22 Excuses That Are Holding You Back & How to Stop Them

power of words

What beliefs we hold and what we choose to accept usually determines how we perform and how we experience life. Often times we unknowingly form certain disempowering beliefs that turn into excuses which profoundly impacts our growth in a negative way. In this article, we’ll be looking into some of the most common excuses that hold us back from living our best life.

Why It’s Important to Stop Making Excuses?

One of the core emphasis in Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) is on how words can impact, influence, and program our minds. It’s amazing how something as simple as the words and phrases that we generally speak on a daily basis can so profoundly impact our lives.

Considering that, it is safe to say that the excuses that we communicate to ourselves program our mind for failure and misery. This is why it is important that we begin to pay more attention and consciously choose what words and phrases we use to describe our lives.

The 22 excuses, that we’ll get to in a moment, are some of the most commonly used phrases and beliefs we find in society. Having even a couple of them stuck in your mindset can possibly hold you back in life, harm your growth, and negatively impact your overall experience of life.

Make sure you clear yourself off of all of them.

How Do I Stop Making Excuses?

The first step is Awareness. Being aware of which beliefs and circumstances are you using as an excuse and accepting it fully is the first step towards eliminating them from your life. That’s the reason why I’ve compiled this list of excuses many of us commonly make.

The more you are aware of your thoughts and beliefs, the more consciously you can decide to discard any thoughts, beliefs, and excuses that might be holding you back.

The second step is to begin to Act and make life-decisions against all those excuses. Challenge your fears and limitations. You’ll be able to do as you shift your mindset by replacing those disempowering beliefs with empowering ones. We’ll discuss empowering ways to approach things under each and every excuse, so read on.

What are the Consequences of Making Excuses?

To understand the consequences of making excuses a bit deeper, let’s quickly look into how our language (the words, phrases, “excuses”) that we use daily, impacts our mind. (You are welcome to skip this section if you don’t want to go into further detail. Feel free to go the list of excuses and their alternatives below.)

Often when people are told to pay attention to their routine language as it can impact the quality of their lives and impact their thoughts and emotions, they scratch their heads wondering

“Can merely speaking some words really shape our thoughts?”

“How does your language really shape how you think?”

YES! The Language that we use DOES shape our thoughts and emotions. In fact, it’s better to put it this way


Our subconscious mind picks up every tiny detail of our everyday life. Things that might escape our conscious mind might actually be picked up by our unconscious mind. 

Needless to say, our language (words and phrases)  play a HUGE role in impacting and influencing our minds. 

The first and most powerful thing God taught humans was the ability to speak and communicate. 

The Most Compassionate. 
Who taught the Quran. 
He created Humanity. 
(and) Taught them Speech (how to communicate and express themselves).

Surah Rahman [55 : 1-4]

The biggest miracle of the Holy Quran is actually the eloquence of its words and phrases, and how they impact the hearts and minds of people. 

Throughout the history of humanity, the greatest leaders have influenced the world with the use of their language and the precise selection of words and phrases that sparked certain emotions in people. 

Different fields of mind sciences such as Hypnotherapy/Hypnosis and Neuro-Linguistic Programming focus on the precise use of language to influence the mind in certain ways so as to heal people, spark confidence and happiness in them, and help them out of their problems and challenges.

Advertisers and Marketers use certain words and phrases to influence people to buy their products. The words and phrases that we hear and personally use over and over again tend to hypnotize us and program our minds. 

We are mostly in a state of trance in whatever we do, hypnotized by whatever is happening in our lives. The question, however, is whether all these states of trance that we are constantly in and the things we are unconsciously getting hypnotized by in our day to day lives are positive or negative?

If our selection of words is positive and empowering, it will hypnotize and program our minds in a positive and empowering way which will directly impact the quality of life and how we experience it.

If the selection is negative and full of excuses, it will influence our lives according to whatever negative/sad/victimized words that we speak.

22 Commonly Used Excuses That Are Holding You Back

1. All these ideas and advice are great, but my specific situation is very different than other people. These solutions won’t work for me.

Being a life coach, this is one of the common statements I have heard from people who seek advice and help but yet at the same time, aren’t fully open to it. 

It is almost like people only want to hear what they want. Anything that is against their will or pushes them out of their comfort, they seem to reject it saying “this won’t work for me, my situation is different”.

Of course, your situation is different. It’s the same with EVERYONE!

