As a psychologist working with individuals and organizations, I am frequently offered numerous reasons justifying our personal psychological struggles. And many of these reasons would appear valid to anyone listening. They tend to take one of the following forms:
- It’s because I had a bad childhood. My parents were horrible.
- It’s because I have a bad marriage or relationship. They treat me terribly.
- It’s because I have too much to do, and no one to help me. It’s overwhelming.
- It’s because my kids are out of control, have ADHD, or have anxiety. This is too much.
- It’s because the world is falling apart, and no one cares.
- It’s because the president, or previous president, stinks. It angers me.
- It’s because my neighbors play their music too loud, don’t mow their lawn regularly, and drink too much.
- It’s because the internet isn’t working today, and my phone is acting up.
- It’s because my genetics are messing with my happiness. I read all about it.
- It’s because my employer doesn’t value me, doesn’t pay me enough, and is rude to me.
- It’s because I didn’t get the right education. My teachers didn’t really care about me.
- It’s because….(fill in anything).
When we examine any individual’s experience, we might find a group of circumstances or events that would range from annoying, to stressful, to painful, to sad, or even tragic. Yet, in doing so, we immediately find ourselves delving into a history lesson over which we have no control. Zero.
Now, that history lesson may be 30 years old, or a week old, but all remain history lessons. In this very, exact moment, none of these events are likely impacting my life directly…other than through my thoughts, my beliefs, and my focus upon them.
What’s the Problem? Almost Everyone Has Some Kind of Excuse!
Yes. That is absolutely true.
However, some have many more excuses for their misery than do others. And, more importantly, there are also many incredibly happy, satiated individuals who rarely, if ever, offer excuses because they need not do so. Why? For one simple reason:
There is no reason to offer an excuse for misery if you have no misery.
So, in many ways, we can invert this idea and consider this: What if we offered no excuses? Never again do we talk about it, discuss it, or even let ourselves think about it! (And of course, the IT could be anything.)
Yes, this notion is a bit radical. But please think about what would happen. Every thought and every discussion that turned to our reasons for misery…we just give it up. We decide we are not going to go there, regardless. In doing so, what then happens?
Absent Any Excuses, We Step Back into Our Power: We Become Responsible.
Every excuse takes us out of our power. We can’t control history or the actions of others. When we engage, contemplate, believe or share with others our excuses, we immediately become the victim. As much as we want to rage against that idea, it is inevitably true. As the victim, we are paralyzed to do anything to control our present moment, if we stay there. The responsibility for our happiness, or lack thereof, is due to some factor outside of our control, and focusing upon that simply weakens us. And many of us repeat this day in and day out throughout our lives.
So, what happens when we abandon all excuses. Take this in: Just a moment ago, we were powerless. No control. No ability to change what has happened.
Now, with no excuses that interest us (ever again), we are immediately back in the drivers’ seat.
We are now able to take responsibility. We can be the force moving our life toward what we desire rather than running from what we abhor or dislike or fear. We claim our power again because we can now begin to choose what we focus upon. And since we have NOW dumped any desire to focus upon the past, or things that used to bring misery, we are left with the incredible opportunity to find what makes us feel better.
Admittedly, most will talk about such concepts. Few are doers. This however can change.
I would suggest, if you find any excuses for being less than excellent today prevalent in your thought processes, consider becoming disinterested in those excuses. And instead, become only interested in the thoughts or actions that satisfy you. Mostly, however, nurture disinterest in any complaint or excuse that robs you of your happiness. This practice has a deep root to the satisfaction that can serve you for years to come.