Written by Karl Perera, MA, DipLC
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Do you find yourself giving excuses in your head? Maybe you are scared of doing something new. What is that voice inside your head saying as you consider doing what you haven’t done before?
Excuses seem like valid reasons not to do something, but perhaps you should take a closer look next time you hear that voice of doubt speak up. I am always telling people that if you listen to your negative thoughts without questioning them then they go unchallenged. If your negative thoughts go unchallenged then you are giving them power and without thinking about it you are accepting them as true.
Can you think of one situation you are facing right now that worries you or fills you with doubt?
Think about this because chances are that this situation and these doubts are connected with your self esteem. Many people ask this question: is my low self esteem causing my doubts and making me use excuses or is it the other way round? The truth is it is a vicious circle and works both ways. Your worries and fears cause you to doubt yourself and your low self esteem makes this worse.
With confidence and high self esteem you would not fear or doubt yourself. The truth is any problems you have with your self esteem will be worst when you have a challenging or fearful situation ahead of you. The excuse you make can help you avoid the situation you fear but it will only increase your low confidence and esteem because you know the truth – these excuses serve one purpose.
Now think about the situation that is worrying you and filling you with fear or anxiety. What excuses are you telling yourself? List them and then look at them one by one. Imagine you are looking at yourself from outside, as if you are someone else. Is the excuse a good one or is it wrong?
So, what is behind your excuses?
One more thing, I want to ask you if the excuses you are making are connected with your mood? If you were in a better mood would you see things more positively and make better decisions?
When you have questioned your excuses, you may find that they are not true. Why then are you using these excuses?
What is the true purpose of your excuses?
Excuses don’t build empires, as the saying goes. How do they benefit you?
You already probably know that excuses are just reasons you make up to make yourself feel better about not taking a chance and doing something risky. Your fear is behind these excuses. If you are honest, answer me this: are you happy to continue making excuses and creating all sorts of reasons why you can’t take action or face a challenge that scares you?
“Life is either a daring adventure or nothing at all.”
― Helen Keller, The Open Door
The truth is that excuses justify taking no action when you are faced with a choice to act positively. This means you play it safe and take no chances. At first that might make you feel better and ease your anxiety but you’ll soon realize that you’re stuck. If you allow excuses to limit you and hold you back then it won’t be long before you’ll start to feel bad. If you constantly avoid taking action then low self esteem grows.
How to recognize if your excuses are holding you back
Most excuses can fit into the following categories:
- Focusing on your lack of ability – “I am not good enough at…”, “I can’t…”
- What happened in the past and the belief that it will happen again – “I always fail at…”, “I tried that before and look what happened!”, “last time I did that,…”
- Putting yourself down – “I don’t deserve that…”, “I have been lucky…”, “I haven’t worked hard enough”. “I am not as good as others at…”
- Accepting other people’s judgments and what you think they want you to do – “I should…”, “I shouldn’t…”, “I have to…”, “I need to”
- Assuming you’ll fail – “There’s no chance”, “I’ll never be able to…”, “That’s not going to happen”
- Many negative excuses come from too much introspection, or inner thinking.
OK, so your inner voice keeps offering you lots of excuses and reasons why you shouldn’t do whatever it is you need to face the challenges before you, now what?
Well, if you are going to reverse this and if you want to find the courage to face your challenges despite excuses and negative thinking then you need to find answers to the above. The responses you want should be positive, not negative as they are now. Let me explain what I mean…
“I am not good enough at…”, is that really true? Could it be that you need to accept yourself and how good you really are? Have you tried before or just given up? Maybe you could learn to be good if you practised or tried again. Maybe you are just believing what others told you.
“I can’t” – do you mean “I won’t”?
“I always fail” – again question that and you’ll probably find that is not true and is very harsh. What is failure anyway? Even if you weren’t totally successful, was it a complete failure? Think again and view it differently.
In the same way, you need to go through your most common excuses and question why you are putting yourself down, is there any self hate within you? Why do you believe you don’t deserve to be successful or happy. Why do you accept other’s standards rather than yours?
Finally, open your mind to the possibility that you may succeed. If you expect to fail, then you will for sure.
How to Turn this Round and Face Challenges
Your mind is good at thinking up reasons why you shouldn’t but what about doing the opposite?
For a change, start with something you need to face or overcome in your life and what steps you could take. Instead of focusing on excuses try to make a list of reasons why you should take action. You’ll be surprised once you get started at the reasons you find.
Now, let’s be honest…You can read this page and think to yourself that is helpful advice and I will do that.
Stop! Don’t say “I will”, start RIGHT NOW!
Work on this right now, go back if you need to and put this into action now and get started working on changing how you think and how you face the challenges that matter to you. Don’t leave it.
Website Author and Your Guide
Karl Perera is a fully qualified Life Coach (DipLC), Teacher (MA), and author of the book Self Esteem Secrets. He has taught at various universities including Durham, Leicester and Anglia Ruskin, Cambridge. He has run More-SelfEsteem.com since 1997 since suffering from low self esteem for more than 25 years overcoming it in his thirties.