In my role as a counselor, teacher, and parent, I’ve heard many reasons that people use to explain an unhappy existence . . . and almost all of them inevitably fall into one huge category, which I call “excuses.”
The rest of the chapter will introduce you to 18 of the most commonly used ones, along with a brief commentary about each of them. This will give you a primer before you go on to learn the Excuses Begone! method that’s detailed in the rest of the book.
Here they are, in no particular order:
1. It Will Be Difficult
While this may seem like a supportable reason, it’s clearly an excuse designed to discourage you. If you’re honest with yourself about the difficulty you’re experiencing with addiction, obesity, depression, shyness, low self-esteem, loneliness, or any other life aspect, you’ll recognize the useless suffering you’re hanging on to.
If it’s going to be difficult anyway, why not opt for some useful suffering?
Still, the fact is that you have absolutely no incontrovertible evidence that what you’d like to change is actually going to be challenging. It’s just as likely to be easy for you to change your thinking as it is to be hard.
Decades ago when I decided to give up smoking, for example, I used Excuses Begone! beliefs. It was encouraging for me to realize how much more difficult it was to smoke than not to smoke. The smoker part of me always had to have a pack of cigarettes and an ashtray within easy reach, carry matches or lighters, dispose of ashes, deal with smelly fingers and stained teeth, earn money to pay for this disgusting habit, be careful exhaling noxious fumes, cough up nicotine residue from my lungs, buy lighter fluid and flints, and on and on.
The truth was that continuing to smoke was the real difficulty, and changing my habit involved one simple thing: not smoking.
This is true for virtually all of your habits. The belief that they’re going to be hard to change is only a belief! Making something difficult in your mind before you even undertake the effort is an excuse.
Nothing in the world is difficult for those who set their mind to it, as an ancient Taoist master concluded.
2. It’s Going to Be Risky
Again, this may seem like a good reason, but if you convince yourself that something involves more risk than you’re capable of assuming or have the strength for, this is a poor excuse for not taking action. What is unquestionable here is your ability to choose your belief about the drawbacks of this endeavor.
Over the years, countless people have thanked me for taking so many risks in speaking out about what I believe so fervently. I’m always taken aback by such expressions of gratitude – I’ve never assumed that I was being courageous by speaking my mind.
Even if my opinions and statements were certain to be perceived as offensive by large numbers of people, the idea that being myself and also being willing to express my own truth involved taking a chance never occurred to me.
I don’t believe you can ever be 100 percent certain that something will be risk free. Holding back in silence out of fear of retribution or criticism could actually be the more hazardous behavior.
Speaking from the heart doesn’t always mean critical fallout; after all, about 99 percent of the time, the feedback I receive is positive and heartwarming.
The fear involved in anticipating a risk simply serves to keep you from taking action. When you convince yourself that it’s your job to avoid taking chances, you can continue your familiar habits. If you’re accustomed to playing it safe by attempting to please everyone you encounter, then you’re a victim of your own excuse making.
The point is that if you fear the opinions of others – or if you fear failure or success – then anything that you think or do will involve some risk. But if you’re willing to live from your convictions and fulfill your destiny, then what others perceive as taking chances are simply the ways you choose to elevate your life.
Even if you do believe that changing the way you think will involve risks, so what? The peace that you feel because you ignored the worry of a risk is far greater than staying stuck in a belief that is really only an excuse.
As writer Logan Pearsall Smith once noted: “What is more mortifying than to feel that you have missed the plum for want of courage to shake the tree?”
3. It Will Take a Long Time
Is this a valid reason, or an excuse not to proceed? If you wish to elevate your life, it really doesn’t matter how long it takes, does it? And this is particularly true when you’re conscious that you live your life, every single bit of it, in the present moment and only in the present moment. All you ever get is now. Every thought occurs in the present moment, and every change has a defining moment.
Often it takes something or someone outside of you to help you realize that.
An entertaining psychiatrist named Dr. Murray Banks does just that with the following little exchange between himself and a woman who has decided not to return to school because she’d be too old when she finished.
“How old would you be in five years if you got that degree by starting now?” he asks her. “Forty-nine,” she replies. “And how old will you be in five years if you don’t go back to school?” “Forty-nine,” she answers, seemingly confused . . . but with the look of one who’s become conscious of the excuses she created for not elevating her life.
However long it took you to create any self-defeating habit, you did it all one day, one moment at a time. There’s absolutely no proof that anything will take a long time, since even the idea of “a long time” is an illusion – there is only now. Make this awareness a part of your consciousness.
The Tao Te Ching reinforces this in perhaps the most famous line in that masterful work: “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” Elevate or move on in your life, not by thinking big and in long time periods, but with consciousness focused on the present moment.
Stay tuned for part 2 – There Will Be Family Drama…
Available now from Hayhouse: Wayne Dyer – Excuses Begone
It will look like this: Excuses Begone – A Catalog of Some Common Excuses