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No more excuses

Using affirmations to change behavior

By Jackie Rainford Corcoran Explore Big Sky Health Columnist

The new year inspires in many people the hope for self-improvement. While 45 percent of Americans usually make New Year’s resolutions, only 8 percent are successful in achieving them, according to the University of Scranton Journal of Clinical Psychology.

That’s a dismal percentage.

Where do we go wrong? Why don’t we do the things we know are good for us?

Habit and addiction are strong reasons why we fail our resolutions. For example, we might have bad spending habits, or addictions to food, drugs, alcohol or work, or have a long history of troubled relationships.

Changing habits and breaking addictions doesn’t happen through wishful thinking alone. If it did, we would all be a lot richer and healthier and have more love – and less drama – in our lives. We have to learn to change our behavior. In order to do this, it’s important to understand our excuses and create a strategy for reprogramming our brains, and therefore our behavior.

“Excuses Begone!” is a liberating book by Dr. Wayne Dyer, in which he writes that we make excuses because they give us payoffs. The payoffs are:

– Avoidance of the difficulties involved in change

– Safety from going into uncharted territory

– The Easy Way Out because life is challenging and demanding enough without transforming ourselves

– Manipulation by getting others to do the work for us

– Being Right which gives us a psychological reward

– Blame in order to remove the responsibility from ourselves

– Protection that allows us to retreat back into familiar territory

– Escaping the Present Moment by removing ourselves from the here and now, and relapsing into our usual patterns.

Dyer suggests that we can reverse these payoffs and make our long-desired changes stick for good by recognizing our excuses and doggedly using the following affirmations when they come up:

Avoidance: “I have free will and there is nothing I need to avoid. I will refrain from using any excuses to justify my avoidance behavior.”
Safety: “I choose the less-traveled path and resist seeking out familiarity and an illusion of security.”
The Easy Way Out: “I am open to making difficult choices when they happen to be in harmony with my highest good.”
Manipulation: “I am content with myself. I have no need to control or manipulate anyone so that they will think and act as I prefer.”
Being Right: “I release the inclination to make anyone else wrong.”
Blame: “I practice self-responsibility rather than faultfinding and I am willing to forgo the inclination to blame others for anything in my life.”
Protection: “I am a grown-up and I arrived here from nonbeing equipped with everything I need to fulfill my greatness.”
Escaping the Present Moment: “I refuse to use my precious present moments in any way that takes me away from the Divine love from which I originated.”

Which excuses do you use most often? Write them down with the reversing affirmation and place them somewhere you can see them. Be bold. Remind yourself of this new way of thinking often until you have changed your behavior. Read “Excuses Begone!” for further inspiration.

Happy New Year!

Jackie Rainford Corcoran is an IIN Certified Holistic Health Coach, an NASM Certified Personal Trainer, a public speaker and health activist. Contact her at, or find more at

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