Just like every single human being is different, it’s no surprise that each and every one of us live different lives. Everyone has their own specific stuff going on in their lives. 

But the point to focus on is, there are certain universal laws that work for almost everyone.

At the core of our existence, we are the same and we all came from one source. 

Even though superficially we all seem different, at the base level our lives are composed of certain universal elements that are governed by universal laws that God created.

Ask any experienced therapist, counselor or life coach, they’ll tell you that they keep seeing similar patterns in thousands of people they have helped.

2. All these self-improvement stuff seem good in theory but practical life is different.

This is another statement people use as an excuse to NOT change, to not take charge and responsibility of their lives, and stay in the victimized mindset.

Most of us have developed deep and strong negative beliefs about life and other people and we love to hold onto those beliefs. When anything threatens our beliefs or question their authenticity, we unconsciously tend to reject and dismiss it.

This statement shows exactly that. 

Apart from that, some people tend to be skeptical at first when something new and out-of-the-box is offered to them as advice or an idea. But as they familiarize with that idea and personally experience it, they accept it.

“If you never try, you’ll never know…”

3. I have tried “EVERYTHING” but “NOTHING” works.

This is generalization at its finest. People half-heartedly try a few things here and there, then come to the conclusion that “NOTHING” works.

The question is, have you REALLY tried EVERYTHING in the world? There might be hundreds of options or solutions in the world for a particular problem.


Our world view is confined to whatever knowledge and experience we have accumulated up till now. We all have very limited and biased knowledge and experience unless we are proper experts at something. 

Nobody can say for sure that they know everything or they’ve seen everything in the world. 

When people say “NOTHING WORKS”, their judgment is usually based on their limited knowledge and experience. They might not yet have exposure to many other options that are out there.

“Verily, the only cure for ignorance is to ask questions.”
Muhammad (PBUH)
[Abī Dāwūd 336]

So instead of closing yourself off and coming to such limiting conclusions, have an open mind and keep seeking knowledge in that particular area so that more options become available to you.

4. I wish I had the time to learn all these great things or take initiative towards such amazing ideas but I’m too busy and have too many responsibilities.

Everybody is busy, yet nobody is busy enough. It’s all about Priorities

Do you say that you are “busy” when there is a family emergency or any other urgent thing comes up?” NO? Why? Because that comes high on your priority list. 

Realize that you are living your life according to your priorities. Whatever priority system that you have in your subconscious mind, it shapes your life and your everyday routine. 

When people say that they don’t have time or money to invest in their growth and learning, what they are simply saying is
“My personal growth and the quality of my life isn’t important to me. I’d rather spend my time and money on shopping, on food, with friends and family, or just watching TV series.”

Just remember that if you don’t prioritize your personal growth and your mental & physical health NOW, you will most definitely suffer in the long run.

5. That’s too expensive! I can’t afford it. I am not born with money like other people. My parents weren’t rich.

Again it’s about what priority and value do a particular thing hold for you. 

People would say things like, 

“I can’t afford good quality Life Coaching session” 

“That training program, course or workshop is too expensive”

“I can’t pay 50-60$ for this meditation app”

“You are fortunate to have the money to attend that course, I couldn’t. I am not born in a rich home.”

“Who spends 10-20$ on a book when you can download it online for free!”

Now, these same people would go spend tons of money on family dinners, hanging out with friends and going shopping. 

A 15$ buffet or 50$ embroidery dress would seem cheap to them. But when it comes to investing in personal growth and improving the quality of your life, everything seems “expensive” and they try to find a way to get it “FREE”.

Think smartly and realize what will really add lasting, life-long value to your life.

Even if you really don’t have any money, instead of saying “I can’t afford it”, think creatively and ask yourself “HOW CAN I AFFORD IT?”

There might not be an easy or immediate solution in response to this question, you might have to work extra for some time to save up money, or you might have to sell something or take a loan. But it’s POSSIBLE. 

Personally speaking,

I sold my old car – which was the only conveyance for me and my family – to invest in an important training program that transformed my life in the long run. 

I reduced expenses on clothes and food to a bare minimum to be able to conserve money to invest in my growth. 

It’s not about resources, it’s about Resourcefulness. Realign your priorities…

6. I am born this way, I’m just the way I am, it’s hard to change.

Well, I and you were born without knowing how to walk or speak. If our parents said the same thing for us that “he/she is born this way” then where would we be right now?

We are born ignorant. That doesn’t mean that we remain ignorant. 

