
In the end, anxiety can be stifled once we know what we can get out of it. When you explain to yourself the benefits of the change you are going through, it gets easier.
By explaining to your brain that if you quit smoking you’ll have a lower risk of lung cancer, be able to breath properly, and in general feel a lot better, your brain will calm down. It’ll allow you to try and make this change.
So do the research and figure out the benefits and the sacrifices. Weigh the information you get and draw a conclusion.
Excuses Can Vanish
Excuses are but barriers and once we learn how to handle them, we can better understand ourselves. Furthermore we know how to break through them time after time.
To your growth!
Eric S Burdon