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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.

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You know that person in your community that you’ve always been aware of but never gotten to know? At least a dozen people you know know them, and like them. You hear their name all the time. But something in you just feels kind of apathetic, uninterested, in getting to know this person. You kinda feel like, “yeah, I’ll stay over here on this side of the room, and you stay over there.” Just no click.

For about fifteen years, as I hung out in personal growth circles – in the reading, the thinking, the occasional workshop, the practices – and that was my relationship to the concept of “living the in the present.” Everyone was talking about it. It came up all the time. But I wasn’t drawn to it. I was drawn to concepts like transformation, love, freedom, joy. The plain old present moment? Blah.

About a year ago, I started writing about the present moment. I befriended the concept. I began to see how I was limited by my brain’s compulsion to be running all over the place, taking me into the future and the past and nine hundred random hypotheticals all the time. I got the value of it. Kind of.

Our journeys of personal growth unfold with their own rhythm and timeline, and what’s happening in mine now is a calling to go deeper into mindfullness, meditation, into familiarity with the present moment. What seemed boring now seems rich. What seemed icky now has a magnetic pull. I’m seeing in a whole new way what the simplicity of reality in the present moment offers us, and how it is a key to so much. I’ll be writing about this much more.

What is evolving naturally in your journey right now? What are you feeling called to? What’s shifting?

I want to direct your attention to two related guests posts, which I’m behind on sharing with you. (There is so much pressure in the blogging world to do everything immediately, and I’m not always able to keep up!)

Anyway, on this topic, of being with what is, please see my recent guest post Leaving Ourselves at the beautiful blog Embody Grace. Gina is a fabulous writer and her blog is quite a resource. If you know that you reach for something – TV, email, twitter, food, shopping, etc – to avoid what’s happening in the present moment, this post is for you.

Yesterday, I had a guest post at 6 aliens, Ben Lumley’s personal growth blog. Ben is a remarkable guy with a tremendous passion for personal growth, and I’ve been totally delighted to get to know him. The post is about a phenomenon that most certainly is getting in your way in your life, from time to time or all the time. I call the phenomenon The Ego Detour, and you’ll want to read about it and get some tools for addressing it’s nasty effects.

By the way, I am home from paradise (thanks everyone who has been asking)! I’m actually taking off for trip #2 today, heading out to Boulder, Colorado for a couple days accompanying the husband on a business trip, and then to NYC, to frolic around with dear friends, soak up art (I LOVE ART!!) and generally bask in the overwhelming glory that is New York City.

That’s the scoop.

Sending you all wishes for a day in which you are relentlessly kind to yourself. Please?



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