Episode 30: Excuses, Excuses: Our Favorite Reasons Not To

Til Luchau:

Hi. This is Til Luchau. When I was looking for a publisher for a book I wanted to write, I was lucky enough to have ended up with two offers, one from a huge international media conglomerate and the other from Handspring, a small publisher in Scotland run by four awesome people. I’m glad I chose them, Handspring, as not only did they help me make the books I wanted to share with you, the Advanced Myofascial Technique series, but their catalog has emerged as one of the leading collections of professional level books written especially for bodyworkers, movement teachers, and all professionals who use movement or touch to help patients achieve wellness.

Whitney Lowe:

Hi. I’m Whitney Lowe. Handspring’s Moved to Learn webinars are free, 45-minute segments, featuring their authors, including a recent one from Til. Head on over to their website at handspringpublishing.com to check those out and be sure to use the code TTP at checkout for a discount. We thank you, Handspring. Good afternoon, Til. How are you today?

Til Luchau:

Hey, pretty good, Whitney. How about yourself?

Whitney Lowe:

I’m doing well. We’re rounding out near the very end of the year today. We are actually recording this episode on New Year’s Eve.

Til Luchau:

That’s right.

Whitney Lowe:

There’s probably not a person around who’s very happy to see 2020 leaving.

Til Luchau:

Not happy to see it leaving, yeah. Maybe or the other way around too.

Whitney Lowe:

Yeah, been one hell of a year. We are going to talk a little bit about some interesting things related to new beginnings, new activities, and New Year’s this year. That’s our topic.

Til Luchau:

Yeah, it’s a New Year’s topic. This is the time of year people think back on the past year, but especially start to look ahead for the new year. Whether you’re listening to this here at the beginning of January or you’re listening to it throughout the year, it’s always a time we reflect and think, how do I want to be doing things? What could I do that’s better? Often, what comes up is how do I take care of myself? Typical New Year’s resolutions involve that often. It’s like 55% of New Year’s resolutions, they say, involve health behaviors. There’s so much to say about that.

Til Luchau:

It’s so relevant to our professional life, our professional longevity as practitioners, how we take care of ourselves, how we decide, how we spend our time. It’s also relevant to our work with clients, because so many of the things our clients come in with, for us to help them with, have a self-care component. It’s so often that we see things in clients where we just go, if you just did this, this might be a whole lot better for you, rather than you coming to me to help you with that.

Whitney Lowe:

Yeah, I’m curious. I want to ask you, your take on this, with that high percentage of things relevant to health care issues, why do you suppose that is? Why is that so high on all of our lists for resolutions and things?

Til Luchau:

Why 55% of resolutions about health related behaviors? Yeah, that’s a good thing. I think it might be related to just some of the intrinsic challenges in taking care of ourselves. Sometimes it’s the physical actions or physical behaviors we do that care for ourselves as living, breathing people.

Whitney Lowe:

Your health is something that’s always with you and probably frequently on your mind about things you can say, yeah, I really would feel better if I felt better.

Til Luchau:

That’s right. That’s right. Well, the cost of not taking care of ourselves is huge too. It does get in our way of enjoying life, like you said. COVID has been interesting, because it really shifted the landscape on a lot of this for everyone. In some ways, I think people are getting better at taking care of themselves from the stories I hear and my friends I talk to and for myself. In other ways, the challenge is more squarely on us to do what we need to do for our bodies and our wellbeing.

Whitney Lowe:

Yeah, I think you’re right. It certainly can cut both ways with that, because I’ve also seen a lot of posts and things from people saying like, oh yeah, because of COVID, I haven’t put on real clothes in three weeks. I’m just wearing sweatpants and pajamas every day. I don’t care about how I look to everybody else. Some of that can slip into our self-care, of taking care of ourselves some ways I think too that can be the potential.

Til Luchau:

Yeah, cutting corners or reasoning up around the norms. That’s an interesting relationship between self-respect, say, and self-care. There’s so much to say, Whitney, as you know, about how to motivate ourselves or our clients, how to do better, how to set goals and move toward goals and be accountable. There’s so much to say about that. Rather than focus on those today, I thought, why don’t we just talk about the excuses, the excuses we use not to do that stuff? 

Whitney Lowe:

I think that’s where the rubber hits the road. That’s where the big challenges are for all of us, I think, are the reasons and the rationale that we make for why we don’t do those things.

Til Luchau:

That’s right.

