Make No Excuses!

By: LUMO Leaders

- Publish On: March 25, 2022

Hello Ladies, Gents, Mothers and others,

I recently had a conversation with a girlfriend (let’s call her Lindsay) that really stuck with me and, after getting her permission, I’d like to share it with you. 

A little backstory: Lindsay’s mother was recently diagnosed with cancer and, while she lives a 12 hour drive or 2 hour flight away, Lindsay has been supporting her from a distance by coordinating all her doctors appointments, medical care, etc. 

Last week, when Lindsay and I were trying to coordinate a get-together, she shared with me how much she was struggling to decide if she should come with me to an upcoming event, or travel to be with her mom who was prepping for cancer surgery. 

She acknowledged that she needed to do something for herself before this next stage of her mom’s treatment, and that her mental well-being was waning, but she also was sure that the prep would be hard on her mom. She knew that getting together with me would be restorative for her, but she felt called to support her mom. She was concerned that if something happened to her mother in surgery and she had missed that extra time with her she would deeply regret it. 

While she was grappling with this decision, I told her that our friendship wasn’t contingent on this event, and that there would be other opportunities for us to be together. I even offered for us to create an alternative time to get together before she left to go to her mom’s, to which she brightened and shared with me that she loved “having an excuse” to hang out with me. 

While this warmed my heart (and pumped up my ego), it also made me think about the impact of this. As mothers, partners, employees/employers, adult children caring for our aging parents, etc. we often pit these roles against what we want (and often need).  

To this I say NO.  We don’t need an “excuse” to justify spending time with our friends – a want and likely a need?  

So, I told her: 

“We don’t ever need an excuse. We get to say how it goes. We get to create it.”

In coaching working parent clients, I’ve discovered that this either them or me conundrum is quite common.  It’s basically the “common cold” of parenthood – Caregiver Guilt. Eureka! Now that we have a name for it, what do we do about Caregiver Guilt? So happy you asked.  Here are a few thoughts: 

  1. Awareness is the first step to transforming anything. Notice and name what’s going on for you. What are you feeling guilty about? What’s the actual fear beneath it? 

  2. Practice perspective taking. What would you say to a friend or someone you love and respect if they were in your shoes?

  3. Get clear on your values and what matters most. Practice choosing from your values vs. choosing from guilt. I’m sure you’re familiar with the guilt buffet: guilt, shame, sh*t, blame… Not delicious. Try choosing from heart, integrity, joy, or possibility.

  4. Well-being, well-being, well-being.  Can’t be said enough. The more well-being we experience, the better we feel, and the greater our capacity to keep Caregiver Guilt at bay. When self-care is solid and non-negotiable, your foundation is unshakable. You won’t need to manufacture “excuses” to take care of yourself.  

Back to my girl, Lindsay, who chose to go be with her mom–choosing from love, care, connection, NOT GUILT–and we committed to meeting our shared need for connection, joy, and humor by making a plan to get together when she returns from being with her mom. 

For which we need NO EXCUSE

Before we hung up from our call, I asked Lindsey what she could do to really take care of herself and her well-being in advance of her trip and she declared that she was going to book herself a massage. Boy was she excited. 

Imagine what it would feel like to not need an excuse. To genuinely be excited about taking great care of yourself. What are you waiting for an excuse to do for yourself? Reimagine this article as a permission slip to do just that  – NOW! 

You don’t need an excuse to get your needs met. 

With love,

Elena & the LUMO team

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