I don't know if was the sub-zero temperatures we have been having up here the past few weeks, if it was the end of a very long day or if it was just the culmination of years of hearing, "I can't because…." but I snapped. Something took over, it was like I was possessed. I felt like Linda Blair in the Exorcist, I think my head MAY have actually spun around. (If you have a sensitivity or are in any way squeamish to profanity you may want to cover your eyes for a bit and and have a friend put some White Out on the screen for you.
As most people who know me can attest I enjoy swearing like a sailor on leave, but I usually refrain from using vulgarity when I write.) I threw down the handful of papers I had in my hand and exclaimed, "BULLSHIT!" As I looked into the stunned faces of the people around the table, I quickly realized I had two choices. I could either back down and apologize for my sudden outburst… or I could commit and forge ahead not knowing for sure what was going to come out of my mouth next and run the risk of everyone getting up and leaving, having people break into tears or just go and try and get me fired. So, obviously I chose to commit (most of my dates usually end with tears or people getting up and leaving, so I was prepared to take the risk.) I have been working with this group of people for about 5 months now, without getting into too many details, let me just say that their lives are LITERALLY at stake.
"We have been meeting every week for several months now and all I keep hearing are excuses! Excuses why you can't eat better. Excuses why you can't move more. Excuses why you can't help YOURSELVES save your LIVES! If all you want to do is come here once a week and give me a bunch of excuses as to why you can't do ANYTHING to change your life, then we need to just end this shit now… I have better things to do than be here all night to listen to a bunch of bullshit excuses. I TRULY care and I WANT more than anything for you to be able to turn things around and get healthier but I can't continue to want it more for you than YOU want it for yourself."
We can call them whatever we want to really… Excuses, reasons, justifications… but at the end of the day they are just the crutches we use to absolve us from taking personal responsibility, taking CONTROL over our lives. It's WAY easier to make an excuse than it is to make a change, I get that. But I have to ask you this… is that really what you want? Do you want a life patched together by excuses for why you never did anything you wanted to do? Never went anywhere you wanted to go? Never took care of yourself? Are you looking for the easiest way out? I remember hearing YEARS ago one of my favorite lines in a movie (it stopped me in my tracks) it's from The Big Chill, "Have you ever made it through the day without a good justification?" I don't remember the next line…but that one has never left me. I think most people WANT to be able to change and take control, but just don't know how.
I pretty much flunked out of school after kindergarten but there is a word I remember from 6th grade science class (Thank you Mrs. Schartz! She also suggested I come clean to my parents about how I burned off all my eyebrows with my failed at-home science experiment… I'm not sure I ever did, but that's a story for another time!)
Inertia. Inertia states that a body at rest tends to STAY at rest, while a body in MOTION tends to STAY in motion. According to this principle it's easier to keep living the life we're living now… eating Taco Bell for lunch, picking up a Whopper on the way home where we will sink into the couch and watch The Real Housewives of Wherever and justify our behavior by telling ourselves we deserve a burger and mindless TV because we've earned it… we've had a hard day, it's cold, we're tired, we don't know how to cook…fill in the blank.
However, inertia ALSO tells us that if we start to change things, start to GET IN MOTION… we will tend to STAY that way! That's great news right?!? (And just for the record, when I say "get in motion" I don't necessarily mean becoming physically active, although I obviously advocate that, I am really referring more to making whatEVER positive changes you need to make in your life to start getting you closer to where you want to be.)
And that's how we start to take control… how we start to change. By starting small you can set the wheels in motion… you can build a foundation on which to build more change and more success. Trying to change EVERYthing in your life at once is like trying build a skyscraper on quicksand. It's not going to work! It's going to feel overwhelming from the very start… and you'll constantly feel like you're scrambling around trying to keep everything going so that it doesn't sink and disappear with no evidence that you ever tried to build something. But if you pick ONE thing to start with and get that under control, get to the point that whatever it is you changed or improved now feels like second nature, natural… then you can choose your next brick to put down. Keep tackling everything one at a time and before you know it things will just naturally start to fall in place. Before you know it, you'll lose your tolerance for excuses… either from yourself or other people. I can't remember who said this, and I'm paraphrasing, but it goes like this… "after a while, if people won't accept your excuses, you stop looking for them."