Whitney Lowe:

I think learning more about ourselves and shining the light a little bit on our own issues and our own processes can help us be both empathic and compassionate with our clients when they’re in the similar types of things and maybe also give us some strategies for working on that may help them find ways to move through it as well.

Til Luchau:

Awesome, great. Let’s look for that. I’m a full time project for myself. If we can apply this to clients even better. There’s certain ways to do that. The cost of not taking care of ourselves is huge. They say that 80% of health care cost is related to five basic behaviors that all have to do with self-care: smoking, drinking, eating, stress, and exercise—80% of all health care costs.

Whitney Lowe:

That’s huge, yeah. Absolutely huge, yeah.

Til Luchau:

That’s the cost to society. Then, of course, the cost to each of us is huge too because we don’t feel good. We have earlier symptoms, earlier problems related to aging. They show up early if we don’t take care of ourselves. We lose our satisfaction in life, we lose our productivity, all those kinds of things.

Whitney Lowe:

Yeah. I think if you look at many of the types of medical conditions whose primary driving factors are smoking, poor drinking habits, poor eating habits, and stress, we see lots of the big ones that are highly impactful health care conditions relating to those things as well. Clearly, that plays out with everybody’s. Not only just the public health facet, but everybody’s individual wellbeing there.

Til Luchau:

Yup. The new year’s, there’s a kind of reckoning time. People start to go, okay, I really would like to take a better care of myself. Because often, the problem isn’t knowledge, it’s just behavior, it’s actually doing it. Most people know some things they could do for themselves. Even if they don’t, there’s often the desire there to do that. New Year’s resolutions are a way that people reflect and sort that out and set some intentions. That’s good. Although it’s hard, because there’s a lot of research into resolutions as interesting topic. There’s bunch of it that’s been in the press. You’re probably familiar with some of it, but just 8% of resolutions make it out of January in terms of the behaviors.

Whitney Lowe:

Yeah, just 8%.

Til Luchau:

8% last past January. Then Strava, the exercise app, it’s a couple of years now in a row of analysis of their user data to see how long people. They see a big spike around New Years in people using their exercise apps. Then it drops off and they’ve named January 19th, this last year, as the quitting day, quitter’s day, the day that most people quit and the most things drop off on their intentions. Interestingly, the year before that, it was January 12th, a week longer.

Whitney Lowe:

We’re getting better. 

Til Luchau:

Yeah. Who knows that it’s going to be into COVID. There’s that effect of we get a good start on it, but it’s hard to keep going, hard to …

Whitney Lowe:

It is. I wonder and I’ve seen this certainly with myself, is I look at times when I’ve made those kinds of resolutions, just the negative feedback loop that can emerge when you recognize that you’re not going to meet those resolutions. You see your process starting to break down. It’s like, oh, there I go again, not following through on something. Then it can have negative self-repeating messaging to yourself. I’m not any good. I can’t keep up with this sort of thing. That’s detrimental for us all, I think.

Til Luchau:

Huge, yeah. The toxicity involved of the disappointment in ourselves or the shame around that ends up in that spiral, that loop where it gets harder and harder to face that. It’s part of the mechanism there too.

Whitney Lowe:

Yeah, sure.

Til Luchau:

Just another example of how hard it is to set an intention and follow through with it, like heart surgery, open heart surgery, which is not only a huge deal for the body, it’s really invasive on your body to be cut open in that way and then put back together. It can cost up to 100 grand, it’s really traumatic, not only to your body, but to the people around you. Then it turns out that about half of, say, the angioplasties have a restenosis that happens where they basically clog back up again. Both of those are preventable through behavior changes.

Til Luchau:

If we just change our behavior, the arteries wouldn’t clog back up again. Turns out that 90% of people that go through that, say, about bypass surgery, don’t change their lifestyles after two years. You’re looking at better and there hasn’t been a change in lifestyle for 90% of them in spite of that.

Whitney Lowe:

Yeah. I think a lot of that kind of stuff is … Some of those things that they’ve come in with are so heavily ingrained, both behaviorally, psychologically, and some of them with chemical addictions and things like that. I know with my dad, we used to joke with him a good bit, in that there was this story. He had two heart attacks during his life. After his first heart attack, when he was in for a bypass surgery, snuck out of the intensive care unit to go smoke a cigarette. We’re just like, really? He knew it was not good for him to go do that. The chemical addiction was so strong, I think.

