Busting Our 'Buts'

by Donna R. Carter

When thinking about what you want to do, and what you are capable of doing, does your inner voice whine with all the reasons why you can’t?

“But… You don’t understand…”

We all learned how to whine at a very early age. Just think about the numerous toddler temper tantrums you’ve no doubt encountered at one time or another in the checkout lane at the grocery store!

Older kids whine about homework. Or having to do chores and take on additional responsibilities around the house. “Do I have to??? and they’re always so good at finding something else to do – some “valid” excuse – to avoid what needs to be done.

Whining extends into adulthood when we complain about all the things we don’t like about our jobs, our home situation, where we live. We bemoan our fates. Why can’t we do what we want to do, or be what we want to be, or live where we want to live? 

Well? Why can’t we?  I’m sure we can all come up with some classic excuses.


“But…  I have health issues… It’s unrealistic. It’s too hard. Too ‘pie in the sky’.”


            Nick was born with no arms and no legs – just a little flipper-like foot at the base of his torso – and yet he is a motivational speaker! He chose not to live dictated to and intimidated by his disabilities.  He chose to use those very disabilities to make his life work, and to enhance the lives of others.

Cancer had emaciated Judi, in her mid-fifties. Even a slight cough was sufficient to break a rib and cause desperate pain. She was dying. And yet she didn’t let that stop her from taking her little toddler granddaughter to Disney World, or dancing for her as she played piano in their living room. She chose to get past cancer’s obstacles with love and unselfishness, leaving a legacy of incredibly positive inspirational memories behind when her body did, finally, succumb to her illness. She is not remembered for giving in, or for being sick. She is remembered for what she overcame despite the odds.


            Joni was your normal, active, athletic teenage girl when she had a diving accident that made her a quadriplegic. Though she struggled desperately and suffered through some deep depression, she learned how to make do with what she had.  She became an author, and an artist – holding her pen, drawing or painting implements in her mouth and directing them with her tongue.


            Forbes magazine tells us that almost two-thirds of the world’s 946 billionaires made their fortunes from scratch, relying on grit and determination, and not good genes.  So what makes some people thrive while others wallow seemingly helplessly in the mire? Why do some people seem to have caught the proverbial brass ring, while others have to get off the ride and go back to the end of the line again?

It’s a matter of mind set. It’s all in the attitude.  Do you really want to succeed in being the best you can be? 

I’m sure it would have been simpler for Nick to stay behind the scenes and never venture out. He had to face the very real possibility of ridicule and rejection, and the potential for failure at every turn. Judi could have much more easily allowed herself to be overwhelmed by the pain of her cancer and shut herself off from the world. Joni could have capitulated to the temptation of sinking into and dying of self pity.


“But… I’m too old. I’m not pretty enough. I don’t have the right background. Life isn’t fair: Why set myself up for disappointment?  I’m not good enough.”

In early April, the internet was all abuzz with Susan, who was never before really given the chance to let her voice shine. People thought she was ‘too old…’ ‘too frumpy…’ She sounded ‘too  backwoods’ when she talked. She lacked social skills. Surely she had nothing to offer?  Susan  didn’t let the judgment of others redirect her. She boldly stepped into the spotlight and let her light shine: Her beautiful voice reduced the world to tears. She just relentlessly followed her dream. Because of that choice, Susan is now not only seeing that dream fulfilled, she’s inspired millions of people, and taught millions more that one should never, ever judge a book by its cover.


“But…  It’s all who you know. I’m not in the right circles… “

Who you know may know someone who knows someone else. It has been said that everyone in the world is separated by only six people.  Who you know is good – and you can always get to know more people. If you just sit at home and whine about it, how are you going to meet anyone at all?

But it’s more than who you know. It’s who you are. It’s about what you do with who you are. It’s about being true to yourself.  It’s about finding your passion and letting yourself burn with the fuel it gives you. If you’re on fire – if you’re passionate – you’ll gather a crowd, and in that crowd, or the next… or the one after that… there will be someone in that circle you want to be in who will catch that fire, and the connection will be made.

But… I don’t have TIME...

Time is never on your side. Every moment you don’t move forward in your lives, is a moment wasted.  Every whine is a misused opportunity that you can never get back.


