CARLOS VETTORAZZI

Navigating Uncertainty, Conquering Fear, and Finding Purpose

22 August 2023
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Throughout my life journey, I’ve witnessed countless moments where I caught myself making excuses. Whether it was to avoid taking risks, postpone making difficult decisions, or justify my inaction, making excuses was a familiar companion.

After many years, I realized fear, uncertainty, and a lack of purpose were the root causes of most excuses. It was damaging my life and relationships. 

Uncertainty is a natural part of life, particularly when faced with unknown or unpredictable outcomes; of course, I didn’t know that then, so I kept retreating into my comfort zone instead of embracing it as an opportunity for personal growth.

I can relate to using excuses as a shield to avoid uncomfortable feelings and emotions. 

I am intrigued by my instinctive drive to seek psychological safety when confronted with the fear of failure, rejection, or the unknown. 

I often find myself looking for excuses, even when I know they function as a defense mechanism and will interfere negatively with my personal growth and development.

I see it in myself, my children, my students, and my coaching clients. Developing resilience, embracing uncertainty, and seizing opportunities can be challenging. Still, there is a silver lining: an opening for growth, a possibility to face our self-imposed fears and rediscover a renewed sense of purpose.

Let’s explore how making excuses is linked to uncertainty, fear, and lack of purpose. Go through some empowering questions and practical strategies to help you break the shackles of excuse-making and live a more purposeful and meaningful life.

The Evolutionary Significance Of Uncertainty

From an evolutionary perspective, uncertainty has played a crucial role in the survival and adaptation of mortal beings.

Throughout history, our ancestors faced numerous uncertain and unpredictable situations, such as changes in weather patterns, availability of food sources, encounters with predators, or competing with other tribes for resources.

In these hostile and challenging circumstances, uncertainty kept our ancestors alert and responsive, helping them survive.

Uncertainty signaled that they needed to be alert and attentive to their surroundings.

It heightened their senses, allowing them to gather more information and make adequate decisions in uncertain situations.

Those better at navigating uncertainty had a higher chance of survival and passing on their genes to future generations.

However, in today’s modern world, the types of uncertainty we face have changed. Most of us are no longer concerned with immediate physical threats daily. Instead, we experience more abstract delays such as financial insecurity, career choices, social interactions, or personal relationships.

Despite the shift like uncertainty, our brains still respond similarly, activating the stress response.

This evolutionary response to uncertainty can illustrate why many individuals feel discomfort, anxiety, or fear when faced with uncertain situations. 

It’s a natural reaction deeply ingrained in our biology.

The fear of the unknown stems from our ancestors’ survival instincts. Uncertainty carries potential risks that could harm their well-being.

While uncertainty may trigger a stress response, it’s essential to acknowledge that uncertainty has its place in history. 

Evolutionary speaking, uncertainty has been a driving force behind much human progress and innovation.

We can transform uncertainty into certainty by being curious, exploring, and seeking to understand the unknown. 

Embracing uncertainty leads to personal growth, resilience, and adaptation. It allows us to step outside our comfort zones, explore new possibilities, and learn from experiences.

Three common reasons behind most excuses

Uncertainty

Uncertainty can lead to making excuses as a defense mechanism to protect ourselves from potential failure or disappointment. 

When unsure about the outcome or lacking confidence in our abilities, we may make excuses to avoid taking risks or stepping out of our comfort zones. Excuses provide a sense of safety by keeping

Fear

Fear is a common underlying factor behind making excuses. Fear of failure, rejection, judgment, or even success can hinder our progress and prevent us from pursuing our goals and aspirations.
 
Making excuses becomes a way to justify our inaction or lack of effort, shielding us from the potential negative consequences that we fear.

Lack of Purpose

I discovered that a lack of purpose contributed to my excuse-making behavior. 
It is nearly impossible not to make excuses when I lack a clear purpose.

Without a strong sense of purpose, my motivation dwindled. I found myself drifting aimlessly, using excuses to avoid the discomfort I felt.