Til Luchau:

Sure, that’s a factor, or behavior addiction, or just … We’re all there in some sense. That’s a really dramatic example. It’s hard for all of us to change those habits and those behaviors. Like losing weight, 97% of people who lose weight end up getting it back in five years.

Whitney Lowe:

Yeah, yeah. I would imagine that a lot of that is both. I think a lot of those food things are behavioral things as well as there’s metabolic factors. A lot of people in our culture stress eat. I see myself doing it periodically and just like, oh, I’ll definitely eat that because I’m so stressed out. I don’t care if I’m just eating a bag of Fritos or something like that for lunch. It’s just poor choice things, and we’ll get on to that a little bit later of why we allow ourselves to do that, what our excuses are. It’s so easy.

Til Luchau:

Diet is such a tricky and deeply ingrained one, because it’s related to so many habits, behaviors, traditions, self-attitudes, those kind of soothing behaviors, all sorts of things.

Whitney Lowe:

Yeah. It’s interesting, both looking psychologically too. The role of nurturance, food and nutrition and the things that get ingrained in us from the very, very early stages of our life, of food being associated with sustenance and love and touch and all those kinds of things. There’s probably all kinds of connections.

Til Luchau:

Did you say touch?

Whitney Lowe:

Yes.

Til Luchau:

Okay.

Whitney Lowe:

Yeah, your mother’s breast milk and the touch and the holding and caressing associated with eating and all that kind of stuff.

Til Luchau:

Yeah. In this touch-deprived time, where do we look for that sort of comfort, deep nurturance, as you said.

Whitney Lowe:

Yeah, yeah. I was watching one of those shows the other day, that was one of those year interview shows, they were talking about all the people who had … Just everybody got into baking during this COVID thing, because they were home alone. I’d say I’m one of those people who … I didn’t get into the baking thing. I didn’t end up having that kind of extra time around. There’s a lot of food preparation that was going on in much more detail than I think there was under normal conditions.

Til Luchau:

There was. Both junk food or comfort food and ingredients for home cooked meals, both of those have gone up quite a bit during COVID. Food is a place we’re turning to for that, which … Some of us at the end of the year going, okay, maybe I could drop a little of that, maybe I would exercise. We’re still winding up to our excuses. We’re still hiding, getting closer to a place. I wanted to also, before we get into that though, just talk about how … This is a bit both in my own life, but also in my observations of the people I teach, that us, the health care and helping professions are, on average, worse at this than other groups.

Whitney Lowe:

Interesting.

Til Luchau:

Yeah. We build getting some bodywork into our certification program. Typically, that was the last requirement that the bodyworkers would get done. That’s not true for all bodyworkers. Some are really good at making sure they’re getting work as well as giving it. On the whole, we tend to put it off. We don’t tend to put that first. We don’t put ourselves first.

Whitney Lowe:

I’ve often wondered about this. Do you think this is something more along the lines of the completely altruistic individual who says, I’ll put myself last, I’ll take care of everybody else first, essentially, the bodhisattva of health processes or something like that.

Til Luchau:

Yeah, that’s right.

Whitney Lowe:

I wonder if that’s a big factor of it. The other thing too that’s interesting is that we need to model healthy behaviors for our clients in many instances. That’s a challenge. It’s a potential problem, I think, to not be able to do that really well. Because they want to feel like, hey, I’ll do what you suggest if you’re showing me that you’re doing it too. That’s.

Til Luchau:

To walk our talk. It’s huge.

Whitney Lowe:

Exactly, yeah.

Til Luchau:

It’s huge. I run across some statistics when I put together our stress course, that I went back to the other day and looked at again. I want to follow them some more, because it’s really interesting, but a couple of statistics around that. About 10% more caregivers or people in the health professions say that they tried to make positive changes in their health in the last five years than the general population. In other words, we …

Whitney Lowe:

Interesting.

Til Luchau:

Yeah. We tend to try harder. We tend to say we tried more. I don’t want to discourage us too much. By most measures, we’re actually worse at doing it, at least in terms of self-assessment. Other measures, stress management, we tend to be about 10% worse than the average population in our self-assessment of our effectiveness, our stress, our self-care behaviors also tend to be worse.

Whitney Lowe:

Why do you suppose that? Why do you think self-care is so hard for us? Why? What’s the  question there.