            Evan was so bogged down with the responsibilities he felt he had to fulfill -just to get by-  that he escaped, for emotional and stress relief, by playing computer games. At any given time during the day, he could be found at his desk, playing computer games. If it was brought to his attention, however, he justified it.


                        “But… THAT is my only means of having fun!…” 

Wait a second. What? How much time would Evan have to actively pursue his dream [ie. Have Fun], if he didn’t procrastinate?  How focused are you on doing your best? If you really want to accomplish something, why are you putting it off? It takes effort!

What do you do from the moment you get up, to the moment you go to bed. Is how you are using your time improving your life, and enhancing and uplifting the lives of those around you? Or do you find yourself dreading the mountains of things you have to do, and then wasting time, in order to avoid doing the very things that are taking up “so much of your time”?


            Evan was King of his own Whinedom. He was in familiar territory, and he firmly believed in the idiom “Better the devil you know than the devil you don’t.”

Until he would choose to step outside his comfort zone and make some changes in his perspective and priorities, he would never see the rest of the world – or the potential he had in it – through anything but the distortion of his whine-colored glasses.

Have you ever noticed that the most successful people you know seem to be extraordinarily busy, and yet still manage to have time for interacting with friends and reading, and leisure activities? Have you ever wondered how on earth they could possibly have a moment to spare with their plate so full? But they do. They have learned to prioritize their time. They have put their work and leisure time into a symbiotic relationship where each feeds their ability to do the other even better.


“But … What will people think of me while I’m trying to accomplish this? People who are important to me are unsupportive, unenthusiastic or downright discouraging the process!”

A myriad of reasons cause people not to be supportive of change.  It could be that they’re suffering the same doubts about their own potential that you have had about yours, but they aren’t to the point of making a break from the negativity and pushing forward in their own lives. They may fear the changes you are making in your own life will require things of them that they are not willing or able to provide. It’s time for you to surge ahead and let your focus and tenacity be the example for them. You may have previously created a pattern of starting and quitting, that has left them having to pick up the pieces one too many times.  This time the pressure is on you to prove that you mean it. 

Find and surround yourself with people who are supportive. This doesn’t mean you abandon those you love and those who love you. It merely means you stand on your own two feet, rather than relying on them to provide what you need.  Find a way to get your own needs met, in order that you don’t drain their already-depleted resources.  As you proceed forward, they will observe the shift in focus and see the improvement in your attitude and the positive changes in your life and your attitude. In the long run, showing them your determination, you will more than likely not only gain their support, but their respect as well.


“But … What if I can’t actually do it after all? What about all those things I am afraid of doing that I would have to do to get there?”

We fear getting a chance at total success and failing. It’s easier to be good at average and knowing we can be better, than trying hard and failing miserably at something we always felt we wanted and could do.

We fear not being good enough to do it… or doing it wrong, even when given all the tools – because at that point, what do we go back to? What we used to do? We weren’t happy with it before, why would we be happy with it now? We have to figure out what we’ve learned in the process of getting to where we got, and either find a new passion, or reroute the passion we’ve been following.


            Eunice Kennedy Shriver traveled the U.S. in the late 50s and 60s, visiting institutions for children with intellectual disabilities. Having grown up with sports being an integral part of her life, she was disturbed to note that children with intellectual disabilities were being left out of athletics in school. They were not even being allowed to attend summer camps. She took it upon herself – in her own back yard – to open up a summer camp for children with intellectual disabilities. That first summer, in 1958, there were 75 children who attended the camp. One camp grew to five in and then by 1968 five had turned into 40 across the country.  Her passion for the cause didn’t waiver and those forty camps became the nucleus of the Special Olympics. By following her passion -by not giving up- she changed the lives of more people than she probably will ever know.

Many people are afraid they’ve set their sites too high. Afraid that once they reach their potential, they will realize they weren’t capable of being as good as they wanted to be. But you can’t be so focused on the process that you lose sight of what’s going on within the process. Find people with the skills you wish to acquire. Ask questions! Admire their work! Study what they did to get where they got, and apply those skills and attributes to yourself and what you are attempting to do.


But… The beliefs I was raised with conflict with what I feel I would have to do in order to become who I believe I am, and I feel guilty with every step I try to take! I just know I will disappoint those I love, if I follow through. They won’t like the results, because it will be in direct opposition to their beliefs.”

