The Four Words That Are Holding You Back (And the Four Words to Say Instead)

Note: This is a guest post from Lisa Arends of Lessons From The End Of A Marriage.

lisa arends divorce blog
It’s ingrained in all of us.

Inevitably, when I motion for a student to quiet down, I hear the response, “It’s not my fault.” (Or its synonym, “It wasn’t me.”)

It is a knee-jerk reaction to any pronouncement of culpability.

And rather than grow out of it as we grow older, we begin to pay others to tell us that it is not our fault.

We all like to hear that it’s not our fault.

When I first starting getting into health and fitness in the early 90s, I noticed that the industry advice came in two distinct forms – one voice said that you could transform your life and your body through willpower and hard work, while the other side spoke of reassurances that the excess weight or sagging muscle was due to no fault of your own (and often this burden shift would be followed up with a “quick fix” for the low, low price of only $19.95).

And I soon figured out that the second view led to increased sales.

Even as it failed to create the desired body.

Because we all like to hear that it’s not our fault. That someone or something else is responsible for whatever is holding us back.

Yet even though we all have circumstances that make certain goals more challenging, ultimately, you are the only thing holding you back.

You are ultimately the only thing holding you back.

I encounter people that tell me that they cannot lose weight because of some pre-existing health condition, like PCOS or hypothyroidism. 

“It’s in my genes,” is offered as a reason for the Type II diabetic or person afflicted with metabolic syndrome.

I hear others defend their lack of fitness by claiming they have no time because their family or job requires all of it.

They feel a freedom by stating that it is not their fault.

Yet really they are in chains of their own making.

I work out alongside people who use wheelchairs and people with artificial limbs. I have friends who alternate days at the gym with nights at the hospital as they are treated for their autoimmune disorders. I know women with PCOS who accept that weight loss will be harder for them even as they strive to work within the limitations of their disease. I work with single parents who problem-solve creative ways to exercise while the kids are at practice or asleep.

lisa_arends_blog_wheelchairI’ve never once heard any of these people say that the situation is not their fault.

And it’s no accident that they are constantly pushing the boundaries of their situations.

The problem with, “It’s not my fault,” is that it so easily slides into “And therefore there’s nothing I can do about it.”

And the two declarations are vastly different.

It is not your fault if you have been cursed by faulty genes that cause your body to grasp onto every fat cell for dear life.

(And what are you going to do now?)

It is not your fault if you suffered at the hands of abusive or negligent parents who failed to give you the tools to excel in adulthood.

(And what are you going to do now?)

It is not your fault if you have been exposed to trauma, bruising and damaging your very core.

(And what are you going to do now?)

It’s not your fault if your brain struggles with anxiety or depression.

(And what are you going to do now?)

It’s not your fault if your spouse cheated or abandoned you.

(And what are you going to do now?)

In all of these cases (or in any limitations and struggles you have in your life), you can spend your energy on blaming the fault-carrier. Others will help you, either for pay or for free. After all, it’s easy to point fingers at others.

Because then we are absolved of any effort.

Of course, we are also guaranteed not to make any progress.

Because the last time I checked, reps of reciting “It’s my hormones,” had a dramatically lesser effect on fitness than reps on the weight machine.

And assigning liability to a screwed up family of origin is inherently dissatisfying because they’re too entrenched in their own drama to absorb yours.

And calling your cheating ex an ass won’t help you get off yours to build your new life.

So rather than focus on what happened, focus on what you can do now.

Replace “It’s not my fault” with “It is my responsibility.”

Rather than point fingers (or waste your time and money on those that help you pass blame), use those fingers to grab your own bootstraps.

lisa_arends_blogger_bootstrapsNobody else is going to do it for you.

Your future is your responsibility.

Your well-being is your responsibility.

Your happiness is your responsibility.

And if you don’t accept that responsibility, that IS your fault.

It is my responsibility to…

Shift my attention from what happened to me to what I am going to make happen.

Focus on what I can do.

See my limitations as my starting point, not as excuses to never start.

Be realistic with my goals.

Set a limit to the amount of energy I expend on placing blame. That energy can be put to better use.

Surround myself with people who believe I can.

Ask for (and accept) help when I need it.

To refuse to allow somebody else to define me.

Communicate my needs clearly and calmly.

Manage my emotions so that they do not control me.

Establish and maintain appropriate boundaries.

Speak and act with kindness. Towards others and also towards myself.

Believe in myself and act in accordance with that belief.

And what are you going to do now?

 

 

About the author:

lisa arends blogger 

Lisa Arends is the author of the best-selling book Lessons From the End of a Marriage and a frequent blogger. Lisa inspires others through her blog, which is a space for those who have experienced the trauma that comes from the end of a significant relationship, and are seeking to move beyond grief and anger. Check out her blog. Be sure and check out Lisa’s online course, where she aspires to help those who feel victimized and stuck as the result of divorce. Learn more about her course, here.

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