Til Luchau:

No, it’s true. We bookmark the few ones in terms of the health care provider thing. We tend to be helpful people. We want to take care of people. We forget that we’re people. Yeah, we’re the source, not the target of our care for all those complicated reasons, both internal to ourselves and our own psychology and external to our circumstances and the lives we create, and then systemically as well and culturally as well. Audre Lorde, as a Black woman, she talked about how self-care for her was an act of political warfare, she said. It’s not self-indulgence. Its self-preservation.

Whitney Lowe:

Interesting.

Til Luchau:

There’s whole societal dimensions of this as well, as well as very deeply personal psychological ones. Am I worth it? Do I have the self-worth? Do I think I’m worthy, even of attending to or taking care of myself?

Whitney Lowe:

That’s getting into a lot of individual self-esteem facets of this as well.

Til Luchau:

One of the most relevant, I think, to me, as I unpack this and work on this in myself over the years, is the relationship to procrastination in general. Timothy Pytell says, he put a book out about procrastination, solving the procrastination puzzle is good. He doesn’t see procrastination as a time management issue, which was interesting thought to me because I’ve done so much on time management over the years. Ask me about time management systems and I can go on for a while. I love them. I use them. He says, procrastination isn’t a time management issue, but an emotion management issue.

Whitney Lowe:

I believe that.

Til Luchau:

Yeah, that makes sense to you too?

Whitney Lowe:

Yeah, absolutely. Because I think lots of us have dozens of tools that we can use to help us manage time. I think that’s not the big problem. I saw a post on Facebook the other day. Somebody said like, god, look at how much stuff I got done while I was procrastinating doing this other thing that I needed to get done. Clearly, it’s not a matter of that management of time. It’s just like, I don’t really want to have to do some of these kinds of things.

Til Luchau:

Yeah, right. His definition, procrastination is a voluntary delay of an intended act despite the knowledge that delay may harm us.

Whitney Lowe:

Yeah. Now I just thought of something interesting along these lines that…

Til Luchau:

Tell me.

Whitney Lowe:

… when we think of the individuals who are in many of the healthcare environments, massage therapists, bodyworkers, the people who are doing the things that we’re talking to, a vast majority of them are working pretty much independently of an overseeing boss who’s really riding you, let’s say, all the time. This might be the case that a low level …

Til Luchau:

This kind of practice …

Whitney Lowe:

… office work job. Clearly, you might have an employer or somebody else, but to a large extent, many of us are in charge of our own time and life. That gives us a lot more capability to procrastinate because …

Til Luchau:

That’s right.

Whitney Lowe:

Yeah, we’re less accountable to ourselves than we are to somebody else.

Til Luchau:

This dream of independence that motivates a lot of practitioners to work on their own time and in their own way, but that also means we’re responsible for how we use our time and the priorities we make and how effective we are at doing the things that need to be done.

Whitney Lowe:

Yeah, right. There’s a double-edged sword there for sure on some of that.

Til Luchau:

There is. There is. The things that don’t feel good or that would be uncomfortable tend to be the things I put later, typically, if it’s all up to me. That’s the procrastination thing. It’s like if it makes me a little uncomfortable, I tend to do the things that are clearly easy to do first that give me some little hit of maybe productivity. Yeah, I’ll eat like a … What do they call those guilt-free potato chips? I’ll eat some baked potato chips.

Whitney Lowe:

Yeah, that’s right.

Til Luchau:

It feels good right now and it gives me enough of break from feeling bad about the other stuff I eat, that I’ll do that first.

Whitney Lowe:

Yeah. I notice sometimes I will do the reverse. I’ll say like, God, I really don’t want to do this, whatever job it is, maybe it’s accounting or business, bookkeeping, or whatever. I think, you know what, if I just got that off my plate, I would really enjoy the rest of my afternoon. If I just do this first, do this stuff that I don’t like first, I will really enjoy my afternoon. Lot of times, I feel a lot better when I’m able to do that kind of thing. It definitely takes some degree of discipline to put the nose to the grindstone to do those things.

Til Luchau:

The D word, discipline.

Whitney Lowe:

It is, yeah.

Til Luchau:

Were you the kind of student who got your homework done early?

Whitney Lowe:

Yeah. I was not happy, not comfortable not getting my homework done. The self-discipline, this leached over into … Like I had to make sure I did my designated 30 minutes or an hour long practice of my saxophone every night and that kind of thing. I was pretty disciplined on that kind of stuff at school.

