Excusing ourselves

I am good at explaining away bad choices. Even when I know the likelihood of negative consequences is high I can’t seem to break myself out of the cycle. Over the past month particularly I have become hyper-conscious of poor choices I’m making and, in the short term at least, continue to perpetuate. I feel myself leaning towards making them, I tell myself out loud what is happening, I acknowledge what a better course of action is, but that is where the good thought process ends. At least for a time.

We humans like to think we are in control of our lives. It is difficult to remind ourselves this is true only for a veeeery small proportion of it. An obvious example is the weather. We are not able to control whether it will rain, whether it will snow, or whether it will be gloriously sunny (read: too flippin’ hot). What we have the ability to control is whether we wear appropriate clothing, whether we take an umbrella because where we live can have four seasons in one day, whether we go for a run in the rain instead of telling ourselves, “I’ll do it tomorrow”. For some of us if we did that, tomorrow would never arrive. We can make the excuse that it’s not the right weather for it, but it might rain for a week or more. We would never go for the first run that helps us lean into a healthier lifestyle. Last night was cold, it had rained cats and dogs the whole day, and I had a scratchy throat. I debated telling my soccer team I was unwell and wouldn’t make it to the game. In the end I went along and it was a great time. The rain mostly held off and we managed to come back from 0-2 down to win 3-2. Even with only six players in a seven aside league! The exercise was good, seeing friends was worth it, and I was tired enough afterwards I managed to fall asleep with little issue.

It can be difficult to acknowledge the places in our lives we are causing our self harm. Whether that be physical, mental, social, or spiritual. Little things can add up over time and turn into big things, or help remove the barriers to making even more detrimental poor choices. What these are for each of us will be different, and how our mind encourages us to respond will be different too. If I had not decided to play soccer yesterday I may have found a way to excuse myself from walking to work today, or doing my customary twenty-five press-ups. On the flip-side, I make the decision every night that I will sleep at a better time than the night before. Unfortunately I have struggled to make this decision stick over the past two months. This is a less extreme version of unhealthy behaviour than some choices lead to, but it is not a cycle any of us should fall into. When I do my energy levels reduce slowly over time, my body can’t properly heal itself from intense exercise, and my mind is more susceptible to making poor decisions because I am almost perpetually tired. Thankfully I work in a job where I am allowed to take my time and I have only sparse commitments on the weekend so I can rest. Still, I am committed to sleeping more regular hours to help me enjoy writing and music making for years to come.

Are there things you do that you make excuses for so they seem ok? What plans can you put in place to avoid these types of situations? Who are some people you can ask to be accountable for these decisions?

I am blessed to have wonderful communities around me who reach into my life when they see I’m struggling, and making poor choices. Friends from church, from ultimate frisbee, from my university years, and my family, all offer gentle nudges of kindness. They give without obligation for me to accept any offer of help unless I am in a place to do so. I am not as good at thanking them as I would like to be, so here’s an attempt to salute to all of them:

To my loving family, my caring friends, my faithful church community, my sport-loving compadres, thank you. Thank you for showing kindness, and generosity, often with a cup of tea and a listening ear. Thank you.

You are all loved, dear friends. I pray that you will hold onto this feeling above all others, even when things seem grim. Peace to you, dear readers, and your endeavours to find the best choices you can make. And courage so you can make them.

Cover photo by Burak K from Pexels.

12 thoughts on “Excusing ourselves

  1. gulfcoastpoet@gmail.com says:

    Hamish, this post is too close for comfort! I don’t seem to be able to resist working long hours on the computer instead of taking enough breaks or doing other things I should do. I have been up all night. The good thing about it is that I don’t have to get up until I feel like it. 🙂 Anyway, thank you for the reminder. Have a great day! ❤ Cheryl

    Liked by 5 people

    1. Hamish says:

      When I read over the musings I’ve written, I take a moment to think whether I’m actually taking my own advice. (Very often, I’m not!) It’s all too easy to neglect important things (namely eating and sleeping for me) when we get into the flow of something. What if we go to sleep and forget the great idea? What if taking a break means we lose our enthusiasm and motivation? Little steps are how I look to make these important changes. No sense moving bed time from 2am straight back to 10.30pm. It has a high probability of failing. Twenty minutes at a time, a cup of tea, and a book. And getting my mind to be excited about the reading and not the computer at that time!

      Another thing that helps me is being kind to myself. If I get only get six hours sleep, and then I’m annoyed at myself, I use whatever energy I have for something useless! Like everything, it’s about balance. (Seems apt the title of the book I’m writing is Balance of Honour at the moment, eh?)

