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Time Lying

Image by flickrfy

There’s something that’s been bothering me lately: hearing, again and again, from clients, friends, colleagues, “I don’t have enough time.”

I have a thing about this phrase. It gets to me. It bothers me because I think we use it when we mean something else, when we mean “I don’t want to.” “That’s not compelling to me.” “That doesn’t appeal to me because…” We time-lie.

It bothers me because it makes us glorious, powerful human beings—beings with agency and the power to shape our lives—into victims of time. It makes 24-hours-in-a-day a constraint instead of an obscenely-over-the-top gift.

Time Lying To Ourselves

“But I am busy!” you say. “I have no time! There is so much I would do if I had the time.”

Maybe. Maybe there is more you would do. But in my coaching practice, I see again and again that underneath “I don’t have enough time” or “I’m too busy for that” is always some other block, some other source of resistance. It could be fear (quite often it’s fear of failure or simply of the unknown), inertia to stay with the status quo, or simply “not wanting to,” and feeling that “I don’t want to” isn’t an acceptable reason that stands on it’s own.

So we time-lie to ourselves. We convince ourselves the reason we aren’t doing x is that we don’t have enough time, when the real reason is fear or a “not wanting to” that we feel guilty about.

I can’t tell you how often in coaching sessions this happens: right after a client has shared how a particular passion makes their heart rise and their spirit blissful and the world feel magical comes the line, “But I don’t have time to do that.” It would be funny if it weren’t so serious.

We convince ourselves (conveniently) that we need hours upon hours to do the things we love. It’s my job as coach to say, “Really? 15 minutes, twice a week, is plenty to start. How important is this to you?”  After we dispense with the next round of excuses (“I don’t have the equipment,” “I don’t have the right space in my house,” etc.) we usually get to the kernel of pure fear. And then we face it.

Whatever the truth is, let’s own it. Let’s tell ourselves the truth. Instead of repeating to ourselves over and over again that we are victims of too few hours in the day, let’s use words that empower us and reflect the power we each have, like “I’ve chosen to prioritize other things right now” or “It’s not compelling enough for me right now.” No more of this “I don’t have enough time.”

Time Lying to Others

Sometimes we lie about “not enough time” to others. We don’t want to ruffle feathers, or disappoint. We don’t have the courage to say, “I don’t want to,” “that’s not important to me,” or, as Danielle LaPorte has written about, “it just doesn’t feel right.” We use the bland, socially acceptable substitute, “I just don’t have enough time.”

I do this. I do it all the time. I find it scary to say no simply because I don’t want to, because I’m not interested, because I have issues with such and such aspect of what’s being proposed…whatever. I want to be nice. To not be the one to cause conflict or make a mess. I don’t want to offend or leave you feeling rejected.

I’ll grant you (and me) this: perhaps there are rare instances when a graceful exit is sorely needed, when dealing with someone who doesn’t hear difficult truths well, someone you can’t afford to upset. Perhaps there are times like these when it’s reasonable to use the cop out, “not enough time” line.

But most of the time, we can do better. We can tell the truth, for the sake of deepening our relationships by doing so, and for the sake of honoring and owning what’s true.

Photo by Massay

Even in the struggle, you are loved.

You are being loved not in spite of the hardship, but through it.

The thing you see as wrenching, intolerable, life’s attack on you,

is an expression of love.


There is the part of us that fears and protects and defends and expects,

and has a story of the way it’s supposed to turn out.

That part clenches in fear, feels abandoned and cursed.


There is another part, resting at the floor of the well within, that understands:

this is how I am being graced, called, refined, by fire.

The secret is, it’s all love.

It’s all doorways to truth.

It’s all opportunity to merge with what is.

Most of us don’t step through the doorframe.

We stay on the known side.

We fight the door, we fight the frame, we scream and hang on.

On the other side, you are one with the earth, like the mountain.

You hum with life, like the moss.

On the other side, you are more beautiful:

wholeness in your bones, wisdom in your gaze,

the sage-self and the surrendered heart alive.