I’m too tired.
I don’t feel well.
I don’t have the energy for that.
I can’t deal with this.
I don’t have time.
These are all just excuses I give myself.
A few months ago, I started reading Can’t Hurt Me by David Goggins. He’s an ex-Navy Seal and has endured more physical and emotional punishment than 99.99% of the population, and he thrived.
It started to dawn on me that we’re all capable of incredible feats of physical and mental endurance. The key is to have the right attitude and never, ever give up.
Don’t get me wrong: my depression is real. On my lowest days I can barely get out of bed. I’m not inventing that illness – it’s truly debilitating.
But, if I’m truly honest with myself, how many times have I allowed myself off the hook by coming up with various excuses?
For example, I’m trying to make myself do at least a bare minimum of exercise every day. I’ve found a HIIT workout I can do at home and it takes less than 10 minutes. (I definitely feel the benefits from such a short workout, though a proper 25 minute workout is better).
And yet… I often struggle to make myself do it. It’s only 10 minutes! And I’ve proven to myself over and over again that regular exercise is absolutely fundamental to my mental health. There are so many benefits!
I seem to be a master at coming up with excuses and distracting myself.
But if David Goggins can run on fractured legs, and if people we know can complete 120 mile Ultra-marathons with chest infections and other serious injuries… maybe getting out of bed needn’t be quite so difficult for me.
Someone I know has Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, which in her teens meant she was asleep for 20+ hours each day. Doctors told her she should forget about school and getting qualifications, she was going to be bed-ridden for life.
That same person went on to achieve the highest grades possible in her Bachelor’s degree and Master’s degree. She is now just a few months away from completing a PhD.
Not only that, she runs ultra-marathons! She has a full-time job, plus an independent business on the side! She never stops!
She hasn’t taken a sick day off work in over 6 years!
To be clear, she is still very ill. She is permanently tired. That’s not hyperbole, she literally never feels refreshed, even after a good night’s sleep.
But she simply doesn’t allow anything to beat her, she just keeps on going.
So what’s my excuse?
I think the key for me will be learning to be ambivalent to my own thoughts and feelings, i.e. mindfulness.
So, instead of analysing how I feel and using that to come up with excuses for why I can’t do something…
… what if I decide to do the right thing anyway, no matter how I’m feeling?
What would my life look like if I started doing that consistently?