Excuses, Excuses, Excuses… Be Gone!

A few years ago (11/8/10) before I started focusing on Habits for Wellbeing, I wrote a blog post about excuses. I no longer have that page, however during the past 24-48 hours, I was reminded about the post in my meditation as something has been bugging me and it had to do with excuses (a long list of explanations and defenses we create to protect us from vulnerability or being truly seen).

So, I decided to find the post in my files and re-create (with some changes to make it relevant today and where I am) as I needed the reminder to interrupt my automatic pilot and sit with one of my excuse patterns / distorted thinking. As well as practising mindfulness (which I continue to do), the book I was reading was Dr Wayne Dyer’s Excuses Begone!: How to Change Lifelong, Self-Defeating Thinking Habits. There are 3 parts to the book:

  • Part 1 – Identifying and Removing Habitual Thinking;
  • Part 2 – The Key Excuses Begone! Principles; and
  • Part 3 – The Excuses Begone! Paradigm Shift.

In Part 1, Wayne talks about how we can change old habits. Many of our patterns and habits are stored in our subconscious mind and the conscious mind makes the decisions about what to eat and wear as well as many of the other choices we make in daily life. Interestingly enough though, there is evidence to indicate that the conscious mind occupies around 5% of total workings of the brain and therefore approximately 95% is subconscious.  So what does this mean to me?

In the past, many of the patterns I ran in my life I was not really aware of and they were driving my behaviour – so you could say some of my life was being run on automatic pilot. However, the good news is that I have changed this and one of the first steps to change was awareness – some of which I received in the chapter titled “Your Excuse Catalogue”.

In this chapter, Wayne talks about the top 18 excuses he has seen used throughout his time as a teacher, counsellor and parent. Interestingly enough, some of the excuses that I have shared with my coach and friends in the past were there as well as some excuses I have heard people say to me as a coach, teacher, friend and facilitator. What are the Top 18 excuses that Wayne refers to in his book Excuses Begone!?

  • “It will be difficult”
  • “It’s going to be risky”
  • “It will take a long time”
  • “There will be family drama”
  • “I don’t deserve it”
  • “It’s not in my nature”
  • “I can’t afford it”
  • “No one will help me”
  • “It has never happened before”
  • “I’m not strong enough”
  • “I’m not smart enough”
  • “I’m too old (or not old enough)”
  • “The rules won’t let me”
  • “It’s too big”
  • “I don’t have the energy”
  • “It’s my personal history”
  • “I’m too busy”, and
  • “I’m too scared”.

What were my top excuses (from Wayne’s 18) for not following my dreams 100% of the time?

  • “I don’t deserve it”
  • “I’m not smart enough”
  • “I don’t have the energy”
  • “I’m too scared”, and
  • “I don’t have the time”.

As I read and type those excuses/beliefs now, I see some inaccuracy in one or two of them still (yes, I am not perfect and a work in progress), however I have changed a lot since I first came across them as my excuses were holding me back from living a life in harmony with my natural self. You may also like to reflect on what your top excuses are?

The second part of the book by Wayne Dyer talks about the seven principles underlying Excuses Begone! To discuss these principles (awareness, alignment, now, contemplation, willingness, passion and compassion). I am going to talk about them in relation to how I applied the principles to one of my excuses – “I don’t have the time”.

Overall, I used to see myself as an organized person (some would say obsessively), however I would get excited about the opportunities that come across my path and sometimes I didn’t fit in all of the things that were important to me. With this in mind, a few years ago I looked at the principles and knew I was doing a few of them already.

Taking that in to consideration, the main things I needed to look at were awareness, alignment and being present. As I was aware of my excuse of not having enough time, each day I wrote down and planned exactly what I wanted to get done. I only wrote down and planned the things that were important to me and were helping me in each area of my life (spiritual, health and fitness, relationships, home, work and financial). Each day, I would tick off what I completed in my organizer (now it is my phone or computer) and this helped me a lot as I love seeing progress.

The two principles I found challenging were alignment (seeing my excuses, which I think links to vulnerabilty) and being in the now (presence). However, I had a strategy to overcome both of them. I decided that whenever I found myself playing some of my patterns in my head – like “I can’t do that”, “I’m not good enough” (yes more excuses), I would observe those thoughts and write them down as well as feel the emotions attached to the thoughts (i.e. the STOP technique I support clients with in Mindfulness). Yes, sometimes this was challenging and I had to have a lot of self-compassion.

The final part of the three-part book Excuses Begone! was the Paradigm Shift! The third part of the book provided a way to change old thinking habits. The excuse I focused on when I was reading the book was – “I am not smart enough”. I actually didn’t know I had this excuse until it came in to my awareness when I was reading the book. I used the seven questions that make up the paradigm to overcome this habit/excuse. Following are my responses to the paradigm questions from 29/8/10 when I did this:

  • Is it true? No I don’t believe the excuse is true now.
  • Where did the excuse come from? Once I became aware of this excuse I reflected on my life to try and find out where it came from. After some time reflecting, it came to me and I remember when I was growing up someone said to me that sportspeople are not smart.
  • What’s the payoff? I am not sure. Even though I did not graduate high school (as I chose to play professional tennis instead), I have gone on to receive university degrees in a number of areas. However, in saying that, when I was doing my PhD, I found it was not for me. So the excuse may have kept me safe to some degree.
  • What would my life look like if I couldn’t use these excuses? I would be finishing the last two assignments for the coaching course I am doing.
  • Can I create a rational reason to change? Absolutely and very easily!
  • Can I access universal cooperation in shedding old habits? Yes, as I know that this excuse is not true.
  • How can I continuously reinforce my new way of being? Continue to meditate, do yoga, spend time walking on the beach, have self-compassion and writing in my journal.

Overcoming this excuse helped me continue to move my life in to alignment with my values and life purpose and I continue to do so each day. Some days are easier than others, however to be honest, I wouldn’t change any of them. I continue to be totally committed to living and experiencing life and am so grateful to the people who are helping me along the way (my family, coach, friends, colleagues and other people who are coming across my path). What a gift life is!

Reflection –

  • Which excuses are holding you back?
  • Is the excuse true?
  • Where did the excuse come from?
  • What’s the payoff?
  • What would your life look like if you couldn’t use these excuses?
  • Can you create a rational reason to change?
  • Can you access universal cooperation in shedding old habits?
  • How can you continuously reinforce your new way of being?

 

If you are ready to reclaim your courage and take the next step towards freedom and opening your heartwhy not join our Toolkit?

 

Reference –

Dyer, W. (2009). Excuses Begone!: How to Change Lifelong, Self-Defeating Thinking Habits. Australia: Hay House Australia Pty Ltd.

 

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