After completely healing myself of a 10-year struggle with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, I’ve realized recently that I’m still holding on to a number of excuses that I told myself when I was at my most sick in order to protect myself and my health. Often these excuses were completely valid and justified, but as I started to recover, I noticed that many of them started to get stronger.
Now, having been in the best health of my life for the last four years, one of the biggest daily struggles I face is letting go of the excuses that were embedded in my experience during those dark years.
The phrases you’re about to read have probably entered your vocabulary at some point. The excuses you tell yourself might not sound exactly like these word-for-word, but underneath it all, the energy and feeling behind them is exactly the same. The crux if it all is whether you choose to live your life by them or not, and I’m sad to say that they’ve influenced a lot of my decisions over the years.
In many ways, all the phrases below are linked — once you start diving into one, the others will probably come up for you, too. The very first step, however, is to catch yourself just after you say or think these sentences. Is it your voice or someone else’s? When are you saying it? How do you feel as you’re saying it? Meditating on these simple questions will help you step into the space of this fear, rather than pushing it away again.
1. “I’m not the type of person who would …”
Maybe you are just that person. Where have you developed boundaries and walls for yourself? Is there someone in your life or an event that has pushed and narrowed your boundaries and sense of self?
This phrase also presents you with the opportunity to examine whether or not you're necessarily judging others. Is this phrase coming from the best place, or is your perception of the situation or another person rubbing up against your personal boundaries?
2. “I could never …”
Like phrase number 1, in many ways you limit your possibilities when you say this. Exploring the "what ifs" in life is a magical experience, but don’t cut yourself off at the source. If you’re terrified of heights, then saying, “I could never bungee jump” is completely justifiable, but make sure your head and your heart are on the same page.
3. “It’ll never happen.” (and any variation along the same lines)
A certain degree of realism is sometimes necessary as we go through life, but cutting yourself off before you’ve even tried means you’ll stay frustrated and, in many cases, stuck. Isn’t it better to have a go than never know?
This is one of the phrases that I still struggle with personally. Often, I think myself out of an idea or situation before I’ve ever tried to do anything about it, often within the first few minutes of its landing in my head! As embarrassing as this is, this is one of my patterns, and I’m grateful for every opportunity I have to work on it.
4. “Oh well, never mind …”
If you've tried everything and there’s no way around the situation, there's great strength in accepting the present moment. However, if you’ve let your dream or idea float past you like a cloud without even meditating on the possibility of it, then maybe it’s time your reversed the phrase: “mind- never.”
5. “I don’t have time.”
This is another one that I seem to catch myself saying a lot, particularly when it comes to exercise. It’s a bit of a vicious circle- you want to get healthy or change-up your exercise routine, but this one little phrase can always be used as an excuse. We’re all busy, but we have to ask ourselves where our priorities lie. Are you really as busy as you think you are, or are you using this as an excuse to stay small?
Timetabling activities, even if it’s just once a week, and telling others about your commitment can help you to stay on course and break your habit. Make the decision to keep yourself accountable for your actions.
I’d love to hear your comments below — have you been using any of these phrases as excuses in your life?