by Doris Jucht
Our physical, mental and spiritual health depend on our life choices. Sure, there are factors that are beyond our control and do not necessarily benefit us. Still, generally, making things better or worse is definitely our call.
From small things to life-changing decisions, our choices are what impact our upcoming reality. So, how can we ensure that we consistently make good life choices? There are actually many ways to promote good decision-making in our life, yet a great way to begin is undoing our habit of making up excuses.
As kids, we test the power of making up excuses very early in our lives, until it becomes an instinctive art, ingrained by repetition and an unhealthy pattern of manufacturing facts to justify our actions. We can all remember times as little kids when, after a wrongdoing, our parents or caretakers would scold and nag us with the intention of giving us a life lesson but, instead of taking the blame and learning from the experience, we often came up with not one but several excuses to try to justify our behavior. As teenagers, we mastered the art of making up excuses until it became part of our daily routine. And as mature adults, we continued this practice, sometimes consciously and sometimes not even noticing it.
It takes a lot of courage to acknowledge and own the fact that we all practice the art of making up excuses, and it may take a while until we’re able to break the habit and change our behavioral impulse of justifying our actions, decisions and intentions.
Let’s take food as an example. Who hasn’t been in a position where making an unhealthy food choice leads us to stating all the reasons that justify it, and all the rationale that makes it a valid choice. We hear ourselves saying things like, “I’m too stressed out to think about dieting now” or “I’m too bored and I don’t know what else to do” or “My body is craving sweets and I have to listen” or “I eat that because I’m too tired to cook this late at night” or “If I don’t fill up my stomach, I’ll get cranky and I’ll be very difficult to be with.”
Have you ever heard, “I’m overweight because I have a thyroid issue” or “I’m overweight because I retain a lot of liquid” or “I’m overweight because I have a slow metabolism” or “I’m overweight because of my family’s genes?” When it comes to eating healthy, we can think of a myriad of excuses not to choose healthy food, and oftentimes those excuses are strong enough for us to believe them as irrevocable facts.
In many cases, excuses become beliefs that perpetuate bad decision making.
Now, you could confirm… but I do have a thyroid dysfunctionality or my family does have a history of obesity or it’s true that I’m too tired to cook tonight. And yes, all those facts are real and present but, most of the time, there are still ways of making good food choices around those facts, too.
Similar mechanisms are used by humans in other realms beside food choices—the way we choose words when we communicate with each other, how we pick actions and paths at home, at school or at work, or how we choose a friend, a sexual partner or a life partner, among many others.
The most likely reason we embrace the art of making up excuses has to do with emotional fears. We’re afraid of being ashamed, humiliated, put down, given the sensation that we are soft or weak or, even worse, not capable of doing things differently. Our ever-capable brain adopts and promotes the art of making up excuses to protect us from the emotional impact that an incorrect choice may have on our ego and our feelings.
It’s hard and it takes effort to be present, open to criticism, to accept responsibilities and to be accountable for our actions. But it gets easier if we develop brutal honesty and compassion for ourselves and for others, starting with the realization that we are wonderful but imperfect human beings, working hard for continuous improvements and spiritual progress.
Developing compassion for others will in-turn drive home the idea of accepting our defects of character, give us the encouragement to keep working on being better people, and replace the art of making up excuses with the beautiful and miraculous art of self-improvement.
Life Coach Doris Jucht brings nearly 20 years of experience helping clients through some of their most challenging moments in life. For a free phone consultation, call 305-332-5832, email [email protected] or visit LifeCoachDoris.com.