Internationally renowned author and speaker Wayne Dyer, Ph.D., has devoted his life to helping others become healthier and happier. He is the author of more than 30 books and producer of the motion picture, The Shift. His newest book, Excuses Begone! How to Change Lifelong, Self-Defeating Thinking Habits, was inspired by the ancient teachings of the Tao Te Ching.
Mahoney: What common excuses do people use in grappling with their conscience?
Dyer: Excuses are the explanations we use for hanging on to behaviors we don’t like about ourselves; they are self-defeating behaviors we don’t know how to change. InExcuses Begone! I review 18 of the most common excuses people use, such as “I’m too busy, too old, too fat, too scared or it’s going to take too long or be too difficult.”
We spend a big hunk of our lifetimes contemplating what we can’t have, what we don’t want and what’s missing in our lives. What we have to learn is to put our attention and focus on contemplating what it is we would like to attract, and not on what is missing.
Mahoney: You talk about mind viruses. What are these?
Dyer: A virus has three purposes: to duplicate, to infiltrate and to spread from one host to the next. Ultimately, even a single virus can shut down an entire system.
A mind virus is different in that there is no form to it; these are ideas placed in our heads when we are little. We get programmed by well-meaning people like our parents and their parents, our culture, religions and schools. We get conditioned to believe in our limitations and what’s not possible.
After a while, we start really believing these things are true. People who have had self-defeating behaviors for a long time, such as people who have been overweight since they were children or people with longtime addictions, actually believe there is no other alternative.
Mahoney: What’s the payoff for living a life filled with excuses?
Dyer: There’s a payoff for everyone. The reason we hang on to self-defeating behaviors is because it’s easier not to take responsibility. If you’re blaming something or someone else for the way you are, then that person, those people, those circumstances or those energies, are going to have to change in order for you to get better; that’s most likely never going to happen. It’s also a way to manipulate other people.
Usually, making excuses is just something we can get away with, rather than challenging or changing ourselves. If you want to change and you want your life to work at a level you’ve never had before, then take responsibility for it.
I’m not saying that a child who was abused or beaten or abandoned made that happen, but your reaction to it is always yours. While you were four, you didn’t know anything other than being terrified and scared; you’re not four any longer. Now [as an adult] you have to make a choice and recognize that even the abuse that came into your life offers you an opportunity to transcend it, to become a better person and even more significantly, to help someone else not go through what you did.
Mahoney: What is your seven-question paradigm to help people change long-established habits of negative thinking?
Dyer: The paradigm helps a person identify the thought system, which is almost always false, that is behind the rationale for the continuation of excuses. It helps them really look at excuses from an objective point of view and realize that everything they’ve been thinking is just as likely to be not true as it is to be true.
I believe if you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.
Mahoney: When we look at our own lives and think about the lives of loved ones, what is key to living a healthy, happy, love-based life?
Dyer: The key is to trust in your own divinity, to know that you are a piece of God, and that you are like what you came from. As a spiritual being, you have Divinity within. When Albert Einstein was asked about the impact of quantum physics, he said, “It’s just all details, I just want to think like God thinks.” And God thinks in terms of creating, kindness, beauty and goodness.
Ellen Mahoney is a freelance writer who teaches writing at the University of Colorado, Boulder. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Reprinted with permission