We are born with no skill or knowledge about anything, does that mean we never learn?

We are born without any mannerisms and without knowing the difference between good or bad, does that mean we keep living in that state?

The point is, most things are LEARNABLE!

You can learn most of the things people do in this world by putting in the right and consistent effort. Almost any skill can be developed if you are willing to work on it. 

Saying that “I was born this way, I can’t change” is probably a sign of laziness and not willing to come out of comfort zone and avoiding effort. 

There are people in the world who are literally born blind or without limbs, yet with their sheer determination, they learn and educate themselves and become more capable than many physically “normal” human beings.

7. I’m too old for that. It’s too late to start now.

The world is full of examples of people who started late, yet went on to make the most of their lives. 

If you think you are late, don’t waste any more time complaining and procrastinating. 

Start NOW! 

IT’S NEVER TOO LATE TO LEARN. As cliche as it sounds, it’s the best attitude to have.

8. I wish I were that smart or confident.

If you think you aren’t smart or confident, instead of wishing or complaining about it, think curiously about HOW CAN YOU LEARN TO BE SMART AND CONFIDENT?

Smartness and confidence are learnable things.

In fact, we humans are born with only 2 innate fears, fear of falling and fear of loud sounds. All other fears are learned.

We have learned to be fearful and anxious which holds us back from tapping into our inner confidence and using our natural intelligence to be smart.

Confidence and intelligence are within us. We just need to learn to tap into it and practice it over and over again.

Everyone is confident and intelligent in their own ways. When people compare themselves with others is when we fall into the inferiority complex. STOP comparing and embrace your own blessings. 

The world would be boring and chaotic if everyone was the same. God made each of us different for a purpose. Embrace it!

9. What will people think?

Why does it matter what people think? Sometimes we just need to let go of people’s opinions about us and do what’s right. 

Think about what is the worst that will happen? 

If the consequences are severe and can possibly threaten your life, then yes you should take into consideration what those particular people will think about you. 

Otherwise, if the consequences are that people will give you weird stares, or talk behind your back (which mostly is the case 99.9% of the time) then you must free yourself from worrying too much about what people will think. 

10. If just positive thinking would solve people’s problems, everybody would be living a happy life. 

Almost everything associated with humans started with a thought. Thought has a lot of power than we give it credit for. 

It’s unimaginable what a mere thought can do. Anything that we create, is first created within the thought. 

Happiness is created within the mind first, then it gradually materializes. Similarly, misery is created in the mind first, before it actually manifests into our lives. 

That is the reason we see happy and positive people, becoming more and more happy by the day. And we also see complaining, frustrated people, becoming more frustrated and unhappy. Their reasons to complain, increasing with every passing day.

“If you are grateful, I will surely increase you [in blessings]”
Quran [ 14:7 ]

“Allah the Almighty said: I am as My servant thinks (expects) I am”
– Muhammad (PBUH)

This above statement suggests that whatever you think and expect of God, that will manifest into your life.

When you expect God to bring good and positive things into your life, that will manifest. 

If you expect negative things in life, that will manifest as well. 

You make the choice. Your attitude towards life and how you think has a direct impact on the quality of your existence. 

11. Why is this happening to me?

That’s a good question ONLY if you ask it out of “Curiosity”, NOT out of self-pity. 

Instead of thinking from a victim mindset, approach this question positively and think in term of:


If you think you are the only one being put through this situation, ponder over “What special ability or wisdom God wants to teach you that He has chosen you for this circumstance?”

Keep in mind that the cream of the crop, the best people in humanity, went through the most challenges, hurdles, adversities, and difficulties of all sorts that any other people around them. 

Wisdom, maturity, spirituality, and intellectual abilities do not come out of anywhere. One must go through the “training” of life. 

Yes, I like to refer to these life’s challenges and adversities as TRAININGS. 

This “Training” is a special opportunity for you to learn what many people never learn and grow beyond what many people ever could. 

Instead of wasting this opportunity in self-pity, utilize it to build a stronger, better, higher version of yourself.

I too have had my share of difficult times and adversities. Now seeing the bigger picture, I’m glad God made me go through that. I wouldn’t be the person I am today and continue to become if I had not gone through what I went through.

12. He/she is successful because they are LUCKY. Luck plays a major role. I haven’t been that lucky or fortunate enough.

If you are living, breathing, and able to understand what I’m saying, YOU ARE LUCKY ENOUGH!