In the long run, are you truly willing to be false to yourself, in order to please others?  When it comes right down to it, then, are they not loving a lie?  Well-known author, Hugh Prather put it well when he said “Some people are going to like me and some people aren’t, so I might as well be me.  Then, at least, I will know that the people who like me, like me.”

  You cannot be true to yourself, if you are lying to others about who you are. If you are true to yourself and others cannot handle it, you must realize, lovingly, that their inability to accept you is their problem, and not yours. If you can help them handle it, then that’s great – but being untruthful is only feeding their fantasy about who they’d like you to be, and it doesn’t allow them to learn to grow and love and accept what may not be what they want, but is who you are.


But… Their problem is my problem if I created it.

On the other hand, you may find that, in being true to yourself, others will come to accept and love you even more. There may be those who cannot get past the disappointment, but as long as you are willing to be loving and accept where they are coming from (even if you don’t choose to change for them) their choice to let it become a rift between you will be their choice. You need not let it be yours, or drag you down.  At least you know you are being truthful, and they know who you are, and you will know, if and when they choose to accept you, that they are accepting the real you.


                        “But… That hurts, if they reject me, because I love them.

If you keep yourself wrapped up “safely” in a cocoon of untruths, are you really benefitting anyone, including yourself? If these people reject you for being who you are, at least you will know the truth from them as well. Far better a painful truth, than a positive lie. You are then, at least, dealing with reality. Someone once told me, “There is no growth without risk, or pain.” 

Some of our excuses feel very legitimate, but does that mean we cannot figure out a way around the obstacle?  Everywhere we look, if we’re willing to look, there are people in the world who have overcome every obstacle we can put forth in our excuses as to why we cannot do what we are potentially capable of.  But they did it…

Do we really want to achieve these things we complain that we are unable to achieve for whatever reason? Or are we lying to ourselves? If we gave it any serious thought, and we truly wanted to achieve our goals, we could just as readily argue against our very own excuses. 

So, let’s be honest. Let’s take it that step further: What is really stopping us? Only ourselves.

Now that we’re past that acknowledgment, we have two options: Accept where we are, that we’ve chosen to be there, and stop whining and wishing, or Figure Out how to make the necessary changes in ourselves to become who we are capable of being and who we want to be. If we can’t figure it out, we need to find someone who can help us figure it out, so we can move forward.

   If we want ‘whiner’s rights,’ maybe we need to be putting forth our best efforts to get where we want to be.  But if we’re doing that … we won’t really have time to whine. We’ll be too busy finding solutions to the excuses. We will be too busy figuring out what we have to do to destroy, or at least diminish the obstacles – the excuses – that we have put in our own paths, so that we can continue to move forward.  We’ll be too busy getting there.

We have to admit how many of our excuses are our own walls (and then we must figure out why we are putting up those walls to prevent our own success!)

How strange, that we fight so hard to stay mediocre. What does mediocrity give us? We gain nothing from it.  It only makes us feel depressed and without hope. We are not content with who we are, but we resist change. We whine because it’s difficult, and because we have to use self discipline, and it will take a bit of effort to improve our lives. 

All change – Even good change, can be difficult and takes effort. Something you were once familiar with is being left behind for something new, and different, and unfamiliar. 

Becoming who you are capable of being is a lot more important than being comfortable with being average. Because… you’re not really comfortable with being average.  That you are comfortable with it, is part of  the lie.  Don’t accept that lie anymore. Expand your horizons, and step outside that comfort zone.  Burst the toxic bubble of mediocrity and untruth.

Don’t wait until Monday, or the first of next month. Do it now! Every day is a fresh start. Every moment is a brand new chance to be doing something positive! That means you have 60 opportunities this hour – 1,440 opportunities today — 10,080 opportunities this week – 43,680 opportunities this month – and 524,160 opportunities this year. WOW! What a lot of chances! Don’t waste a moment of opportunity to make the most of your time! Spend it doing your best! All that time, is time to become who you are meant to be!


Time to get off your ‘But’!

The founder and president of Diamond Cutters International, is one of the world’s top diamond experts, as well as a three-time Guinness Book record holder in jewelry design.
Fred The Diamond Guy
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