Everyday Excuses: The Tricks We Play on Ourselves
I'm too old. Too weak. Too tired. Too busy. Too embarrassed. If any of these sound familiar, you're probably holding yourself back from living the healthy life you want. Read on to find out the cures to these common Everyday Excuses. Sunday: You decide that this week is the week to start your new fitness routine. You pack your bag ready for the next day, swear to yourself that THIS IS IT, make yourself a packed salad for lunch, and go to bed dreaming of your new body and renewed confidence.
Monday: Evening comes. Time to go to the gym. But it's been a long day, you feel tired. Best leave it until the next day, right?
Tuesday: You finish work later than you expected. You take a look at your watch: you ONLY have 45 mins for a workout! Hardly worth it right? Why not go tomorrow when you have more time?
Wednesday: When it's time to go and exercise, you suddenly remember that you had to skip lunch because you were stuck in a meeting. And you suddenly feel too weak to run. Surely it would be dangerous? Best go home and watch TV instead.
Thursday: Everyone at the office is going out for Joe's birthday. You decide to start next week instead.
Friday: You don't even bother to bring your gym bag to work.
We are all wonderful story-tellers when it comes to our own health. We promise and we pinky-swear on a daily basis that we have learnt our lessons and are ready for our beach body. And yet when push comes to shove, the same reasons stop us from taking action.
Tired of being beaten by your Everyday Excuses?
Here's how to ditch them.
Where do they come from?
Everyday Excuses come from the part of us that dislikes change and anything unfamiliar: the Ego.
Now, I'm sure you've heard a lot about the Ego already, but let's quickly clarify what this little beast is about:
Wikipedia's definition of the Ego is that it is a Latin and Greek word meaning I, often used in English to describe the "Self" or the "identity".
In many religions and spiritual practices, it is seen as being different to one's true nature (ie different to our spirit) and that much of human suffering comes from associating ourselves too much with our Ego.
For our purpose, let's define the Ego as the sum of all our habits, desires, fears and insecurities. And because it's not something to be feared but rather something to be loved, let's give it a nickname: Big E.
Now, Big E likes to keep us within what is familiar to us. A recent article I read compared it to a tenant that tries to stop us from leaving our own house.
Imagine that for a second: you are just about to leave to go outside, when Big E stops you in the hallway and uses fear, intimidation and even lies to keep you from leaving and doing anything.
Sometimes you have the courage to discard its attempts, but more times than not you give in and stay at home, in the familiar zone.
For example: you are about to go for a run, when Big E jumps in and tries to manipulate you into staying at home: "It's too cold to run, you could stay at home and go tomorrow instead. You deserve it!"
The problem is, Big E is basing its interventions on your past, not the present. It basically wants to stop you from re-creating previous experiences.
Because they most likely brought you discomfort, pain, humiliation, embarrassment, etc. And to avoid feeling those feelings again, it created habits and repetitive thought patterns to avoid putting ourselves into such situations.
In other words, we create reasons and scenarios to keep us from what Big E sees as "harmful".
So you see, our Ego is trying to protect us. But at the same time, it’s keeping us from building new habits and trying new things.
How do we deal with our Everyday Excuses?
By acknowledging Big E’s purpose and mission.
By talking to it and showing it the truth: a new perspective, a new way of thinking.
By being mindful, present and aware of your moment-to-moment thoughts and feelings.
And by letting it be, but by choosing new thoughts and behaviours.
In this article we're going to look at some of the most common Everyday Excuses that Big E will throw at you, and how to overcome them.
Ready? Here goes:
The Most Common Everyday Excuses: I'm Too...
I'm too old
OK, so this is one of the big ones. I cannot tell you how many times I have heard this said to me, either from clients, friends or people around me.
You may have heard of a recent development in the field of biology: the new science of epigenetics. This new field of research studies how our thoughts, which are waves of energy, affect our bodies.
Yes, you heard that right: what you think has a direct influence on your body!
In other words, if you believe you are too old, then your body will respond accordingly.
Think of this: do you know anyone around you that constantly complains of his or her age? Do they look their age or older? Do they seem fit and full of energy?
I once met a man who was only 30 years old however he looked closer to 50. And you know what he kept repeating when we chatted about exercise? You guessed it: how old he was, how fast time goes by and how he was unable to exercise because of it.
In his book Ageless Body, Timeless Mind, Deepak Chopra tells us that focussing on time and age will in fact speed up the ageing process. But that letting go of our hang-ups and stories about our age can slow it down.
He also mentions an amazing study, in which 95-year olds were put on a weight training routine.
Yes, you heard right: 95 year olds!
And that within 6 weeks, their bodies had seen amazing transformation: their strength improved, and the loss of muscle normally associated with ageing had reversed – in turn rejuvenating their whole physiology.