God has created each one of us with our own unique blessings and He has provided each and every one of us with our own unique opportunities to make use of.

The problem is, many of us compare our blessings and our challenges with others. 

When you STOP focusing on other people’s lives and when you STOP comparing yourselves to them, you begin to see the unique opportunities that God designed and made available just for you.

Having money, big houses, factory businesses, expensive cars, a beautiful spouse, does NOT equal LUCK. 

Many people even after having “everything” in life are still unhappy on the inside. 

NEVER judge people’s happiness on apparent smiles and happy social media photos. 

People are good at hiding their inner self and their problems. Someone who looks happy and laughs out loud might be very frustrated and toxic on the inside. 

In terms of worldly success, when you learn about many of the great people in the world, you’ll learn that most of them started with almost nothing. The reason they are great is that they have faced challenging times and struggles.

I would suggest that you go and search for some motivational/inspiring stories on youtube. 

You’ll find that many people who are now recognized as successful went through more difficulties and challenges than most of us. You would not call them “lucky” if you saw them back in the times when they were severely deprived and struggling. 

Yet now they are in the position that people look up to them. 

Change your mindset and begin to work on yourself. Make a positive, inspirational example out of your life so that 20-30 years from now, when you look back, you’ll be content and fulfilled at how you spent your life.

13. I wish I too was born with an amazing talent so I could be successful like that person.

Some people are born with special talents and some people develop SKILLS.

The world is full of “Talented” people who never work on themselves and utilize their special abilities. 

On the other hand, there are people who are not born with some flashy talent to show off with, yet they strategically put consistent effort to develop “skills”.  

“Strategy will compensate for talent, but talent will never compensate for strategy.”
Marco Pierre White

Natural born talent is not necessary. What’s necessary is how much effort do you put in to develop a particular skill.

Also, keep in mind that often times as I mentioned earlier that we have a pattern of comparing ourselves to other people. 

I too was stuck in this pattern earlier in my life. I used to think of myself having no special talent and ability because I used to compare myself with people who were geniuses in mathematics, commerce, business, computer sciences, etc. I considered myself nill in any of these things. 

Several years ago, one day I gained a very unique perspective and realized I’m naturally talented in empathizing with people because I’ve been through tough times myself. I’m naturally talented in sincerely trying to help people around me. 

Now, these might not be considered as “talents” in the traditional sense, but I chose to focus on my own unique blessings.

Since I sincerely empathize with people, I’m able to come up with ideas and solutions to help them out, and I noticed that people who knew me well, were naturally drawn to take my advice even though they were older in age and were in a better position professionally at that time.

So over the course of several years, I worked on developing myself in this direction professionally. I got into psychology, mind sciences, and life coaching. 

A single insight can bring a shift in your thinking and you begin viewing things in a different light that ultimately changes your life forever. 

14. “SOMEDAY” I’ll change or become successful.

That “someday” never comes. Believe me! 

All you have is TODAY. The only time you have is NOW!

Now, what are you going to do about it? What will you choose to do Today? Will you waste it? Or will you make something out of it?

15. In today’s age, honesty won’t get you anywhere. It’s impossible to get ahead in life without some dirty tricks.

This only shows the lack of exposure and limited thinking of the person saying it. Yes, the system might be corrupt but there still are good, honest people out there who value integrity. 

These are the times when you have to have a deep faith in the law of the universe to be able to stick on to the right path. 

“A time of patience will come to people in which holding onto one’s values will be like holding onto hot coal.”
Muhammad (PBUH)

Stick to the right values and just do the right thing. 

Trust that if you are on the right path, GOD’s HELP WILL COME FOR YOU. 

Many people around us might temporarily get ahead by cheats and unfair tricks, but believe me, Karma will get them at some point in life.

I have seen it over and over again. You reap what you sow. 

I have seen many people getting ahead temporarily through unfair methods. Years later, their wrongdoings came back to bite them in some way, shape, or form. EVERY SINGLE TIME!

On the other hand, there are honest, modest people who stayed away from corruption. At the time, people criticized them for being too honest and “knowing nothing about the world”. 

Yet years down the road, God put happiness, inner peace, and Barakah(blessings) in their lives, and the lives of their children and grandchildren.

Have a long term sight and see the bigger picture. Don’t let the superficial bling of the world fool you into compromising your values.

