Learning to Be Satisfied with Our Reasons

Sean Baumstark avatar

by Sean Baumstark |

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I met up with my best friend for lunch last week, and he noticed I was in a bit of a funk. I could feel I was a little off myself, but I couldn’t put my finger on the root of my disconnect. As my friend and I dug a little deeper in our conversation, some of the layers of my self-perception were peeled back bit by bit.

In addition to that get-together over lunch, I shared a text exchange with my dear friend, fellow FA’er, and Friedreich’s Ataxia News columnist Matt Lafleur, who writes Little Victories. Perhaps unbeknownst to him, that conversation pushed me into further self-reflection.

In a recent post titled “It Starts with Responsibility,” I discussed the value and importance of personal accountability, or responsibility, when exploring what lies at the core of either an excuse or a reason. Ultimately, an excuse is easy to identify because the placement of blame is on someone or something else.

Consider the statements “I’m failing this class because the teacher is unreasonable” and “I never get promoted because they don’t like me.” Both place blame on an external element. I’d argue that these are excuses because the individual is ignoring his or her own role in the process.

When we do hold ourselves accountable for our own contribution, it can be difficult to face the truth, or even worse, to accept it. Sure, in many cases, we can quickly identify a lazy mindset (i.e. my mindset on church attendance) or a bad habit and make some changes toward improvement.

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The tougher challenge is when we face an outcome we don’t like and our self-assessment reveals that, to a degree, the particular circumstances we are up against are out of our control. To help clarify, Friedreich’s ataxia will put me in a wheelchair someday. When I can’t safely utilize the StairMaster during my exercise routine, will I accept my avoidance of it as a reason to be safe and not break bones? Or will I identify it as an excuse to skip the hard things and take an easier approach to exercise?

To reiterate the message of the above-mentioned post, we are the only ones who can determine whether we are employing excuses or leaning into valid reasons for our choices. In any given circumstance, we have to be OK with the things that are out of our control. In addition, we have to be OK with leaning into our reasons when our own abilities or safety are in question.

I shouldn’t feel bad because a StairMaster is dangerous for me, and I shouldn’t feel bad when I have to explore special accommodations in order to successfully pass a college course. I’m certainly not a psychologist, so my perspective may be simplistic. However, at the very least, I know that comparing myself to others is unhealthy.

We should take our personal mission, ambitions, safety, and well-being into serious consideration when choosing to make adjustments in our lives because of the ever-changing conditions of our health. Even if we dislike the change, we shouldn’t feel bad or ashamed, especially when we’re doing what we believe to be the best and right thing for us.

Since I’m not the professional, I’ll lean on Brené Brown’s words here, from the book “The Gifts of Imperfection“: “Let go of who you think you are supposed to be and be who you are.” 

My funk during lunch last week was mostly due to my own pursuit of who I thought I was supposed to be and what I thought others would think of my reasons for some of my decisions. I let myself feel ashamed because I wasn’t recognizing who I am and what value I have to offer.

Be OK with your reasons. Be OK with who you are.


Friedreich’s Ataxia News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website.


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