The other day, as I was walking home from my workout, I landed on a thought that could definitely benefit anyone out there who has ever struggled with talking themselves out of doing something.
So, basically, all of us.
I’ll spare you the story-time retelling of what lead me to this idea, and get right down to it. First of all, you’re smart. Even if you’re not that intelligent, your brain is very capable of convincing you of things. It’s really quite fascinating, I think. In one of my child development courses, my professor loved talking about how interesting it is to watch cognitive growth in kids, as they learn how to lie or try different methods to get what they way. As adults, we’re no different. Of course, we can buy our own candy and decide what time we go to bed, so our challenge is much more internal.
As adults, our obstacle is often our own thought-process.
This, you know. We develop fantastic skills in excuse-making. Why we don’t exercise, why we eat this and not that, why we don’t talk to that person, why we don’t leave this relationship. As we progress through adulthood, our brains increasingly figure out how to convince us right out of doing something. If we’re honest with ourselves, we know exactly what’s going on, but we go along with it anyways. Why? Because our brain is giving us an out — a rationale for getting what we want. Even if what we want is to AVOID something, we can convince ourselves to take whatever path it is we prefer. Maybe it’s simple laziness, maybe it’s fear, maybe it’s a lack of self-confidence or self-worth. Whatever the emotional heart of the issue is, our brain is darn happy to help us avoid rocking the boat, because ya know what? Facing those things is scary.
Like Joker in The Dark Knight, your brain isn’t giving you excuses because it’s some outside force trying to ruin your life. Joker/Your Brain’s greatest strength, in this area, is simply offering you a reason to do what you already want to do. Does Joker create Two-Face in that movie? No… he simply sets him free. That’s how it is when we make up excuses… we’re giving ourselves a reason to do as we please. Our brain facilitates the rationale to keep us from having to change that steady path we’re on, regardless of the fact that we may “want” to change and that this change may be better for us. Obviously, it’s good to be rational, but that is where some seem to muddle up the difference between “reason” vs “excuse.” So, what is my grand idea to queue us on when we’re slipping into excuse territory? What is this test? Here it is:
If you’re trying to convince yourself not to do something, that means you should probably do it.
Of course, this takes being honest with yourself. It can take a lot for folks to be honest with others, letting friends or family in and being vulnerable, so don’t even worry about all of that. Just acknowledge your own thought-process, because remember… you’re smart. You may be able to create valid enough excuses to convince yourself out of doing something, but you’re also likely smart enough to know what you’re doing. You don’t have to admit it to anyone. This is just between you and your brain. The value of challenging yourself on this has less to do with the actual subject at-hand is (e.g. working out that day) and more with your ability to stand up to the whims of your excuse-a-rific thought patterns. The more often you can stand up to yourself and face these internal challenges, the stronger a person you’ll be and the more you’ll be able to enjoy this short life we have.
You still have to actually DO the thing you’re trying to avoid, of course, but the next time you’re giving yourself excuses, try to cut those thoughts off with the simple reminder that, if your brain is working that hard to give you an excuse to not do something, it’s probably something worth doing… so just do it 🙂 .