Til Luchau:

I’ve always admired that about you. I am the opposite. If I don’t have a deadline, it doesn’t matter. If it’s not up next the deadline, it’s not time yet. Actually, I’ve come to peace with that to a certain extent, that is an environment in which I thrive, having deadlines. Demarking those for myself are one way I manage my character style around that. It’s a little bit hard sometimes on the people around me, which I feel bad about because my staff or editor at ABMP or Handspring or other sponsor here, they’ve all had to deal with that with me, where it’s like, “It’s the deadline, Til, we don’t have anything from you yet. What’s going on here?” I feel a little bad about that. I work better under pressure. I work better when there’s a deadline. That’s just one way I’ve learned to manage that.

Whitney Lowe:

Yeah. I noticed from a stress perspective for myself too. The flipside of being good at discipline is being too rigidly adhered to the disciplinary guideline of I got to get X amount of time into this kind of thing today. If I don’t, then I start getting irritable and frustrated and anxiety increases. There is the downside to that as well.

Til Luchau:

There is. Like all these things, I think what we need is a kind of internal bipartisanship. For myself, the disciplinarian can get along a little better with the spontaneity lover, the one who just wants to follow my nose through life.

Whitney Lowe:

Yeah, exactly. I will certainly credit my wife with helping me with that, because she is certainly much higher on the spontaneity scale. That is something that the balance of bringing those things together helps us like, okay.

Til Luchau:

Yes, that’s great.

Whitney Lowe:

Let’s just go do this crazy thing totally spontaneous sort of thing.

Til Luchau:

Well, yeah.

Whitney Lowe:

We have to have those kind of …

Til Luchau:

My wife helps with that too. That’s interesting to think at how we pair up, or our friends, our social circles ends up supporting those different aspects of us too. That’s good though. Now I want to do some more conversations on this, Whitney. I think I want to maybe even interview you. I can think of some other people. Robert Schleip comes to mind. I’ve already interviewed him. He is amazing on the discipline and the intentionality. This is a really interesting question of how do we navigate, how do we do that bipartisan thing that balance inside of us between the spontaneity and the…

Whitney Lowe:

I remember Leon Chaitow telling me one time that, and I can’t remember the number, so I’ll misquote I’m sure. He said he gets up and he writes 1000 or 1500 words every day before he does anything else. It doesn’t matter if it’s crap. There’s going to get 1500 words written for … That’s why he was so prolific in putting out such a large amount of written work over the years, the cost of production …

Til Luchau:

Yes, it does.

Whitney Lowe:

… just because he could adhere to that kind of discipline process, but there’s …

Til Luchau:

It certainly wasn’t all crap. He did some good stuff.

Whitney Lowe:

Yeah. What you’d end up doing is like, yeah, you’ll have some days of writing crap, but then you got a lot of stuff to work with to help feed it out, edit it, make it turn into something good. That is helpful.

Til Luchau:

Well, there’s something about that. This is related to my last point I think I want to make before we get to our excuses. It’s Dean Ornish’s thing about fear of death and guilt being really bad motivators for people, if people don’t eat better. He was a heart surgeon who had this amazing plan for helping people with heart issues. He says people don’t eat better because they think it’s going to kill them. They eat better because they want to enjoy their food and enjoy life. His quote I wrote down here: “Telling people who are lonely and depressed that they’re going to live longer if they quit smoking or change their diet and lifestyle is not that motivating. Who wants to live longer if you’re with chronic emotional pain?”

Whitney Lowe:

That’s absolutely true. I think that is … Yeah, yeah.

Til Luchau:

That’s deep. That’s like, okay, if …

Whitney Lowe:

Yeah, that is so true.

Til Luchau:

It’s life care. It’s not just self-care. It’s like, can I find a life that I want to live for? I want to take care of myself for. It’s not just …

Whitney Lowe:

It’s almost for the many people who jump onto the health club bandwagon on January 1st and everything saying they’re going to do this, really, might be missing the first and most important step, which is, what do you want, really? What do you want to feel? Not like, why are you doing this? Because everybody says you need to, and you think you need to tell yourself to do that. What do you want to feel like? What do you want to be like? What’s your goal that you’re aiming toward there to be able to make it?

Til Luchau:

Nice. Nice. Like a state defined goal as opposed to an action defined goal. How do I want to feel?

Whitney Lowe:

Yeah, maybe …

Til Luchau:

Something like that.

Whitney Lowe:

Finding a way to operationalize that somehow could be pretty challenging, but it might end up being really important for them as well.

