Isms in my opinion are not good. A person should not believe in an ism. He should believe in himself.
—Ferris Beuller, Ferris Bueller's Day Off
What's Your Excuse?
Even though we make every effort to get to our goals we sometimes may find that they still seem to be just out of reach and we can't explain why. We've done our work. We've listed our characteristics and qualities. We've drawn our imaginings out. We've shifted our focus to more positive, hopeful thoughts. We've written our new and better story, but we still seem to be stuck in the muck. So what could be going on?
One barrier to fully stepping into your new story and allowing all of your work to get results for you is that you may have an underlying excuse holding you back. Excuses (typically driven by hidden fears) are plentiful, and we often use them to justify and perpetuate our current situation of lack and limitation. This applies to all situations, not just relationships. Many of us will even fight to keep our excuses in place, inadvertently sabotaging the deserving gift of living the life we were meant to live. But once you identify your excuse, your awareness will help you more powerfully step into your story, own your fears and still move forward.
A Lesson from the Ultimate Excuse-Maker
In Ferris Beuller's Day Off (one of the best movies to come out of the 80s), excuses are the bedrock of the storyline. Ferris and his friends create an elaborate series of excuses in order to have the best day ever skipping school. Sure, in reality they were resisting facing graduation, the inevitable evolution into adulthood and the fear of growing apart, but the spirit with which they wove their excuses and stories not only fooled everyone but took us on a raucous ride of entertainment and thought-provoking dialogue, including this opening monologue from Matthew Broderick:
Excuse Neutralizer Play
In this Play you will do a visualization where you project yourself into the future state of having your ideal relationship. After your visualization, you'll list any speed bumps (aka negative emotions, concerns, doubts etc.) that arose during your visualization. Take each speed bump and explore by answering "what if..." questions that help you mine the fear buried within. Then, you'll take each and write a positive statement that results in a more positive emotion (more toward your Magnetic North) and neutralizes your fear.
- VISUALIZATION: Imagine yourself in your ideal relationship. What are you doing? How do you feel? What is now possible that you are in this place with your ideal partner? Who are you being while you are with them? How has your daily schedule changed? How has your social life changed? What does your family think of this? What are you doing now that you weren't doing before? Explore many different aspects until you hit your speed bumps.
- SPEED BUMPS: List the concerns, worries, doubts, fears, negative emotions that arose during your visualization. Examples: doubt/disbelief your ideal exists, lose your freedom and individuality, have to compromise and give up things you enjoy, afraid of getting dumped again, too good to be true, etc.
- EXPLORATION: Take each speed bump and add it to the end of this sentence: "What if..." and then answer the question, such as, Question: "What if I gave up the things I enjoyed?" Answer: "I am afraid that if I give up the things I enjoy that I'll lose my identity and feel imposed upon. I'm afraid of giving up the things that make me happy and eventually resenting my partner." (Note that you should arrive at some base fear or story you believe to be true about the what if statement. This is why you are making an excuse not to live the ideal relationship you say you really want.)
- NEUTRALIZE: Look at your fears/stories and excuses. Write a new story (use the appreciative inquiry approach) about how it could unfold for you, easing and owning the fear and neutralizing its ability to stop you from manifesting your ideal relationship. For example: "I know that when I finally meet up with my ideal partner, we will create many new experiences we can share together. I will feel so comfortable and relaxed and able to be my natural self around them. They will want me to keep doing the things that are important to me in my life because they tell me 'that's what makes me, me!' And many of the things that I like to do I will invite them to join in on the fun and that we both get to enjoy them together will add more texture and richness to our lives. I know that I will be able to be my own person in this ideal relationship and my partner will love me even more for it. It will also help me appreciate what they have in their lives that they enjoy and I will respect that even more because they respect that for me." Bonus: Draw out the scenes of your ideal relationship after you've completed writing the new story, such as pictures of you doing things independently or your partner sharing in something you love to do.