What are excuses? They are defined as follows:
To explain (a fault or an offense) in the hope of being forgiven or understood
Why talk about excuses on a website about health? Well, the answer to that is obvious. An excuse is a tool people use in order to explain underperformance. You may know more about dieting and exercise than I do. Your thindex may be below zero and mine is 31. Why is that? How can that be explained? I am doing everything I can do to be healthy. I like the numbers that I see. My weight, my lab values, blood pressure and so forth make me happy so I don’t need excuses here. I save my excuses for forgetting Valentines day, anniversaries, and birthdays. Health is too precious to require excuses. Eleven years ago, I had heart arrhythmias and dropped beats, I was 40 pounds overweight, my stomach was sticking out, my cholesterol was 199 and my systolic blood pressure was up. I had excuses then:
1. not much time to exercise
2. ate lunch and often dinner out
3. developed an addiction for chocolate frozen yogurt
4. was tired in the evening and liked TV a lot
5. often bought brain freezes for myself and the office in the afternoon
Well, I had not thought of the “thindex” concept then but the magic number would have been 14, with the bmi of 25 and the vo2max of 40. This would have put me halfway between zero and the green line.
I made an executive decision to rein in the excuses at least where health was concerned. I was afraid I was about to have an “event” as discussed in Health Step 6. In order to stop the excuses, I did the following:
1. went on the Ornish/Pritikin low fat diet
2. walked or ran to work
3. stopped eating at restaurants
4. just ate my own food, mostly vegetarian and fish -no dairy, no red meat
It took 3 weeks to get used to it. I progressively felt better and better:
1. Sinuses cleared up and I could “clear” them when diving deep in the water (couldn’t do that for 40 years)
2. no more headaches (still none for last 13 years)
3. perfect sleep pattern
4. arrhythmias went away including dropped beats
5. blood pressure dropped
6. weight stabilized at 145
What’s the point, Joe?
When it comes to your personal health – eliminate all of your excuses and take control of your ship. Make sure every single molecule you ingest is going to make you healthier. Exercise like your life depended on it because it does. Learn from our website and from the authors we recommend.
The rest of this blog is on excuses in general. In my opinion it is easier to deal with excuses in health situations than it is in life in general – but that may just be me.
Where do excuses come from?
I tried to locate a place in the brain from which they originate, but my fingers got tired using the computer (excuse). Most certainly the origin would be in the frontal lobes that sit on top of your eyeballs behind your forehead.
Excuses can start early in life when you develop language. If the parent/child relationship allows relief for excuses then the excuses tend to continue. After all, a small child fouls up almost everything, that is how they learn. If the parents are excuse people then the child can buy into the excuse concept easily. It could be that certain inherited brains just naturally generate more creative excuses than others. There is no doubt that excuses are hard to move away from, once they are incorporated into behavior. They allow for laziness, lateness, failure to do the work, sleeping in, not going to work, and generally not taking responsibility for a lousy performance like me not finding where they come from in the brain.
Excuses are the nails used to build a house of failure. ~Don Wilder and Bill Rechin
When do you or I pull one out of the bag? Well, it isn’t when we do our best work is it? It is that little bit of help to explain why something did not occur as planned. Often there was a plan A but not plan B or C. And we all should know that the world runs on plan B or C.
So, does the bag of excuses ever get empty? No, the excuse center can become an endless supplier of last minute excuses for any occasion.
Chris will not be in school because he has an acre in his side.
The excuses learned at home can be expanded in a school situation. Most teachers get tired of excuses early in their careers when you’ve got 30 little excuse makers looking up at you.
My son is under the doctor’s care and should not take P.E., please execute him.
When parents take kids out of school and send phony excuses – what message does that give to the child? That child will grow into an adult that has a poor work record and moves toward pleasure for the moment while coming up with the appropriate excuse.
Excuses are the nails used to build a house of failure. ~Don Wilder and Bill Rechin
The operation of your brain
Brain tissue functions by transmitting electrical impulses. These impulses can be measured as brain waves. When something like an excuse is generated for a problem, then it becomes the way that brain operates. It will do the same thing for every failure. It becomes the way to get through life without really having a very enjoyable life.
