Settling, excuses, and the “if only” mind

Here is an excerpt from the wonderful book That’s It!.?  If you haven’t read it, you should.  It is filled with excellent insight and perspective written in a fun, fast, and easy to relate to manner.  This is from Chapter 4 entitled, “Settling.  Did you?”  Check it out!!


The result of settling is people who plod through their lives pursuing things without even questioning why.  Our worlds are so busy and information is so available it is just easier to fill our time with information rather than be quiet and listen to the signals our body and spirit are giving us.  Boredom is the enemy!  But if we fill our time with information and activity, rarely if ever thinking about what it is in this life that can make us truly happy or satisfied, or passionate, when will the signal finally get to us?  That’s it!  That’s the frog in the water!!  Eventually, the signal will get through and we get a clear look.  We may not like what we see.  Like the stories we’ve described here, or the people you know who did the same thing, or the millions of others who were pulled from the matrix and didn’t like where they were.

So why do we settle for our current situation?  Maybe laziness, maybe it is our conditioning to avoid the tough decisions.  We soothe ourselves into believing that this is it; that this is as good as it gets and this is the life.  Maybe it is!  Maybe no soothing is necessary at all.  But if there is a need to sooth the dissonance…the equity theory is lurking out there.  Just as sure as the sun rises in the east it will always be there.  And if you aren’t honest with yourself and true to your thoughts, hopes, or dreams, it will create dissonance in you.  This dissonance will get bigger and bigger if not faced.

Maybe we want to be a martyr.  We’ve all known people like this.  They will couch their situation with reasons why they had to be in the service of others.  “I had a kid so I had to ….”, or “It was time to grow up and act responsibly so I ….”  “I really didn’t want to, I wanted to be a XXX, but this happened to me (you hear this one a lot, like something “happened” to them that they couldn’t affect – they are just the receivers of external circumstances) so I had to XXX”.  Or as Cuba Gooding’s character Rod Tidwell in the movie Jerry McGuire said when Jerry was giving him his “I’m a cautionary tale” speech.  “Well boo…f-ing…hoo”.  Put bluntly, this is just b.s.

In the end, maybe we do it because we are lazy, or maybe we do it because we believe we have to.  There are so many “thou shalts” in our lives that we accept them as rules, or requirements on us and our primary objective is to live by them.  Then…one day…we get an idea that there may be more to it than these rules and requirements….

Here are a few excuses we can think of, maybe you can think of more:

It’s too late, I’m too old

I didn’t have enough schooling

I was raised wrong; it’s my parent’s fault

I was hurt before, and I never want to go through that pain again.

I can’t afford it.  I have too much debt now.

That time of my life is over.

It’s not about what I want anymore, it’s about my kids.


Or maybe with you it’s the “if only” mind.   You know the “if only” mind; that voice in our heads that constantly bombards us with the reasons why not?  Here are a few:

If only I was younger I could start that career

If only I was thinner I would get the better job

If only I had someone to love or love me I could be happy

If only there were more like-minded people at work

If only people would understand me

If only I were raised differently

If only I lived in the city

If only I lived in the country

You get the idea. It’s really the same thing – just more excuses.  Maybe you find something in there you’ve said or maybe still believe.  Maybe you can think of more.  Aren’t they soothing?  They allow us to ease that voice in our heads that we should be doing something more; something better; something more authentic.  Ahhh, it’s not our fault.  “I am simply a victim of external circumstances and it’s not my fault that I am in this situation.”  Nice….but like it or not it’s still your situation.

So how do we not let our past experiences define us?  There is the saying, “every experience is conditioned by that which precedes it” – this means our experiences can make us wiser, but how do we not fall into identifying them as “us”?  How can we carve out that slice of awareness which will enable us to not identify ourselves with these “negative” experiences?

Here’s something from The Wisdom of No Escape by Pema Chodoron that further articulates this point.

We each have our own mixed bag of neurosis, insecurities, perceptions and qualities.  Therefore, there is not one way that works completely for us all.  Nobody can tell us what to accept; what opens up our world, and what to reject; what seems to keep us spinning in some kind of repetitive misery.

This practice (meditation) helps us know this basic energy very well, with tremendous warmth and honesty, and we begin to figure out for ourselves what is poison and what is medicine.

You know it’s true – how many times have you thought something bad had happened only to decide later that it was really not that bad, maybe even good.  We’ve personally known many people who have been fired from their jobs.  Initially this is almost never received as good news, but then they end up finding a job much better than the one they were fired from!  This phenomenon has happened too many times to count.

We settle because it’s easier – our relationships, our jobs, our lives.  The almighty “roundtuit” rules all; you know the roundtuit, “I’m gonna do that when I get around to it.”

Think about how many doctors and dentists, you know, the “professionals” who have kids that do the same thing.  I know some of these kids and they’re no smarter than other people I know who dig ditches or pour concrete for a living.  And yet, these kids go farther and are more successful, at least by one means of measurement.  Why is that?  Expectation?  Confidence?  An unwillingness to settle?

We only settle for something that doesn’t fully satisfy us because we can’t figure out how to get out of it or we are too lazy to do anything about it.  We think it impossible or too much work to really have the life we want; the right partner, the right job, the right XXX.

As oft stated in this book, ours is a practical application; we’re just foot soldiers.  There is no pretense about the inner workings of the human psyche or empirical data researched and baked in academia.   


Life is either a daring venture or nothing.  Security does not exist in nature, nor do the children of men as a whole experience it.  Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than exposure.

– Helen Keller