The other day as I was conversing with a client, she kept feeding me with excuse after excuse as to why she couldn’t get her workouts in and why she was eating donuts for breakfast, lunch and dinner. (Ok, maybe it wasn’t that bad) After about 30 minutes of banter, she started to sound like a broken record with her excuses. Things such as not having enough time or not having access to the right foods or just not feeling like it came booming through the telephone wires. Typically, I would encourage her and tell her that tomorrow was a new day and that these excuses were valid. This time was different, and instead of telling her the typical spiel, I went curious. Why is it that some people do what they need to do and others are stuck in excuse land? I started asking her questions instead of giving her answers.
I asked her:
What would your life look like if you didn’t make excuses? She went silent. Her response was “Honestly, I don’t know.”
I feel that making excuses has become an addiction. We as humans have this miraculous ability to find ways as to why we can’t accomplish something. We become so addicted to complaining and making excuses that it has manifested into a process that we are no longer aware of. The interesting part is this process can stem from a deeper place. These excuses may serve as a protection to our ego and identity. If we make excuses as to why we don’t take actions towards our goals we are protecting ourselves from the shame and anxiety we may feel if we fail at whatever it is that we are attempting to do. By making excuses we are trying to save ourselves from feeling bad but not realizing that we are actually doing more harm then good. This conversation was not only helpful for my client but it also opened my eyes as to where I was making excuses in my own life.
Here are a few strategies I have used personally and with my clients that have been helpful with eliminating our addiction to excuses.
Become Aware - The first step is to realize and admit that you are an excuse machine. We all are, it’s reality. When I took responsibility for that fact that I am an addict to excuses, I became more aware which allowed me to change my approach to the things that I was making excuses for.
Challenge the excuse – It is real or are we making that shit up? Many times we tell ourselves that we are too busy to do what we need to do but are we really? How many minutes did we spend on Facebook scrolling through other people’s lives? How many minutes did we waste playing Candy Crush (do people play that anymore?)? How many minutes did we spend watching TV? Best yet, how many minutes did we waste talking to someone about how we are too busy to do the things we know we need to do? We can always find an excuse as to why we can’t do something but when we ask ourselves if the excuse is REAL or just a phrase that we have become accustomed to using we can shift our perspective.
Get curious – We humans tend to focus on the results we are not getting. We are drawn to and obsessed with “what is”. When we are continually focused on “what is”, we lose the power of “what could be”. When you find yourself in a space where you are upset at the lack of results, take a moment to get curious. Envision a picture of what could be instead of what is. We can raise our energy by getting curious about what it is we actually want and what that would feel like when we accomplished that.
Ask yourself empowering questions – There is a saying that says, “The quality of our lives is completely dependent on the quality of questions we ask ourselves.” Instead of focusing on the lack of results or overwhelm of how many times we have fallen, we can start to ask ourselves questions that take our mind in a different direction. We can ask questions like: “How can I make it to the gym today.” Or “How can I make this happen today.” Or “How can I be of more service to others today.”
What is the benefit of eliminating excuses besides the obvious? Opportunity. When we no longer carry these “cover stories” we have the opportunity to experience things that we would have never experienced had we held on to these excuses. We have the opportunity to become who we have always wanted to become. We have the opportunity to see our true potential. We have the opportunity to live life the way it was meant to be lived.