How do you know when the justifications your making for an inaction are an actual reason for the inaction or an excuse you made up to protect yourself from being uncomfortable or not facing your fear. When the reasons your giving yourself for not taking action are merely excuses cleverly designed to keep you in your box of comfort. The only way to truly know when you're not using excuses is by examining the actions you take.
The actions you take are the only thing that truly defines what your intentions are. Actions don't lie. When your actions are incongruent with your purpose then what ever reason you give yourself for the incongruency is an excuse. If you 'wanted' to do something and you didn't do it, its because deep down you really didn't want to do it. The example that stands out to me in my life is hockey.
First I think most people can acquire the skills and talent to become great at something given they truly, deep down enjoy the thing there doing and they go about practicing it in the right way. These things were more so learned than born with so they can be taught. I think the child must find out what he truly enjoys from a young age when my neuroplasticity is high. When you're young there's a period of time when your neurons are forming rapidly and it becomes easier to learn a skill. That's why its easy for young kids to learn multiple languages. Its why you see some amazing child piano or drum players. In my case i spent a lot of time playing with a hockey stick and ball when i was young. I spent a lot of time on the ice. I loved the game. each opportunity I had I would fill with hockey, i tried to get my parents to build a rink in the back yard. I went to the local outdoor rink in the winter and played till i couldn't feel my feet anymore and id return to the warming hut, take my skates off and start crying because the pain from the frost bite on my toes. I spend hours putting holes in my garage with hockey pucks. That gave me the skills to score goals. I was ahead of my time at that age. Since i scored goals when i was young it turned me into a goal scorer. Since i was a goal score i got more ice time and played with more competitive players lending me even more experience. Some people can skate great, stick handle good and shoot good but for some reason they aren't goal scores. They choke given the opportunity at the net. They have the habit of hitting the goalie. Others, the goal scores, don't seem to miss. If they get in front of the net the puck is going in. Without even looking they will find an open spot. The open net becomes a feeling. They can sense where it is. sense what they need to do to get the goalie to react. I believe the mind pattern or my thought habits is one of the reasons i got good at scoring goals. After each game i would have fun going over in my head first all the goals i scored. usually a couple times. I could remember each goal, what it felt like, and its exact path into the net. Then id look back at all the opportunities. All the places where i felt like i should have scored. I looked at the reason the puck didn't go in and how i could score in a future scenario. I didn't realize it at the time but this habit of mentally rehearsing the successes and how to succeed the next time was a habit that turned me into a goal scorer. Now maybe being born with a mind that naturally went over these things is what enabled me to get good but i feel like its a skill that can be taught once you find something your child really enjoys doing.
So, say I wanted to become a professional hockey player. Given that I had the skills/talent. The reason I didn't become a professional hockey player is because deep down I didn't really want to. As i look back i can see a lot of truth in this. I used to have 60 goal seasons when i was little when the person with the second most goals was in the low 20's. This got me a lot of attention. I started to dream about being a pro and being on TV. I idolized players like Wayne Gretzky and Mario Lemieux. Then i saw them in interviews. I saw them in front of millions of people, put on the spot, every word analyzed and critiqued and it terrified me. I didn't think I could ever speak in front of that many people. What would I say? I didn't feel interesting enough. I felt like I couldn't speak well. I didn't know the answer to the questions I would be asked. Looking back. Deep down i feared that kind of pressure so much it made me subconsciously avoid the situation all together. I sabotaged the big breaks I could take so I never had to face that kind of pressure. I steered clear of my deep down fear. I see it big and small in a lot of places in my life. I used to avoid uncomfortable situations like the a bear avoids the winter. It kept me safe. Kept me comfortable. I got very good at it. That's one of the biggest changes that has helped me grow as a person recently. I've started recognizing when I think I'm going to feel uncomfortable and make sure I do what ever I can to put myself in that very situation. I've realized that it was all in my head. Gradually I have less and less things I feel like avoiding. My comfort zone has increased exponentially. Which in turn translated to extremely elevated levels of self confidence and increased self esteem. which opens up an amazing amount of new opportunities. I feel more empowered. I start to see that anything the world throws at me I can conquer. Any obstacle in my way I can climb. Each new thing is nothing but practice. Something to learn from. I begin to welcome uncomfortable experiences as a way to grow, a way to expand my comfort zone and get that much closer to true core confidence.