Do you spot yourself making excuses as to why you don’t have the results you want in your life, but you aren’t quite sure how to stop this habit? If this is you, episode 32 may be of help!
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- How does arguing for your limitations looks like in your real life
- What bass lessons has taught me about taking criticism from a clean place
- How to train yourself to not indulge in your excuses
- Two ways to handle when other people derail the conversation to defend themselves and argue for their limitations
- Instagram: @iamsoniaortiz
Full transcript (posted when available)
Hello friends and welcome to another episode of the podcast. It’s the summer time so this is gonna be a mini episode. Now you will need to hear this one if you’re the kind of person who tends to have a lot of excuses – for everything – and you want to change this pattern.
So the concept I wanted to share today is the idea of arguing for your limitations and why spotting this pattern is important so you can stop it. I don’t know who first coined that term, but the first person I heard mentioning it was Esther Hicks.
In my own words and experience, arguing for your limitations happens when you tend to give a lot of airtime – either with your thoughts or with your words or both, to the things you don’t like about yourself, the things you don’t like in the world, the things that aren’t going very well in your life, or the things that limit you and are causing you problems which is another way to say your excuses.
A lot of the really deep and strong pathways we have in our brains with all those neurons firing together are there because they have helped us survive. Things like being able to spot danger, and identify problems were key for our survival right?
So I share this bit of oversimplified evolutionary psychology not to further give you reasons and excuses to keep arguing for your limitations, but to help you remove the judgement and shame you may have about engaging in this pattern of negative thinking and spotting problems and talking about the excuses all the time.
Excuse making and arguing for limitations are like the default, factory settings our brain comes with. These settings work, they serve a purpose, but now it’s our job to install some new apps that will help us do cool stuff that isn’t only surviving and spotting danger. We want apps to help us have fun, create new things, reach new goals, find new solutions, and so on.
Now, how does arguing for your own limitations look like in real life? I know that some of you learn better with concrete examples, so I wanna share one way in which I have spotted this pattern in my life and it has been with my bass lessons.
I remember after 3-4 classes I had with my teacher, I caught myself noticing that if I made a mistake, I automatically wanted to share why I had made it.
I thought this was cute and very intellectual. I wanted to get really detailed and smart and be like “yeees, I made that mistake because this one exercise was so different from the previous one in this way and this other way”
Or I wanted to be funny, like: “omg I got distracted by my dog”
Or I wanted to talk about my past and say something like “ohh, this is what I used to learn in my music theory class when I was a child and this was always the hardest”.
I always had a good reason, and on some occasions I did share some of those thoughts. But soon after I realized that doing so wasn’t really that helpful.
In the time I would take to argue why playing that bass line or doing that rhythm exercise was hard, I could have practiced it 2-3 times, which would have increased my chances to NOT making a mistake the next time, VS. taking all that time describing my mistake and the reasons why I did it.
Can you see how the pattern works?
Arguing for your limitations is like going to bed with your excuses. It feels good in the moment, it gives you some emotional relief, especially if the alternative is to blame and shame yourself, but overall it doesn’t really add to the conversation and it doesn’t get you where you wanna go.
Now you may encounter this pattern of arguing for limitations also at work when for example, you are providing a solution to someone, maybe a client or a team member, and they agree to go with that solution, but just after they accept it, then they go on a rant to describe the problem in detail again, and why it was so painful and so on, and you’re there going like, “ok, but can we talk about the solution we just agreed upon tho?”
So as you can see, you can be and will be throughout your life – on both sides of arguing for limitations .You may be the one listing and indulging your excuses or drawing evidence from your past to build your case – or you may be the one who’s on the receiving end, patiently or impatiently – listening to someone else list all their problems and excuses and limitations.
So what can you do when you spot this pattern?
First of all, you have to name it. When you see it in yourself, just name it. At first you may not notice when you’re doing it, and you may only realize it afterwards. This is fine. It took me like 3-4 classes for me to realize I was arguing for my limitations with my bass teacher, but after I spotted it, I was able to plan ahead and decide that I would not engage in that because it’s a waste of time.
Now, once you name it and you can spot it in yourself, you need to find something else to replace this behaviour with.
Like I just mentioned in my example with my bass lessons, what I decided to do was to plan ahead that whenever I would get a correction, no matter how many stories and hypothesis and reasons why I made the mistake my brain could come up with, I would simply take a breath and say “OK, I understand” and proceed with whatever action I was going to take.
What’s really important when you do this is that you need to expect for your brain to want to revert to the old habit. You have to expect your brain yelling at you being like “BUT WE NEED TO EXPLAIN OURSELVES” and for it to feel very urgent. Expect that, and plan to ignore it anyway.
Now, you may wonder what to do if you spot someone else doing this with you?
Should you just interrupt them and tell them, HEY! STOP WITH THE EXCUSES, GET OVER YOURSELF. Well, you’re welcome to tell people what you want, but in my experience yelling at others to get over themselves rarely works.
If you find yourself dealing with someone who often derails a conversation because they want to share their expose on limitations, even after you both agree to move to a new solution, then you can gently remind them of something like: “hey, we agreed we had a solution to work towards, I would love if we could focus our attention and resources on the solution, what do you think” or you can also use the classic NLP phrasing of “in a moment I’m gonna ask you that we shift our focus to talk about the solution, ok?”
Obviously the words will get to you once your thinking is free of judgement about this pattern. No one argues for their limitations because they want to hurt you or derail the conversation.
Most of the time this pattern is an automatic habit we have because we want to defend ourselves and protect ourselves.
So if you want to become more aware of this, always ask yourself, what side am I arguing for? Am I arguing for the version of myself I want to be? Am I arguing for the solution to the problem that I want to see and create? Or am I giving too much airtime to the limitations and the problems?
When you stop arguing for your limitations you open your mind to more solutions, more flexibility and better relationships with yourself and with others.
Go ahead and stop arguing for your limitations this week. Let me know if you have any questions or if you need any extra help with this concept by messaging me on Instagram, my handle is @iamsoniaortiz. I will talk to you next week!