Til Luchau:

Yeah, could be.

Whitney Lowe:

What do you think? We’re going to delve into our excuses.

Til Luchau:

We’d rather talk about experience. What’s our excuse?

Whitney Lowe:

I don’t want to talk about that right now.

Til Luchau:

Yeah, that’s right. Alright, our top excuses for not doing all that good stuff. I’m going to tell you this. I got to say, it makes me a little nervous, a little vulnerable here. My top excuse is that I have too much to do to really take care of myself. I got deadlines. I got these things that I probably wait till the last minute to do or whatever. I got a big list here. Somehow in my mind, I find that to be the good reason not to go take care of myself and do the stuff I want to do for myself.

Whitney Lowe:

Yeah, yeah. I think that’s a common one for so many. I will certainly say that’s high on my list as well too. I think we can morph that into a couple different ways to look at. I certainly have a lot of that sort of thing too. As we were talking about this, my twist on that same piece is I have what I consider to be the wellness care bank that I tap into, which is that I spent a lot of time when I was younger doing a lot of things about physical health, martial arts, meditation, all this kind of stuff that allowed me to get in really good physical shape. I was eating really well and have always eaten pretty well.

Til Luchau:

I’ve seen your …

Whitney Lowe:

What I’ll do is I’ll say, I can take it. That’s my thing, is like, I don’t have time to work on this right now. That’s okay because I can take it, because I’ve got a bank of health built up from the past that I can tap into to carry me over this difficult time when I don’t want to do something.

Til Luchau:

You got your health care homework done early, and so you can take …

Whitney Lowe:

Yeah. I’m really glad that I did a lot of that, because I do think there is a carryover into later parts of life that certainly has been helpful, but I got to be pretty careful about tapping into that too frequently.

Til Luchau:

Well, yeah.

Whitney Lowe:

I just went to the doctor yesterday and found out that I have a stress-induced eye disorder now that’s coming from excessive stress, because I have not been taking care of my stress levels recently. I got like it’s the beginnings of a macular degeneration in my eyes. I’m on my computer all day long. I can’t have that.

Til Luchau:

You can’t do that. As time goes on, we have to listen to those things more. Or they’ll assert themselves in ways that force us to listen to them, those kind of symptoms. Alright, I think that is …

Whitney Lowe:

What else we got?

Til Luchau:

Well, I’ll go on. I just want to stick up for myself and for you a little bit there and to say, all of these said bipartisan idea, there’s a … We’re calling excuses and the reasons maybe we give ourselves for not taking care of ourselves, but they also I think represent something that needs attending to as well, that the fact that you actually take care of yourself, you got this bank. That sounds pretty awesome, and the sense of resilience that you could take it. Then for myself, I have too much to do. Yeah, I can be enormously productive. That’s the upside of that.

In other words, I can just say I can manage and get a lot of stuff done. The downside for myself is, of course, that then I can neglect the things that keep me healthy and happy. That’s related to my next one, which is, I’ll get to it in a minute. In other words, I’ll get to my self-care in a minute. I’ll get up out of my chair and go for that run in a minute or do my whatever, my bike ride. I got a bike here in my office. I’ll do that in a minute. I just want to finish this thing I’m working on now, because I’m almost there. I don’t want to lose my thought. That’s a loop. Once that starts, it can be hard to get out of. I look up and I’m embarrassed about how much time has passed that I’ve been saying that to myself, digital deferral looping.

Whitney Lowe:

Digital deferral, yeah, right, yeah. Just as soon as this other I get through bingeing this other Netflix episode, I’ll be able to get to it, right? Yeah. 

Til Luchau:

There’s that too, right. It’s not even something productive. Maybe it’s just like, yeah, this is just interesting to leave behind for now. I’m going to get to that in a minute. It’s deferral.

Whitney Lowe:

Yeah, right, yeah. For me, another one that I think comes up a good bit is others are more important to focus on. I’m one of those caretaker kind of people and I’m like, this leaks into the I can take it sort of thing but like, I need to go do something for somebody else first, I need to do this for the dogs, I got to take care of this for my wife, I got to do this for some friends of mine, I got to do this for a family member. Those things are other priorities that come above me. Preferencing everybody else ahead of me is often one of the things that leads to my procrastination and not getting those things done.

Til Luchau:

Well, you’re speaking as an animal owner, certainly, I’m thinking like as a parent, we know this place. There’s these times we got to take care of the beings that depend on us.

