Sifu Lorna Hayward, Waterloo Kung-Fu Academy

By Sifu Lorna Hayward

Guest Column

Everyone has reasons for doing—or not doing—things. But what is the difference between reasons and excuses, really? At the most basic, reasons are just excuses that have some validity or are somehow more acceptable. Having a broken leg is a very valid reason for not running a marathon. No one can argue that. Yet there are amputees that are able to successfully complete incredible physical feats.

There are two sides to this coin. On one side, your ‘reasons’ that are holding you back may just be excuses that you have accepted, and they have become limitations that you have put on yourself. We should periodically ask ourselves if our limits still apply. Sometimes, our reasons become invalid, but if we haven’t looked at them, we are accepting limitations that don’t need to hold us back anymore. When you started kung fu, maybe you couldn’t do a single push-up. If you accept the limit of ‘I don’t have upper body strength’, you will never be able to do push-ups. But if you continue to challenge that, you may find that you can do one push-up. Then two. And before you know it, if you continue to challenge the ‘I can’t’, you may be doing all your push-ups. This applies to other limits in your life also. Many people have a fear of public speaking. If you forever say that you can’t do it, you won’t. But if you challenge that, you may find you are able to lead a warmup at kung fu. Perhaps you could ask yourself if ‘can’t’ can be replaced by ‘won’t’ and then decide if maybe you can try to test your own boundaries.

However, there is also the opposite side of this, and this side of the coin involves judging other peoples’ reasons. Something, that to you sounds like a lame excuse, could be an extremely valid reason for someone else. If you are easily able to develop strength, you may think someone who has difficulty with push-ups isn’t trying hard enough, but you may not know that that person has an unhealed injury they are working through. If you are an outgoing, extraverted person, you may always think someone with social anxiety is weak. Be careful not to judge other people on their reasons for doing things, and try not to be too quick to say ‘that’s just an excuse’. Sometimes we are very quick to look at others, and because we don’t understand where they are coming from, we decide that their reason is invalid.

Always try to question your limitations to see if they are still necessary in your life, or if perhaps they can be modified as you grow. But please don’t question other peoples’ reasons and negate their validity, simply because they don’t apply to you. We all have our own path that we have walked to get where we are, and, with patience and support, we can continue to grow and make this journey together.