Do you ever listen to the stories that you tell yourself? We go through our lives with so much noise around us that its almost impossible to isolate and really listen to the things that we tell ourselves.
But do you know what – when we do find a way to listen to ourselves, a lot of the time we don’t like what we hear, so we busy ourselves again to try and drown out the stories that are on repeat within our minds.
Today I went to Woolworth to buy milk and ended up with a trolley full of random things I remembered we needed. A woman behind me in the line at the supermarket noticed my jumper. The Training Room Geelong logo is big, bright and orange – & it grabbed her attention, just as we intended it too. She started a conversation and asked me how often I go to the gym. I explained that I go every day. And that if I cant get there, I train from home or at the very least I go for a walk. The look on her face told me that she was hoping for a different answer. I guess maybe she was hoping I would say I go once a fortnight and I do this magical program that allows me to just look at the weights and feel the results. That’s what most people are really hoping to hear when they ask me about my training!
She explained to me that she knows she should go to the gym, and that her son was encouraging her to start weight training – but she hadn’t gone yet BECAUSE she… didn’t want to look too muscley. I don’t know this lady and she wasn’t asking for my advice, so I didn’t take her to school on that ridiculous comment. But ill comment here in case any of you listening can relate to what she was trying to say.
Ok lady. You haven’t been to the gym in years and you are not going because you are concerned that you might accidentally become a body builder if you do?
Wow – what an excuse. What a story.
But we all do it.
Ive had to school myself lately. I realised that I am starting sentences with a get out of jail free card. When I am trying to excuse myself from something I begin sentences with the words “I just…
I cant think straight because I just woke up.
I don’t want to cook dinner yet, I just got home.
Ive commited to stopping myself every time I begin a sentence with “I just…” because what I am doing in that moment is prequalifying whatever I am going to explain with an excuse.
Two excuses I use too often are “I just had a baby” and “I just moved to Geelong recently”.
These two statements seem to be my go to excuses when I am looking for a loop hole or avoiding the hard truth of my own failings or limitations. Its easier to say “I haven’t hit the targets I set for my business this quarter, Ive found it hard to double down and focus because I just had a baby” or “I don’t know my way from here to there because I just moved to Geelong” or “A light walk is ok today, even though I am supposed to do a weight session, I should really ease up on myself because I just had a baby”.
Ive been living in Geelong for 3 years. I didn’t just move here. And I didn’t just have a baby. My son is over a year and a half now. Ive just become comfortable with using that as an excuse – Because at one point – it was valid! When you are a new mum trying to navigate the needs of a new born, recover from birth, function on next to no sleep ‘I cant because I just had a baby’ ..thats not an excuse, that’s the damn truth.
But over time, that statement loses its validity. Its not true anymore. Over a year on – I didn’t ‘JUST’ have a baby did I?
Its just an excuse that I am comfortable throwing down when its convenient.
Here’s the thing – that one word makes a world of difference. If I take the word ‘just’ out of those sentences – my excuses begin to fall flat. “I cant find the energy to go for a walk today, I just had a baby” becomes “I cant find the energy to go for a walk today – I had a baby”.
That doesn’t fly. Am I always going to use that as an excuse?
Can you see how the stories we tell ourselves can hold us back. We will never make progress in any area of our life if we are committed to playing out the character in the story we are subconsciously telling ourselves.
I have shifted my mindset by rewriting the story to accurately reflect where I actually am in my life at the moment. Without the excuse of ‘just having a baby’ – I have created space to begin to push myself to do the difficult things that are required for growth.
Nothing comes from nothing. What we don’t change, we accept. If there is an area of your life that you are uncomfortable and unsatisfied with – you need to make moves to change it up. You will never find the strength to do that if you are weighed down by the stories that have held you back up until this point.
So how do we let them go?
A simple question helps me break through my own bullshit.
Whenever I feel an excuse bubbling up within me – before I give it life and speak it, I take a moment to ask myself “Is that true?”
Is what I am about to say – actually true.
The work of Byron Katie has impacted and influenced me so dramatically in the last few years – this question comes from her work.
