How is it possible that some people, no matter how educated, financially stable, healthy, how blessed their upbringing, and/or how few major stressors they have in life, are perpetually stuck in the mud? I am 99% certain that anyone reading this knows someone who despite seeming to have every resource available to them, can never get over the goal line. Why does this happen? I'm not a psychotherapist, but working in the field of training and nutrition where excuses are rampant, I have formulated a strong opinion on the matter.
Excuses, in my opinion are like pain killers, but far more dangerous. Anytime we choose to create reasons why we can't reach a goal that are outside of personal responsibility, we risk an addiction to emotional numbness. Excuses like painkillers allow us the opportunity to pause right below the pain, take a break from feeling, and never directly address the issue. The more the excuses continue, the more we go from situational numbness, to complete emotional paralysis. We are all susceptible to daily seemingly benign rationalizations; (why we didn't eat well, exercise, or do the laundry). As our day-to-day excuses become more habitual however, we set ourselves up to rationalize more major life concerns; (why we can't get/hold a descent job, cultivate loving relationships, or pay our bills). I am entirely convinced that chronic excuses lead to a chronic avoidance of pain and responsibility, which can keep us struggling just short of success for a lifetime.
Think about it. By experiencing discomfort as an infant (a soiled diaper, feeling hungry, too hot/cold), a baby begins to learn key survival skills. Yet if at some point during our lifetime, we decide that pain/discomfort; (anxiety, sadness, boredom, fear, anger, guilt, loneliness) is something to be avoided, rather than used as a platform to learn, we can never EVER move forward. The moment we become chronic excuse addicts, we begin to live in a state of emotional neutral, where taking steps forward is truly impossible.
Can a person who is shoulders deep in the mud ever get out?
Yes. The first step in getting unstuck is to detox from excuses. STOP MAKING EXCUSES, TAKE PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY, and START FEELING. Stop using statements that imply, insinuate, or suggest that nothing can be changed, nothing can be fixed, and others are to blame. Any statements that eliminate responsibility for the situation must cease. Here are some examples of statements made by excuse addicts:
- "I had no choice."
- "I couldn't possibly say no."
- "What was I supposed to do?"
- "If it wasn't for x, y, z, I'd really be ..."
Instead, use personal responsibility statements and ask questions like:
- "This was the choice I made."
- "I am having a tough time with this."
- "How can I handle this situation better?"
- "What obstacles do I need to circumvent in order to achieve this?"
This process is going to FEEL weird. You will often FEEL icky, uncomfortable, and confronted. Withdrawal from pain avoidance is going to hurt.
THIS IS GOOD.
ALLOW THE FEELINGS.
THEN KEEP GOING.