So, I ask you: where in your life are you holding yourself back because of your age? Because as you can see, it's only a story that Big E is feeding you to keep you from changing and moving forwards.
I'm too weak / uncoordinated / inflexible / out of shape
You would not believe the amount of times I have heard this being said to me: "I would love to exercise, but I am just too out of shape".
Many people do not engage in exercise because they tell themselves they will not be able to perform. In other words, that they are not good enough.
You can imagine the signals you are sending your body when you think such thoughts. Instead of allowing ourselves to try and give it our best, we already start with a sense of defeat. And by definition so does our body.
Of course, a complete beginner will most likely not perform or be as flexible or mobile as someone who has been training for years.
But everyone must start somewhere. And everyone can learn or improve anything they put their hearts to.
Don't allow Big E to trick you into thinking that you should not exercise because you are not good enough at it: the only way to become good at it is of course to do more of it! And not to beat yourself up because you are not a gymnast or marathon runner.
One of my clients for example started training with a nagging, subconscious feeling that he shouldn’t be there: that he was too uncoordinated and weak and that the gym was not for him.
And you know what? That feeling followed him for well over a year, until we worked on it to resolve it. Even though by that time he was far stronger, more flexible and in better shape than he had ever been.
You see, Big E will feed us stories from our past to hold us back. Stories that are no longer true, yet we still believe them.
I'm too tired
Now, we've already seen how Big E uses different forms of manipulation to keep us in our familiar zone.
But not only can it play mind tricks on you, it can also affect you physically. Think of this: have you ever felt a bit queasy before doing something that scared you? Had a sudden need to leave the room and go to the bathroom? Or even developed a headache minutes before you were supposed to leave for the gym?
Big E has more than one trick up its sleeve. Its most common deception is to make you feel tired and drained - and to use that as an excuse to skip your workout and rest instead.
Now of course, it’s important to distinguish between true fatigue and "mind fatigue".
• True fatigue builds up gradually, and is often due to lack of sleep, physical overwork and/or poor eating. • Mind fatigue can be very sudden and generally follows a thought about something outside of our comfort zone.
For example: it's 5pm, you've had a good day at work. Your mind fast forwards to your next action: going for a run. Suddenly, you feel drained, tired and completely lacking in energy. You decide that it's probably not a good idea to workout in such a state: you go home instead to rest.
Our minds are extremely powerful and have great control over our bodies. So it’s important to learn to distinguish mental fatigue and physical fatigue.
Because the best way to overcome mental fatigue is in fact to exercise. That's right: exercise will burn any stress hormones that are causing the feelings, and boost your feel-good hormones, giving you a boost of positive energy and helping you feel more awake than ever. AND you'll sleep better, which will help you combat any physical fatigue throughout the day.
I'm too busy
I get it; we all lead super busy lives. Work, family, friends, all compete for our attention. Exercise? Don't be ridiculous.
And yet people are desperate to be fitter, to lose weight, to have more energy. But when push comes to shove, Big E convinces us that there is no time left for such activities.
Maybe your health and fitness is just not important enough to you (yet). Or maybe you are allowing your fear or uncertainty to run the show.
Either way, its time to commit and get real. If you want to be healthy, you have to make time for it.
And the best way to do so? Plan it.
Book anything related to your health and fitness (or any other non-work related activities you want to do) at least one week ahead in your diary. And only move them if you REALLY have to - and no more than once.
If you move the activity more than once, then it's probably not important enough to you or you're giving in too easily to Big E’s excuses.
I'm too embarrassed
To some people this excuse may sound pretty ridiculous. But in fact, many of my clients have had to deal with it.
You see, many people are convinced that they will look like fools and humiliate or embarrass themselves. So much in fact that it stops them from exercising in public.
Because they have had pretty bad experiences in the past, most likely in their childhood.
Our subconscious minds pick up on such negative experiences. And the more we have, the more likely we are to develop an adverse relationship with exercise in our later years.
So if you were always the last to be picked in school classes, if the other kids always made fun of you, or you were bullied because of your size, height or shape, this could be having an impact today on your feelings towards your body and towards exercise.
Acknowledging your feelings of fear or embarrassment is the first step towards releasing them. Understand that Big E is basing its assumptions on old experiences, from a time when you were less able to handle such situations. Then act anyway!
Now that you understand where your excuses are coming from and what you can do about them, it’s time for you to take action!
Write down in the comments your own Everyday Excuses and how you plan to stick it up to Big E the next time it tries to stop you from living a healthy life you love!
And if you like this article, please SHARE it with those around you and help the world live healthier and happier ☺
Love & Health, Will x
SOURCES: Wikipedia – Definition of Ego Deepak Chopra – Ageless Body, Timeless Mind