I realized that my excuse-making behavior directly resulted from a lack of purpose. 
Without a clear purpose, making excuses becomes inevitable, my motivation diminishes, and I drift aimlessly while using excuses to avoid discomfort.

Usually, when I make excuses, I don’t see the value, meaning, or purpose in what I’m doing.
Conversely, I don’t need to motivate myself to overcome obstacles when I feel a strong sense of purpose.

Empowering Questions 

Uncertainty

↳ What specific outcomes or situations make you feel uncertain or unsure?

↳ How does uncertainty affect your readiness to take risks or step out of your comfort zone?

↳ What evidence do you have that supports the idea that making excuses protects you from potential failure or disappointment?

↳ Can you recall embracing uncertainty leading to positive outcomes or personal growth?

Fear

↳ What specific fears do you associate with making excuses?

↳ How has fear hindered your progress or prevented you from pursuing your goals and aspirations?

↳ Have you ever experienced personal growth or success by confronting your fears?

Lack of Purpose

↳ How does a lack of clear purpose or direction impact your motivation and commitment?

↳ How does making excuses for lack of action or effort reflect a lack of purpose?

↳ Have you ever experienced a strong sense of purpose? How did it affect your ability to overcome obstacles and strive?

↳ Can you identify any values or passions that provide a sense of purpose or meaning in your actions?

Overcoming the Habit of Making Excuses

Self-awareness

# Recognize and acknowledge when you are making excuses. 

# Be honest about the underlying fears or uncertainties driving your behavior. 

# You don’t know what you don’t know and can not change what you are unaware of. 

Challenge your beliefs

# Question the validity of your excuses and challenge the assumptions holding you back. 

# Are your excuses based on facts or simply self-imposed limitations?

Set clear goals and priorities

# Define your purpose and set clear, meaningful goals. When you have a clear direction and purpose, it becomes easier to stay focused and motivated, reducing the tendency to make excuses.

Take small steps

# Break down your goals into smaller, manageable steps. 

# Taking small, consistent actions can help build momentum and confidence, reducing the need for excuses.

Embrace failure as a learning opportunity

# Shift your perspective on failure. See it as a valuable learning experience rather than something to be feared. Embracing failure as a natural part of growth can help diminish the fear that drives excuses.

Accountability and support

# Hold yourself accountable, period!

# Get support from a mentor, coach, friend, or loved one to hold you accountable for your actions and commitments.

Actionable Insights

Uncertainty influences our responses, affecting our thinking and physical reactions. Understanding this evolutionary perspective allows us to view uncertainty as a growth opportunity instead of overwhelming discomfort.

Most of our human experience occurs internally.

Overcoming the habit of making excuses takes practice, and perseverance becomes easier when you:

The suggestions and questions in this article are a starting point to help you gradually develop the habit of embracing your ability to respond in an empowering manner to grow and develop a growth mindset.

Recommended Reading 

“Stop Making Excuses & Get Sh*t Done!” by Diamond Hope Evans

This book offers practical strategies to recover lost motivation from burnout, monotony, and other factors.

“No Excuses!: The Power of Self-Discipline” by Brian Tracy

Each of the 21 chapters in this book shows you how to be more disciplined in different aspects of your life, with exercises to help you apply the principles of “no excuses.

“The Principles of Uncertainty” by Maira Kalman

Written by a New York Times columnist, children’s book author, and illustrator, this work explores the concept of uncertainty and its impact on our lives.

“Fear: Essential Wisdom for Getting Through the Storm” by Thich Nhat Hanh

In this book, Thich Nhat Hanh explores the roots of fear and provides simple yet profound steps to calm our souls and find inner peace.

“Man’s Search for Meaning” by Viktor Frankl

This classic book is by far my favorite.

Viktor Frankl explores the search for meaning in life, particularly in the face of adversity. He offers insights into how purpose can help us overcome challenges and excuses.