      Thank you for your heartfelt words and kindness. Peace to you and your loved ones. ♥

      Like

  2. K.L. Hale says:

    Hamish, your writing hits the heart ❤️. I have always been a person of discipline. At times, in my own bad decisions, I discipline myself mentally and emotionally. Having stayed afloat in some rough seas I know what happens when I give up and allow my mindset to shift to undisciplined. Some might say I’m too routine. In actuality, by living in my RV for 4 years, I’ll be the first to pack my bag on a whim and adventure somewhere. To better myself for these occasions I see it necessary to do the most selfless thing I know (sounds like an oxymoron)…take care of myself; hence, I can enjoy the abundant life Christ gives me if I so choose. Aren’t friends wonderful? Isn’t this community wonderful? I’m so thankful. Keep on keeping on my friend. You’re a blessing. 💚

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hamish says:

      Thank you for sharing from the heart. 💙

      A schedule doesn’t have to mean we always do the exact same thing at the exact same time. It means our body, mind, and soul know when we want to work hard, and when we want to rest. Sleeping well is a blessing, and one I treasure as I move towards doing it more often. I look forward to reading about your adventures when travel further afield is possible again.

      When it comes to how we spend our time I like to think we have emotional energy reserves, and certain things take more of that energy than others for each of us. Seeking time with Christ is the way to recharge, and sometimes that means withdrawing to spend time alone to pray and rest.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. K.L. Hale says:

        Beautiful response! I withdraw when my emotions have been exhausted. My alone time with Christ fills me back and provides a refill in my reserves to keep on doing his work. I enjoy your blog and writing. 💚💚💚

        Liked by 1 person

  3. AP2 says:

    Hamish – great thoughts – we all like to rationalise our propensity to slack off from our responsibilities. I’m no stranger to telling myself I’ll do something and then doing the complete opposite! We are all human though and it’s important not to be too hard on ourselves but you’re right we need to be careful. When we start to feel entitled – that we shouldn’t have to do certain things. When we play the blame and/or complain game. Ultimately we are each responsible for ourselves and our own lives – no-one else is. Whether something happened that wasn’t our fault is irrelevant – it’s still our responsibility to deal with it. As a pilot I can attest that sleep plays a critical role to our mental and physical wellbeing – as a rule of thump always take care of this first. Everything else can wait. Thanks for sharing Hamish – wishing you well 🙏

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Hamish says:

      Thank you for more well thought out thoughts, and sharing your experience.

      Balance. It’s so important. Sleeping well, eating well, spending time with loved ones, looking after our physical, mental, emotional health. One of the song verses I’ve written comes to mind:
      “We all like to play the blame games, pointing fingers everywhere
      Living in isolation, or are we all just scared
      Take care but don’t be precious, or you might cut your ego on the knife edge”

      Are we afraid to be wrong? I think I’m often scared of the opposite, that I could actually *succeed* at what I set out to do! And we need to throw that ego of ours out the Window. Live with humility, and grace, alongside the hard work. And you always sound like your priorities are well in order. 😊

      Liked by 1 person

      1. AP2 says:

        Beautiful lyrics Hamish. You’re right. Balance is key. It’s a very difficult thing get right of course.

        The ego is a tool. When it takes over it becomes a very dangerous thing (and it tries very hard). Keep your feet on the ground with one eye on the future. I’d hazard a guess that you’re not like most people who can’t stand being wrong. You’re more like me I think – you’re sacred of conforming the part of yourself that says you‘re not capable (or maybe even letting that part of you go?). Let me tell you Hamish. If you simply put one foot in front of the other you can’t help but succeed. Trust in yourself. Keep going. You’ll be able to put that part of you ego to bed too.

        I’d caution that success is only ever momentary. No-one is successful – they only have periods of success, as they do failure. The most important thing is that you enjoy the journey. I can’t stress that enough.

        Thanks for your kind words Hamish. My priorities are a work in progress too. You come to learn, they always are. Peace to you. Great chat 🙏

        Liked by 1 person

  4. SnapDragon X. says:

    All too often I rationalize my “bad” choices. I tend to compare them to other peoples’ “bad” choices. I’m like, “Is it so bad that I treat myself to another cookie? It’s not like I’m hitting the crack pipe…” You get the idea. Thanks for this reminder. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Hamish says:

    Yes! I very much relate to this! Comparing ourselves to others, the good things and the bad things, is a sure-fire way to find disappointment. I’m very much a ‘just one more cookie’ or ‘just one more episode’ kind of person. Even when I know I shouldn’t. Everything in moderation – even and especially moderation. Each day we are aware of ourselves and the good we want to do in the world is an opportunity to take one more step towards the best we can be.

    Thank you so for sharing. ♥ I hope your baby is doing well, and there’s sunshine where you are. 😊

    Like

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