I’m Too Busy
Prior to writing this excuse catalog, I invited visitors to my website to e-mail me their excuses for not living at the highest levels. In essence, I was interested in the excuses they have used in their lives. “I’m too busy” easily topped the list.
If you’re overextended, know that you’ve chosen to be in this position. All of the activities of your life, including those that take up huge portions of your time, are simply the result of the choices you make. If your family responsibilities are problematic, you’ve opted to prioritize your life in this way. If your calendar is crammed, you’ve decided to live with a full schedule. If there are way too many small details that only you can handle, then this, again, is a choice you’ve made.
Surely, one of the major purposes of life is to be happy. If you’re using the excuse that you’re too busy to be happy, you’ve made a choice to be busy, and in the process, you’ve copped out on living your life on purpose. If you’ve substituted being busy for actively and happily fulfilling your destiny, you need to reexamine your priorities. Here is my mentor, Thoreau, on unexamined priorities:
“Most men [or women] are engaged in business the greater part of their lives, because the soul abhors a vacuum, and they have not discovered any continuous employment for man’s nobler faculties.”
Don’t let your soul languish unfulfilled in a vacuum. Instead, begin to examine just how you prioritize your life. All the details that occupy it keep you from a destiny that you’re aware wants your attention. Contemplate these encouraging ideas to counter the “I’m too busy” excuse:
I know that I’m not a bad parent if I don’t arrange my life to be available to chauffeur the children every day until they’re adults.
- I’m allowed to say no to requests that keep me from having time to pursue my life purpose.
- There’s no such thing as “a place for everything and everything in its place.”
- There’s no right way to do anything.
- I can have it my way because there are no absolute universal rules.
It isn’t my purpose to delineate all of the ways in which you can unload this excuse category. Practicing delegating, getting others to help out, and taking time for yourself are all possibilities as well. Thoreau is right in that there are nobler faculties you need to pay attention to, in addition to all of those other details that occupy your life. If you fear the part of your soul that’s calling you to a higher place, then you’ll probably continue to haul out this particular excuse.
Change this pattern by never saying or implying that you’re too busy. Just drop it, and replace it with the following affirmation:
I intend to take time for myself to live the life that I came here to live, and to do it without ignoring my responsibilities as a parent, spouse, or employee. I learned this valuable technique from the great Vietnamese spiritual bodhisattva Thich Nhat Hanh in his book Peace Is Every Step. Recite these two lines anytime you can steal a few minutes from your daily schedule: “Breathing in, I calm my body.
Breathing out, I smile.” As Hanh writes: “‘Breathing in, I calm my body.’ Reciting this line is like drinking a glass of cool lemonade on a hot day – you can feel the coolness permeate your body. . . . ‘Breathing out, I smile.’. . . Wearing a smile on your face is a sign that you are master of yourself.” This simple exercise helps you prioritize your life with a sense of peace. Then you can look at precisely what it is you need to do in order to discard the busyness excuse.
There’s a wonderful cartoon posted on the bulletin board of the yoga studio I frequent that summarizes the importance of saying “Begone!” to this popular excuse. Underneath the depiction of a doctor talking to an overweight patient, the caption reads:
“What fits your busy schedule better, exercising 1 hour a day or being dead 24 hours a day?” That sums up my approach to this particular excuse. Practice elevating your thoughts every day, no matter how busy and important you are. Rather than insisting that you’re too busy to exercise, for instance, think, I exercise because I’m way too busy to take time for being sick.
I’m Too Scared
Again, turning to my e-mail correspondents, here’s what else they’ve told me: “I’ve always been afraid of being alone,” “I’m scared of failing and I’ve been this way since I was a child,” “It’s a scary world and someone could hurt me,” “I’m afraid something bad will happen to me or my family,” “I’m afraid that someone will yell at me, and I can’t handle criticism,” and “I’m scared about being poor or losing my job and not being able to get another one.” Clearly, fear is a biggie in the excuse catalog.
A way out of the “I’m too scared” thought pattern is offered in A Course in Miracles. I have a special love for this weighty tome that tells us there are only two emotions we can experience: love and fear. Anything that is love cannot be fear, and anything that is fear cannot be love. If we can find our way to stay in a space of love, particularly for ourselves, then fear is an impossibility.
I believe that fear is a mind virus that insists you’re either a success or a failure, and it’s passed from one mind to another until it becomes a habit. From an early age, you’re taught to feel: If I don’t succeed at everything I attempt, then I’m a failure as a person – and I’m scared to death of having to live with such an awful label.
This virus is passed on to you from other minds who bought into the same logic . . . and it keeps on replicating, infiltrating, and spreading, until it becomes a habitual way of responding. You think fearful thoughts, and then you use those same thoughts to explain the deficiencies of your life. You act as if they’re really true, when, in fact, they’re nothing more than excuses.
Franklin D. Roosevelt’s famous refrain from his first inaugural address, “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself,” was crafted from Thoreau’s observation that “nothing is so much to be feared as fear.” These Tao men had it right – there really is nothing to be afraid of. When you begin applying the Excuses Begone! paradigm you’ll find in Part III of this book, neither “I’m too scared” nor any of the other excuses in this chapter will hold up.
Here’s a personal example: In the practice of Bikram yoga, which is a regular part of my life, there are two postures that require the practitioner to bend all the way over backward and hold the posture for a period of 30 seconds or so. When I first started this practice, I’d feel fear welling up in me as I attempted to grab my heels from a kneeling position.
I remember saying to my instructor, “I just can’t bend over backward; I feel as if I’m out of control. In fact, I’ve never even been able to do a backward dive into a swimming pool in my entire life.” I had a great meme going here, which told me, Going backward is scary – you’ll lose control, you won’t be able to see where you’re going, you could fall, you could really hurt yourself, and so forth. Each of these explanations was an excuse that kept me from mastering these new poses.
My fear was rooted in my absence of trust in myself based on a lifetime of mind viruses. When I shifted my mind from fear to love, however, a remarkable thing happened that freed me from the chains of that habituated thinking: I saw myself cradled in the arms of a loving presence. I then said something to myself that I’d never uttered before: “Wayne, you can do these two exercises; you are a Divine piece of the all-knowing intelligence. First, love yourself and trust in this wisdom, and then let go and let God.”
By moving to love, fear was impossible, and 60-plus years of excuse making went out the window.
Today, I enjoy demonstrating both the Camel and Fixed Firm postures for new students. Out of all 26 postures, these 2 give me the greatest sense of joy and accomplishment. As the saying goes: “Fear knocked on the door. Love answered, and no one was there.”
Available now from Hayhouse: Wayne Dyer – Excuses Begone
It will look like this: A Catalog of Some Common Excuses – Final