THE BLOG
01/08/2015 11:40 am ET Updated Mar 10, 2015

The Insidiousness of Excuses

The moment this awareness hit me was days after learning of a friend's death. I avoided doing something that would have been beneficial and healthy for me because "I didn't feel up to it." I am not sure why the reality of having just used my friend's death as an excuse woke me up to how deep I was in the hole of using excuses, but it did. I was wide awake.

As if my life was flashing before my eyes, I saw how using excuses had kept me playing small since I was 4 years old. Worse, I saw how I had taken those excuses as a fact, without questioning or even considering examining the truth to the excuse. In my mind, it was real.

The excuses come in all shapes and sizes. As innocent as, "I don't have time" and "I'm too tired" to more moderate versions such as "I don't know how," "what if..." and the should's/shouldn't(s). Sometimes the excuses aren't even ours. They belong to others and we simply adopt them.

We use other people as an excuse for not showing up fully in all our magnificence. We play small to validate their playing small. Showing up for other people keeps you from showing up for yourself. Parents do this with children when they put their child in a lot of extracurricular activities with the mindset that they want their children to have more opportunities than they had, while keeping the child too busy to enjoy their childhood and keeping themselves too busy to pursue their own opportunities.

I asked some friends to share the excuses that hold them back or keep them playing small:
  • "There are so many people out there doing what I do, why would people choose me?"
  • Laziness
  • Not enough money
  • "I can't do the things I want the way I want, so why bother?"
  • "That idea will never work and then everyone will know how ridiculous I am."
  • Fear of letting people down or thinking I'm selfish.
  • Not confident enough
  • Uncertainty
  • Doubting myself.
  • Staying safe when I know I can do better.
  • Being scared of success! Fear of my power shining thru. Who will I become? I'm so comfortable being who I am now.
  • Others depending on me yet again.
  • Feeling I have to please/help/not let them down and ending up doing what I don't want/like... again
  • Trying to play the "good Samaritan" when it isn't in my best interest, rather habit.

The list is limitless, truth be told. So how do you start to drop them? Detox from the excuses.

  1. Become aware of them. If you're not even conscious of making excuses, you'll keep making and believing as facts.
  2. Question them. Ask yourself, "Is that true?" You will likely be able to rationalize the truth, so turn it around. For example, it is the end of the day and you didn't get a workout in and you think, "I didn't have time." Is that true? You can reflect back on all the things that filled your time and say "yes." If you turned it around and ask if any of those time-sucks were unnecessary, you'd probably find out they were. Then if you asked, "What if I had chosen to work out then, would I have?" You start to dig into the real reasons for why you're making excuses and self-sabotaging.
  3. Ask yourself, "What if I had no excuses? Then what?" and see what you discover. You may have been playing the "should" game when you never wanted to do whatever it was in the first place. You may not want to workout because it's hard, time consuming, makes you feel shameful going to a gym, you don't know where to start, and really the reason you feel you "should" exercise has more to do with the attention and affection of someone else than your own desire for health. So what if you said, "screw it" and simply let all the reasons and the need to do the activity go? Give yourself permission and freedom from it.
  4. After a little separation period (like 10-30 minutes), ask yourself how you would feel if you did the activity for you and you alone? How would you feel if you worked out? How would you feel if you took time for yourself, followed your passion, took action on a dream? If it would feel good, then do it. If there is no desire, drop it for good.

When you first attempt this process, you'll experience a great deal of inner resistance. The more you continue to show up for yourself, practice courageous honesty, and move forward authentically, the easier it is to live sans excuses.

I want to hear from you! What's your No. 1 excuse for not living fully and how does it feel to go through this process? What do you discover. Leave a comment below.

Drop the excuses and live your fullest starting now. Join the complimentary 7 day lifestyle detox. Because life is just too short to live for someone else or to play small. You deserve to experience the richness. Get it here:.wholebeinginc.com/detox

Wendy Reese, MA, is an author, speaker, and lifestyle strategist passionately committed to helping visionaries, change agents, and healers be whole. With over two decades in the health and fitness field and 13 years teaching yoga, she brings a holistic approach to her work. She intuitively bridges woo-woo and practical guidance in a no-nonsense, yet fun manner.