It forces you to question your own thoughts. Too often we just accept the thoughts that pop into our mind as the truth. More often than not – we are bullshitting ourselves.
When I stop and ask myself the question ‘Is that true’ more often than not the answer is ‘NO’.
Excuses like ‘Ive got not time to do that’, ‘Im too busy’, ‘Its too hard’, ‘theres no point’, ‘I don’t care’… they come undone when I stop and ask myself ‘Is that true’.
Ive shared this strategy to support people in their training – when we tell ourselves ‘we cant’ do something, usually ‘we can’ – we are just choosing to tell a different story, one that gets us out of having to generate the energy, resilience and grit we need to keep going.
You can keep running. You can hold that plank. You can do one more sit up. Whenever you feel an excuse bubbling up ready to take you down – stop and ask ‘Is that really true’.
Its probably too ambitious to think that we are ever going to be able to stop making excuses. Its human nature to look for obstacles and create road blocks whenever we are pushing ourselves to venture out of the predictability and complacency of our comfort zones. Our excuses take us down and keep us small – but they are actually only trying to protect us.
Accept that you are going to hear yourself making excuses – and rather than judging yourself harshly, or giving into those excuses… come up with a way to defend your highest self against them.
The highest version of yourself is begging you to fight back against excuses. Your untapped potential and deep, genuine fulfilment cant be heard, felt or explored while you are busy telling bullshit stories to yourself that keep you small.
In the moment that I acknowledge that the story I am telling myself isn’t true – I get to make a choice. Do I want to stay small and hide behind the story or expand. I choose to grow. Every day.
You can too. You are the only person that can action your intentions. You are completely in control of how your life plays out. We cant change the narrative of our past, but we can certainly decide that we wont be held back by the stories we tell ourselves.
We don’t have to wait to start living as the highest version of ourselves – you can start right now.
Remember as a kid, when you were at school and there would be a really long skipping rope and a line of kids waiting to jump in. When it was your turn did you ever do that thing where you would stand there, watching the rope go round and round, moving your hands up and down with the intention to jump in, but you were just too nervous to just go?
We have all done that. Hesitated.
We do it every day.
We know what we want and who we want to be.
We talk about it. We visualise it. We set goals and plan for it.
But when its time to jump, to action our intentions, to actually DO the things that will make a difference – something in us tells us to wait. And we do.
What are you waiting for? What is the story that you tell yourself in that moment?
Our stories hide in our responsibilities, our values, our loyalties, when we prioritise others we let ourselves feel good about the excuses we make for not taking care of ourselves – but again, nothing comes from nothing.
You can polish your excuse and make it as presentable and convincing as possible – at the end of the day, a great excuse will get you nowhere.
If you are struggling to break through your excuses – write them down. If you have made a commitment and you feel yourself about to jeopardise it, take a moment and write down the story you are telling yourself about why that is ok. Read it back. Out loud. Ask yourself – is that true? Is it really true? Am I going to let that hold me back?
If you have been trying to get the courage to go to the gym for the first time but you keep putting it off, write down why that is. It is so common for people to feel really anxious about looking out of place and feeling silly. People tell themselves that everyone is going to look at them and judge them for their attempts. Write that story down. Flesh it out. Read it. You will actually find that when you ask ‘Is that true’ you wont be able to answer with a definitive ‘yes’ or ‘no’. You don’t know what is going to happen. You might very well walk through the doors and be greeted with warmth and encouragement because everyone remembers what it feels like to be nervous during your first session. If you don’t know whether something is true or not – isn’t it worth finding out?
You matter. Start speaking your truth. Not to others – to yourself. Stop telling yourself stories and get real about what is important to you and what it is going to take to start truly living your life on your terms.
The stories we tell ourselves aren’t true.
You can trust the next chapter of your life – but only if you trust the author.
I know that we cant rewrite our pasts – but I believe we can make up for it by writing ourselves a new chapter. One that sees us action our intentions and step into the highest versions of ourselves.
I want to hear about it. Reach out and tell me about the way you are reframing your self talk or the excuses you are calling out.
Because if you can do it, I can do it, And if I can do it you can do it – and when we generate that unwavering strength and resilience together we become unstoppable.