“Do not be deceived by the prosperity of the wrongdoers throughout the land.”
Quran [3:196]

“O Mankind! Be mindful of your Lord, and beware of a Day when no parent will be of any benefit to their child, nor will a child be of any benefit to their parent. Surely God’s promise is true. So do not let the life of this world deceive you, nor let the Deceiver deceive you about God.”

Quran [31:33]

16. Big goals and optimistic thinking are just a delusion. Life isn’t that easy. Be practical and realistic.

If every person in the world thought in a so-called “Practical” and “Realistic” manner, there would be no progress, creativity, discovery, or any sort of revolution in the world, ever!

I love the quote by George Bernard Shaw that sums this all up and is an excellent reply to this negative statement:

“The ‘reasonable’ man adapts himself to the world. The UNreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore, all progress (of the world) depends on the unreasonable man.

17. I know it all / I have seen it all.

Really? Then you must be the wisest, most knowledgeable and intellectual person that ever existed on this planet … and also the most arrogant one…

In fact, chances are that it might be the total opposite. 

Since such a person who thinks they know everything and have seen everything, probably is not wise enough. 

“The more you know, the more you realize how less you know.”

18. I alone can’t make a difference, others have to change too.

Every great movement in the world started with one person which later grew into a movement or a revolution or an organization/company/institution.

Every single one of us has some influence on the people around us. Use your share of influence to initiate something good. It will grow. Believe me. 

At the very least, taking charge of your own actions will put you in an independent and empowering state of mind, as compared to someone who waits for others (things/people/circumstances) to change first for their own lives to change.

19. He makes me angry / she makes me sad / they make me act this way.

We are responsible for our own selves. When you put blame on someone else for your own misery, you essentially lose power and authority over your life. 

Blaming is one of the most disempowering things people do.

On the flip side, when you take charge of your own state of mind and your life, you make use of the power that is within you since birth, which empowers you to take action towards a positive direction and make life-changing decisions. 

Make it a habit to ask yourself,

“What can I do in this situation to make things better?”

“How can I change my state?”

20. My life is miserable and full of problems.

Life is a test. Everybody faces challenges in some way. 

We have 2 choices at our disposal. 

1)  We can choose to complain, be sad, think and act negatively, which makes things far worse than they originally are.

2) Or we can choose to focus on solutions, instead of crying over problems.

We can choose to focus on our blessings and remain hopeful. 

We can choose to have faith that eventually with the Help and Mercy of God, things are going to get better when I do my part. 

21. If I would’ve done that thing or made that decision, this wouldn’t be happening.

We all are full of mistakes. Mistakes and failures are one of the most important teachers in practical life. 

“Every son of Adam makes mistakes, and the best of those who make mistakes, are those who repent (and reform).” 
Muhammad (PBUH)

We would never learn and gain wisdom if we didn’t make mistakes and errors. 

“Good judgment comes from experience, and experience comes from bad judgment.”
Will Rogers

Learn from your mistakes, take the lesson and move on. Don’t waste your time and energy regretting the past. 

Regret won’t change your life. The only thing that can change your life is to move forward with the lessons and wisdom that you’ve learned and make amends.

22. I am miserable and unhappy in life because of my troubled childhood.

One of the ‘not so positive” by-products of traditional psychology is that people have learned to link their childhood to their adulthood so much that they have gotten themselves into a blaming, victimized mentally. 

Because of this mindset, people feel helpless and remain stuck since obviously there is nothing we can do to change our childhood. 

That is a VERY disempowering mindset.

It is becoming more and more common these days to see people blaming their current misery and lack of success on their upbringing and childhood events. 

Yes, childhood plays a VERY important role in the making of a human. 

But that is something to look forward to when raising a child, not to look back and blame your childhood or your parents or society. 

Instead of getting frustrated and wasting precious time and energy over something you can not control, direct your focus and energy towards things that ARE in your control. 

Don’t waste your life staying stuck and blaming the past. Time goes by quickly and we all have a very limited amount of time on this earth. Make sure you spend it productively and use it to design a life of joy and fulfillment.

You do not have to live with the baggage that was handed off to you. Drop that baggage and make a commitment to reshape yourself, redesigning your life, and reprogramming your mind. 

Final Thoughts

This turned out to be quite an extensive article than I originally intended. I hope you find some good take-aways from this. If you can relate to any of these phrases, make sure you get rid of them immediately and become more conscious about your choice of words and phrases. 

Let me know of any other limiting phrases that you have heard or used down in the comments below. I might add it to this article with your name in the credits 🙂

Talk to you soon!

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