He that is good for making excuses is seldom good for anything else. ~Benjamin Franklin
Monkeys in the wheelhouse
In the health steps, thindex discusses the concept of “monkeys in the wheelhouse”, which is losing control of your ship which becomes run by a bunch of monkeys that take over the wheelhouse of the ship. This can be where excuses take you. It is like a virus in your computer causing it to not function as a slick computer anymore.
The best day of your life is the one on which you decide your life is your own. No apologies or excuses. No one to lean on, rely on, or blame. The gift is yours – it is an amazing journey – and you alone are responsible for the quality of it. This is the day your life really begins. ~Bob Moawad
Now – lets talk about quitting the excuse habit
Obviously, I would not have put this blog on excuses in the website if I did not believe you could change. “Change” is a very difficult thing because of the way the brain operates. It tends to respond to stimuli the same way it did before. You tend to drive the same route to work each day. You tend to sit in the same seat in the classroom each day. We are creatures of habit because our brains get comfortable with certain defined patterns.
There are some clues in your past that can predict your ability to change.
1. Have you ever quit an addicting habit like tobacco or alcohol?
2. Have you toughed it out in school when every molecule in your body wanted to quit?
3. Can you look out in your future and see yourself in a better place in 3 or 5 years and then work towards that goal?
4. Can you make yourself go for a long walk or run in the rain when you do not want to?
5. Can you handle pain well?
6. Can you turn off the TV during your favorite show to get work done?
7. Can you put tasks in a priority, and then do the worst first and most fun last?
Being able to delay gratification is a true gift. It may be hardwired into us or we may be able to learn to be stricter in the way our brains operated our bodies. Or – said more like an Orthopedist: Throw the monkeys out of the wheelhouse!
If you answered “no” to most of the 7 questions and would have eaten the marshmallow before the examiner got out the door in the link above, then it will be a herculean effort to run your life so you don’t use excuses. If just looking at those seven characteristics brings up excuses you could use to explain why they would be hard for you to do – then changing behavior to not use excuses may be tough for you.
Difficulty is the excuse history never accepts. ~Edward R. Murrow
Making the change:
If you are an excuse machine either do this or move on. Don’t try it or dabble in it and don’t start thinking of an excuse to explain impending failure. Some times in life you need to be tough on yourself and this is one of them.
Step 1. Take a paper and pencil with you and write down the excuses that come up in your brain. Identify the enemy. Do this for a day.
Step 2. That night, lying in bed, before you go to sleep, search back over the day and see if you can add to the list.
Step 3. Before you go to sleep, think about what you could have done for each excuse that would have eliminated the need for the excuse. And “no”, shooting your boss is not acceptable.
Step 4. When you wake up the next day, you monitor every single decision you make about what you are doing and you do the correct thing to not need an excuse. If you see an excuse coming up, you change your behavior if possible or if not you take full responsibility and do not make up an excuse. A reminder rap on the head or snapping a rubber band on your wrist can be an annoying thing that keeps the subject on the front screen of that computer that is operating you.
Step 5. When you go to bed at night, you think about what you could have done better and plan to do so the next day.
As you are successful in this makeover, you will note that people react to you differently in a good way. They don’t have to come up with their part of the excuse conversation such as “better luck next time” and “well, maybe you will get a better alarm clock next Christmas”.
The next phase is to make of list of chores you do not particularly like but need to get done. After you have your list, rearrange the list with the hardest at the top and do it first and then work your way down to the less onerous tasks below. Remember – no excuses.
Success is a tale of obstacles overcome, and for every obstacle overcome, an excuse not used. ~Robert Brault, www.robertbrault.com
The person who really wants to do something finds a way; the other person finds an excuse. ~Author Unknown
Excuses are the training wheels of life. You can get around, but not very far. J. McFarland M.D.
An expert on this subject is Dr. Wayne Dyer “Excuses Begone!” There is a summary of the book in “Recommended reading” back at the lodge.
So that’s the blog on excuses. Identifying them is key. Eliminating them requires time and dedication to moving through your day meticulously doing what is necessary to avoid coming up with an excuse. Then, checking your progress at night before going to sleep. In the morning, plan your attack on excuses again, to keep reminding yourself that you want to see the change.