Our brains are rather comical creatures. Have you ever noticed how they have a tendency to throw up excuses faster than a juggler’s balls in the final act rather than simply face reality? Have you observed the energy expended as your children come up with one creative reason after another to avoid homework or cleaning their room when simply addressing the task at hand would often be easier? Do you get frustrated with friends or family when they complain about a situation and yet fail to make any changes?
Do you ever notice your own excuses?
We all make them.
You can admit it here.
Sometimes it can be helpful when someone calls us out on them.
(Assuming we’re willing to listen, of course.)
Often others see what we cannot.
But sometimes, you’re on your own. Maybe others do not register your excuses. Or maybe they perceive you as too fragile to tackle them head on or they are too timid themselves. Or perhaps they’re busy creating their own excuses as well.
Regardless, sometimes you have to push your own head down into the metaphorical bucket of cold water. To wake up. To stop the stutter of excuses.
When these excuses get in the way of moving forward, I call them healing hangups. They are beliefs and perceptions that hold us back.
I caught myself in two healing hangups after the divorce and it wasn’t until I addressed them both that I was able to unhook from the pull of the past.
The first hangup I had was the belief that in order to heal, I would have to find understanding. I was so blindsided that I felt a desperate need to understand why my husband could do those things. I needed to to know what drove his actions. I grasped at labels for a time, seeking comprehension in a diagnosis. I read books. I talked to others. I was always searching for elusive “why.”
I now see it as a snipe hunt; there was no label, no information that would really answer the question that my heart cried out for – How can you betray someone you claim to love? How can hold me so closely while planning your escape? How can leave me when you swore you would protect me? There are no answers. No understanding.
No answer that would make it okay.
It was a slow process, that shift from wanting to know why to learning how to find peace in spite of. Part of it was creating my own understanding without worry for its veracity.Some of it was realizing that if I could understand why he did what he did, it would mean that I was capable of the same. And part of it was realizing that I was using that as an excuse to delay healing -
“I’ll be okay once I understand why.”
But if I held on to that excuse, I would never be okay. And, at some point, I realized that it was more important for me to be okay than to understand.
Of course, excuses rarely travel alone; they bring plenty of backup. In my case, my other healing hangup was my need for him to face consequences. Now, sometimes those were elaborate schemes dreamt up in my raging mind (how does circumcision by paper cut sound?), but most of them were a need to simply face the natural and legal consequences of his actions.
I held tightly to those excuses. I intentionally delayed trying to address the anger until after his court date for the bigamy had arrived. I was so sure that I would feel relief once he had to face the consequences – feel the blowback of his choices.
Unfortunately, that consequence proved to be a dud.
No problem. I had another excuse ready. I’ll be able to release the anger once he faces me in civil court for the divorce.
Uh, yeah. Another dud.
So, there I was. Court dates over and he escaped with only the most minor of scratches.
Again, I had a choice. I could continue to let it be an excuse holding me back or I could choose to let it go. I’ll let the title of this post let you know the selection I opted for: Why Criminal Pursuit is a Game I Refuse to Play.
There were no consequences that would make it okay.
Those choices were not easy. Taming excuses is like playing Whack-a-Mole with your mind. You gotta be fierce and determined to hit them all. And, of course, a helping hand is always advantageous.
Are there excuses that you have noticed your mind creating to shield you from the difficult and real work of moving forward? What healing hangups do you have?