Whitney Lowe:

That’s right, yeah.

Til Luchau:

As an identity or as a habit, I can see how that would make it harder to work in the self-care there. I’m one of the beings too. I had this idea. I’m going to get a dog, Whitney. I’m going to dog search right now.

Whitney Lowe:

Alright.

Til Luchau:

Yeah. I think I’m going to name it Mai, M-A-I. That’s his first name. His middle name is going to be Self.

Whitney Lowe:

There we go.

Til Luchau:

Mai Self.

Whitney Lowe:

Mai Self, yeah.

Til Luchau:

So that I can just say, oh yeah, Mai Self needs a walk right now.

Whitney Lowe:

Yeah, but you better be careful about that.

Til Luchau:

Why?

Whitney Lowe:

Because you might be on the phone talking to them and say, yeah, I’m playing with Mai Self. Somebody maybe …

Til Luchau:

I’ll be careful with that. Thanks for the warning, Whitney.

Whitney Lowe:

Til Luchau:

Yeah, there’s a sense that dogs, for example, maybe especially, but they do become our care objects our surrogate care objects, where they really do remind us. I miss my dog because she would come and poke me with her cold nose and say, you’ve been sitting there longer than I want you to so let’s …

Whitney Lowe:

Exactly, yeah, yeah. It’s like a four-legged furry reminder of your conscience saying like, hey, haven’t walked yet today. Up and at ’em, buddy, for sure.

Til Luchau:

Yeah. The small warm animal that is our body that can … Was that Mary Oliver or somebody? Wow.

Whitney Lowe:

What else? What other excuses are there?

Til Luchau:

Yeah. We’re getting through and I only gave myself three, I got a long list, my top three. This is probably the most embarrassing one, but may be one of the deepest. It, basically, is the assumption that I make that whatever the self-care thing that I’m facing is going to be too much work or too uncomfortable. I’d rather just sit here and enjoy this, like you said, Netflix or comfort chair, or even the comfort of this task that I’m doing, that this next choice, this self-care choice, is going to be too much work or it’s going to make me uncomfortable somehow. That’s back to that procrastination thing being emotion management or pleasantness management to do something that’s comfortable and easy now than do the thing that seems hard.

Whitney Lowe:

Yeah. I’ll have to say, I mirror all of those that you’ve mentioned. I see a lot of these things happening for me too. The third one that comes up for me and again, this is one I’m not terribly proud of either, is getting into this state more and more frequently these days, I notice as I get older, of saying, oh, what the hell, it doesn’t matter. It’s like I’m getting older, it’s not going to make that much difference. Oh, if I don’t go work out today, if I don’t go do the exercise, if I don’t take a walk, yeah, that’s alright. It’s not going to make that much difference. That one’s dangerous, because that certainly leads into making everything feel less, both relevant and having meaning around that.

Til Luchau:

Let yourself go is what I can hear at the back of my mind. At the same time, I just feel like stick it up for you, Whitney. I don’t know why, but there is a kind of acceptance that comes with getting older. That’s around aging itself. There’s a way to age gracefully that does involve not letting ourselves go, but accepting the differences that come with getting older. How do you think about that in terms of, what the hell, I’m getting older anyway?

Whitney Lowe:

I think it’s important to recognize that there’s a mission behind what my life is about and who I am, and I don’t want to give that up. I have been a lot about taking care of other people my whole life. That also has to extend into myself. I have to be honest and recognize that there’s a lot of times where I, I’m not going to say abuse, but take advantage of my own self in ways that I think. Modeling, taking care of yourself is really the first step in modeling taking care of the other people and our clients and things like that.

Til Luchau:

Alright. In other words, you’re saying you could take care of yourself even as a way to take care of other people.

Whitney Lowe:

Yeah, because I think that’s certainly a way into developing that sense of compassion and what we were seeing and talking about earlier too, of just relieving the guilt that people feel about not doing things. You have to be compassionate about things just the same way that you would be talking to somebody else who’s working and struggling with their own difficulties I think.

Til Luchau:

Just thinking of something one of my friends said to me not too long ago, he said, “If I treated my wife the way I treat myself, she would have left me a long time ago.” It’s like, how can we be a better partner, a better spouse to ourselves, a better life partner of ourselves in a way?

Whitney Lowe:

It starts at home. Yeah, starts at home. What do we do? What are some things that can help that process? What do you think?

