Can you believe we’re already in February!?! It literally feels like one minute we were celebrating New Years, and then two blinks later I’m looking at the calendar thinking what the fuck!? Even though it’s a little overwhelming I shouldn’t be surprised, because I feel like we all say this for every year that goes by.
However, for me I’m determined to make this year different. I don’t want to get to Christmas at the end of the year and feel like I achieved nothing. I don’t want to spend another year floating through life aimlessly and letting everything else – family, work, social groups, life admin, the rat race, whatever it is – guide my life for me.
At the beginning of this year I set myself some goals that I can measure monthly, to ensure I stay on the right track, and one of them was to read one personal growth book a month. To ensure I stayed accountable, I did something I never would have done previously, and joined a book club. More specifically, one for ambitious, entrepreneurial women whose passion it is to make their lives better and become their own form of success.
For January, we were given “The Magic of Thinking Big” by David J Schwartz, which goes into detail about how to change your mind-set for happiness and success. While I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book cover to cover, there were some concepts that forced a mirror to my face and really jolted my self-awareness in a way that was quite confronting! One of these concepts is Excusitis – the failure ‘disease’.
Even though the concept of ‘excuses holding us back’ is nothing new, the way he frames it as an ailment or disease just flicked a switch in my head. Like any disease, excuses rot not only your brain, but your perspective, your relationships and your life. He explains it as:
“The people who go nowhere in life and have no plans will always have a bookful of reasons to explain why. They are quick to explain why they haven’t, why they don’t, why they can’t and why they aren’t. Like any disease, excusitis get worse the longer it’s left untreated.”
“A victim of this thought disease goes through this mental process, – “I’m not doing as well as I should, what can I use as an alibi that will help me save face? Let’s see, poor health? Lack of education? Too old? Too young? Bad luck? Personal misfortune? The way my family brought me up?” Once the victim of this failure disease has selected a ‘good’ excuse, they stick with it. And each time the victim makes the excuse, it becomes imbedded deeper within their sub-consciousness. Thoughts, positive or negative, grow stronger when fertilised with constant repetition.”
I hadn’t realised it fully until the end of last year when I started my journey, but up until then I was deeply weighed down and completely blind to this mental ‘disease’. My boyfriend would even flag it with me constantly about how negative I was and how much I complained. Sometimes he would tease me playfully and other times he’d had a gutful of me. And every time he pulled me up on it, I remember feeling resentful and thinking “but you don’t understand, the reason behind why I’m feeling this way is totally justified because of X, Y and Z.” But what I was really doing was making up excuses to hide behind my excuses. I didn’t want to take ANY responsibility for the way I was feeling!
Then there were other times when I would pick up on how negative I was. I’d try to hold it in but would quickly realise that I hardly had anything to say outside of complaining and having self-pity! I literally had nothing to talk about! Was I complaining that much and thinking so negatively that I actually had nothing nice or positive to say? No wonder I was miserable!
So I started making small changes to my thinking, which helped me gain more awareness on how my thinking was holding me back. One of my points in what 5 days in the Arctic taught me about myself is that we are all 100% completely and utterly accountable for our own thoughts, feelings and emotions. And it’s a very confronting and unnerving feeling to realise that you only have yourself to blame.
What finally confirmed everything for me was this chapter of the book. It gave me a very harsh reality check, verified by a third party (outside of my boyfriend) telling me that the reason why I was unhappy was because… of me. I had been hiding behind deeply engrained excuses. In turn it was also fuelling and rotting my brain with other mental diseases like anxiety, stress, indecisiveness, worry, panic, perfectionism and over-analysis.
However I believe there is hope. I want to prove that it’s all curable. It does require a very hard look in the mirror, a reality check and the commitment to self-awareness in wanting to change. I believe that everyone desperately wants their dreams to come true, however we can’t win medals if we’re sick in bed with disease, physical, mental or otherwise. We all owe it to ourselves to put our mental health first, and invest in becoming the type of person that will then go on to achieve your own successes.