One of the most complicated areas to tackle for spring cleaning are excuses and self-imposed limitations because they are so often engaged on a subconscious level. Once our conscious mind recognizes that the excuses and limitations have been engaged, guilt and shame are often triggered, reinforcing the cycle.
Let’s look at four core excuses that hold us back.
“I can’t” is the excuse of limited capacity. My mom used to say to me, “Can’t never could.” Few things in life are truly beyond our capacity. No, we can’t overcome gravity, live forever, stop the world from spinning, or teleport (yet). We probably have some physical or intellectual limitations, too. Yet, given enough desire, we can figure out how to do whatever it is we might initially thought we couldn’t do.
“I don’t know” is the excuse of a lack of knowledge. In a world with internet, everyone has access to more knowledge for free than we could ever use (thank you, Google). And given enough desire and tenacity, we can find people who know that are willing to help or teach us what we need to know.
“I’m not ___ enough” is the excuse of playing small. It is often a self-comparison and self-judgment reflecting a scarcity mentality.
“I don’t have time” is a prioritization excuse. We all have the same 24 hours in a day. However, we often squander time with distractions or activities that are not in our best interest.
Why do we use these excuses?
The fear of failure. It’s easier to play small and stay safe. If we were to take action and fail, we believe something about us is flawed and that is a painful belief.
If we were to show up fully, using our unique gifts and talents, we might disappoint or hurt someone we love who isn’t showing up in a similar manner.
Showing up fully could break our family’s spoken or unspoken rules in order to live authentically causing a withdrawal of love which feels like abandonment.
Breaking the excuses and limitations
When you catch yourself using one of the four excuses, take a pause and a few conscious breaths while curiously exploring what is purpose of that excuse. Be gentle in this exploration. There is likely something tender within you that is in need of healing.
Some things to consider while exploring your excuses and limitations:
- What am I most afraid of?
- What’s the worst that can happen if I show up fully?
- What proof do I have that will happen?
- If the worst that could happens does happen, what additional support do I have to help me?
Notice how you feel when you recognize that you’re using an excuse. Explore what would feel even better both physically and mentally. Then embrace a new story that is free of excuses and self-limitations.
You might find having an accountability partner is useful. Every time you use an excuse, pay them $1. When they see you show up fully, excuse and limitation free, they pay you a $1. Allow it to be a friendly little game.
The more you do a positive action, the less likely you will fall into the old habits of excuses.