“Excuses are the tools with which persons with no purpose in view build for themselves great monuments of nothing” ––Steven Grayhm
Tonight I heard a new song, and my first impulse was to throw out my yoga mat and move. I have two little ones now (and another on the way!), and I believe this internal urge to move with music is hardwired into humans. Some of us adults sadly have learned to squash it. Tragic indeed. So there I was, lying on my bed, and I hear Chris Stapleton’s “Tennessee Whiskey” for the first time. I immediately get the itch to vinyasa. Then, my mind gets involved and goes, “Weird. Country music isn’t for doing yoga, and I’m just too wiped out to move.” However, I caught my sneaky little mind making excuses and I followed my initial impulse. Once again, I’m amazed at how 15 minutes of mindful movement alters my state of mind and my physical wellbeing. My mind is clear and peaceful. My legs feel lighter. My breath comes easily. My back isn’t so achy. Letting go of all that stagnant tired energy and intentionally inviting in something new is so refreshing, like hitting a re-start button. I know these benefits well and yet, I resisted.
Why do we resist change? Even momentary or incremental change, like doing a few minutes of yoga when you’d rather stay in bed. I’m talking about good and life-giving change. Like caring for your body. Getting off your bum, putting on your shoes, and going for a brisk walk. Meal planning so you eat the best, freshest food. Carving out quiet time to refresh your spirit or honor the presence of God. Developing daily habits that improve your quality of life. There’s no question these things are good.
Maybe I resist change because I’m a stubborn little donkey. Maybe it’s because change requires growth, and growth is often painful on some level. Perhaps it’s because needing a change signals that what I am currently doing could be better, and I like the comforting idea that I am doing just fine, thank you very much. Here’s the biggest reason for me: Change means I have to humble myself and let go of my excuses. My excuse not to do a little yoga was a tiny example of something that I see in other areas of my life. I like my excuses. And I have two beautiful, energetic little people (and one on the way!) who make really good excuses for all sorts of things, from not exercising to not making time for date night. Its a lose-lose for everyone because if I trick myself into thinking this busy stage of motherhood is the reason I can’t _________ , then I will on some level resent the kids, which affects the way I parent. But mostly I lose for the obvious reason that if I don’t face my own excuses I will not grow.
I feel this inner resistance pop up whenever life asks me to shape-shift and take on new responsibilities and roles. Becoming a parent was a big change, and growing into a better parent requires many small changes every day. Going from one child to two required a new version of myself, a change I resisted. In my resistance, I stopped caring for my physical wellbeing the way I needed to and slipped into some classic mom martyrdom. Because, you know, no one besides me can care for the children properly. They need me every minute. So not true. Just excuses.
Lately I’ve been working on self-awareness in this area. I have come to a place where I am willing to tell myself a new story. I’m tired of that old tired one. I want to show my kids a mom who cares for herself. Her physical health, her God-given passions, and ALL of her relationships. I want to show my kids a mom who joyfully lives her best life. While there are some things I am putting on hold for this season of life, I want them to know what I am passionate about, what makes my body buzz and my heart feel full. Life has many unique seasons; I am committed to the challenge of growing and finding joy in each of them. I have found that I’m not able to do this while holding onto my excuses.
I resist taking photos of myself doing yoga, because it’s “like, so cliche” but that’s an excuse too! I love seeing other people on their practice path, doing their best. It’s something I miss about teaching. I resist sharing my love for movement and yoga with others because it requires me to put away my excuses and extend myself. Yes, today my practice looks different than it did before kids, when I’m not pregnant, and when I had more free time. But I still feel passionate about the vital importance of intentional movement and caring for one’s body, and I want to share that with others. So here’s my encouragement/exhortation to you: Have a good chat with yourself or maybe your spouse (if they use kind words), and examine the ways you use excuses to not live your best life. Step out of your comfort zone and become aware of the stories you tell yourself.
As you bravely face your excuses, remember to give yourself grace. We’re all a work in progress.