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148 – Letting Yourself Down…excuses, excuses



This is the first episode of 2017.  January 2nd, 2017.  Thank you for being here with me today.

Since New Years just passed I am going to take this opportunity to talk about something that is relevant to this holiday.  That is…the different ways that we make excuses for our behavior.

If you have been listening for any length of time, you know how I feel about excuses;  they don’t exist, they are invalid 100% of the time.  With that in mind, I want to talk about a particular type of excuse that often goes unnoticed, and is often repeated over and over as well.

In America where I live, there are certain holidays that come with built in excuses.  New Years is one of them.  On New Years Eve there is a tradition of drinking way too much alcohol.  I’m quite certain many of you listening today are still recovering from your New Year celebration.

Some other American holidays that provide this excuse are St. Patricks Day in March, and 4th of July to name a couple.  I’m sure in other cultures around the world there are similar holidays that provide the participants with a pass to act in ways they would not otherwise.

Please keep in mind, I am not being critical or accusatory here.  I have been guilty of this myself more times than I can count.  I am not telling anyone that they shouldn’t drink or that they shouldn’t get drunk.  I’m not telling anyone how to behave or how to have fun…and these behaviors are not the real issue.

The issue, as I see it, is not the behavior itself but rather the fact that we will so readily abandon our own individual convictions with the slightest provocation…like what day it is.

Back in episode 141 I talked about mental toughness, if you haven’t listened to it, check it out.  In that episode I talk about each of us setting our own standards of behavior as men. 

Deciding for yourself what is acceptable and what is not, and then employing mental toughness as a means to adhere to your own rules.  These are not rules imposed on you by anyone else, these are your own rules that you have decided for yourself. 

I followed that up in episode 142 when I talked about being true to yourself.  Being true to your own convictions.

That is the real issue with these holidays.  Too easily, we abandon our own set of standards and the excuse is;…it was New Years, or whatever other external event is happening.

For a specific example of what I’m talking about, lets say there is a guy named Fred.  Fred has determined through past experience that he should not drink past a certain point, because then he starts making a fool of himself, saying and doing things he regrets, things he cannot undo. 

Fred arrived at this conclusion for good reasons and most of the time he is being true to himself, managing his behaviors in accordance with what he decided as a man.

But then his birthday comes, or New Years, or 4th of July, or ground hog day, or whatever…and in the moment Fred subconsciously removes all impediments to his behavior.  All the things he decided suddenly no longer apply and the excuse is that it is whatever day.

The next day Fred has to start all over.  He has to re-commit to himself, he has to make apologetic phone calls…if he even remembers what he did.  Fred feels like crap physically and emotionally because he knows he let himself down.  It doesn’t have to go this way guys.

I’m using alcohol as an example because it is a common one, but there are many behaviors we excuse ourselves from depending on the holiday. 

Lets say there is a guy named Sam.  Sam has a weight problem, and way back in spring Sam determined that he was not living as his best self, he decided to do something about it and one of the things he decided was that he was not going to eat crap that wasn’t good for him.  No pastries, cookies, cakes or pies.  No Soda and no junk food.

Sam was a rock star all summer, he didn’t touch any of that stuff and he is looking and feeling better than he has in years.  Then Christmas comes…he goes to his grandma’s house where every sugary evil in the universe is laid out in front of him.  All of his fat relatives are diving in, making it all look so delicious. 

Sam has a twinge of conviction, for a fleeting second he remembers the oaths he made to himself, and then he says…”Oh it’s ok, it’s Christmas after all.”  And he joins his relatives at the trough of lard making delicacies.

The next day Sam feels like crap.  His stomach is upset but mostly he is disgusted with himself because he let himself down.  Sam spends the next month working extra hard trying to recover the ground he lost.

For both Fred and Sam it isn’t the end of the world, they can recover from their lapse of judgement…but not without something being diminished.

In each case they used a day on a calendar to make an excuse to behave in a way they regretted.  In each case they let themselves down. 

You know how you feel when a friend lets you down?  It feels crummy, and even if you forgive your friend, it has still lessened your respect for them just a bit.  You may have less confidence in them and you know you can’t rely on them 100%.

The same things happen when we let ourselves down, except instead of feeling that way about someone else, we feel that way about ourself.  The more it happens, the more it erodes our self respect and confidence, and the longer that goes on the harder it is to turn it all around.  This is the issue…this is the danger of allowing any excuses to alter your own convictions.

One tip that might help you not give into these excuses is to consider all of them before hand.  When you decide not to eat crap you have to include Christmas into that equation.  When you decide to to make a drunken fool of yourself you have to factor in New Years and any other occasion that might throw you off track.  Deal with these things prior and you will have more success.

Guilt is a negative, unproductive emotion.  I’m not saying any of this to make anyone feel guilty.  I’m saying this to encourage everyone to just knuckle down and get real with yourself.  When you screw up just let it go, re-commit to the things that matter and keep moving forward becoming the man you want to be.

That’s it for today guys.  Now head out into 2017 armed with the knowledge that it’s all up to you.  You decide who you want to be and how you want to be, and then you hold yourself accountable to these decisions.  You might fail from time to time, and when you do don’t wallow in it…instead learn from it and move forward, being a better man today than you were yesterday.


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