Right now, in this very moment, I can think of a thousand excuses why I should skip blogging tonight to just ‘chill’. It’s not that ‘chilling’ is bad. In fact, it’s highly necessary for me to relax, unplug and stop doing. Except that sometimes the urge to rest is misconstrued with procrastination and avoidance of things that would actually give me more energy, more clarity, more joy, more sense of peace.
Lately I’m finding that I make a lot of tiny excuses to get out of things that usually fill my cup. I say I’m tired, I’ve got to clean the house, I need to veg (AKA watch Law and Order – my go-to show for mindless TV), it’s late, the list goes on and on. You might be familiar with this type of self-talk, it can be quite sneaky and quite pervasive. When this happens for a while it’s time to stop and listen. What’s the deal? What am I avoiding?
So tonight I decided to listen to the voice behind the excuse voice. I’m just as tired and busy as usual, and the list of chores is no shorter than the day before. So, what is the difference? Tonight I decided to stop being afraid.
Those tiny excuses, sometimes they are masking fear. And sometimes it’s not fear of failure they mask, but fear of success. Yes, success. Isn’t that crazy? I know, but it’s true.
Why on earth would I be afraid of my own success, even in small areas like a blog post or doing something meaningful with my evening that would enrich me, like work on a creative project.
I’m afraid because every success I have means I’ve somewhat redefined who I am. I’ve expanded my horizons just a little bit and I’ve grown somewhat. Who knows where that will take me, or how I might see the world differently as I evolve? Believe it or not, there is a small bit of risk in every step along the way of growth.
One of my favorite teachers, Carolyn Myss, says that in each of us is the archetype of the saboteur (among others). That saboteur is the part of us that finds lots of reasons for us to disconnect from our true selves, our joy, our health, our inspiration. She’s a sneaky one too. She can show up looking totally legitimate. For instance, it can seem to me like mopping the floor instead of spending 15 minutes before bed having quiet time can really appear like the right thing to do. I mean, what kind of mother goes to bed at night knowing her son might step on yesterday’s crumbs with his precious little feet in the morning? How dare I set aside duty for something so frivolous as caring for my own mind and body? Yep, that is usually how my saboteur talks to me. I have to admit, sometimes my saboteur even sounds a lot like my own mother (sorry mom!).
Do you know how your saboteur talks to you? What does she say to trick you into thinking that doing those things that are known to make you feel good about yourself inside and out are not worth doing? Is she sneaky like mine?
I’m learning to be gentle with myself when I discover I’ve been in a pattern of excuses. It does me no good to berate myself for what I didn’t do yesterday, and it usual stifles me from being able to explore what is possible right now. I can only learn how to listen more deeply and more intently to my inner voice and observe my patterns to see what is going on. When I do this without judgement, suddenly I’m free to explore and trust the expansion of myself that results from taking the action I was making excuses to avoid.
Tonight alone, for example, I took a big action step on a home project I’d been avoiding (why: because deep down I’m uncomfortable with the notion of creating a special place in our home that enriches my soul; it feel so decadent) and I wrote this post. I haven’t written in a while. I can say that it’s because I’ve busy and life has been stressful, but those two things are just my perception, thanks to my saboteur. I’ve been making excuses because I’m still figuring out what direction this blog is going, and God forbid every post isn’t Pulitzer prize material. Haha, I laugh out loud reading my own silly excuses.
I nudge you to think of that one thing you’ve been wanting to do for yourself that makes you feel really, really good, but you avoid. Write down all the excuses you make, but also write down what it would mean if you actually did those things. What is your saboteur tricking you into believing and when will you stop giving her all the power?