Til Luchau:

Yeah, before I get to the solution, I want to just give out the honorable mention prizes.

Whitney Lowe:

Yeah, good, okay.

Til Luchau:

Because there’s a whole lot of them. I’ll bet you have some too, Whitney, but worthy candidates that didn’t quite make the cut for top three like, I don’t know what to do for myself. That’s actually huge. Just a lack of information or a lack of being able to imagine what to do. I know it’s time for me to do something, I just didn’t think I had, don’t have in front of me. What am I going to do? Look for a yoga YouTuber. What do I do right now? That leads down another rabbit hole. Oops, I’m back on my phone. Definitely a high contender, that digital distraction and we’re up against some pretty big players in this arena namely, I guess it’s okay to mention, Apple, Facebook, Google, and every other tech company, designer social media company that has evolved the business model, involving getting us to use their devices and making them interesting and making them irresistible.

Whitney Lowe:

You don’t think they intended that, do you?

Til Luchau:

To be fair, I don’t think, honestly, they intended to have it be such a mess. A lot of them are trying to do things about it to greater or lesser extent. I think that is, I mean, when you have a metric that is based on clicks, pickups, or whatever, you’re going to get good at that and you’re going to invent algorithms that get better at that and get beyond our ability to even understand how they’re working. They do get really good at catching your interest and getting us to interact with them. We’re up against some strong competition for our motivations there.

Whitney Lowe:

Indeed, yeah. What else hits our honorable mention?

Til Luchau:

Honorable mention, it’s raining dark or cold, I don’t want to go outside.

Whitney Lowe:

That’s a good one. Yeah, do that. It’s a little bit harder to do when you live in a climate where it doesn’t get bad weather. It’s like when I was living over on the coast of Oregon, that was easy because I’m not going to have the rain and wind like I have to go out there today. Over here, it’s a little harder to pull the weather excuse.

Til Luchau:

Well, what I tell my son is like, there’s no such thing as bad weather, just bad attitude. I’ve tried to tell that to myself, but that’s a little harsh. Yours, yeah, you mentioned that one. I need to take care of other people. Here’s the one I love, I couldn’t get logged in. I gave up. I couldn’t find my link or whatever. Like the customer service kept me on hold too long, whatever. Or I don’t like being on Zoom so much. These are all valid reasons to change course and to do something else. It’s interesting to watch how in myself and in the people in our learning community how we come up against those as reasons not to do the things we actually want to do. How about you, anything else you want to stick on our honorable mention list?

Whitney Lowe:

I’d have to say, yeah, all this whole honorable mention list, I’m with you fully on all those. I can’t think of another one off the top of my head that really also we haven’t yet tapped into. I think we’ve covered a lot of those. Probably, everybody else has got a few other things that we haven’t thought of here. That certainly covers the things that are most prevalent for me. What do we do about it?

Til Luchau:

Full stage contenders up here at the Oscars for excuses, we have a full stage of award winners and runners up. What do we do about this big scene? I got some bullet points there. You and I both mentioned as we went through the conversation, but having a plan. This maybe is a summary then. Having a plan really helps me, so that I know I’m going to wake up. Before I get into my work day, I’m actually going to spend X number of minutes doing Y. I actually know what I’m going to do, and I have it ready for myself. I don’t have to go looking for that yoga YouTube, when it finally occurs to me to get off my other device.

Whitney Lowe:

Do you think having something physical like a checklist of these are the things that I need to do today. When you can see that checklist, I had a friend who used to make to-do lists of things that she had already accomplished, and then would scratch half of them off just because it looked good that you got some motivation like, yeah, I’m cranking here. I’m getting some stuff done.

Til Luchau:

Don’t get me started on checklists. We could do a whole episode on checklists. Like I said, I’m a time management, whatever it is, a fanatic.

Whitney Lowe:

Aficionado.

Til Luchau:

Yeah, right. Not to say that it’s necessarily all helpful, it’s maybe I need as much help as I can get. Checklists are awesome. Technology-enabled checklists, essentially like your step counters and the different apps that help you monitor what you’re doing is part of both having a plan. I’m going to make this many steps that day, and then knowing specifically how can I get it. Another summary point, this is maybe the biggest one, it’s catching that key moment when I could decide to do something for myself or I could defer it or delay it. It all comes down to that very moment when, okay, I could stop now. That’s the moment to do it.

Whitney Lowe:

Yeah, right. Still, we’re back at, at least to some degree, that whole issue of seizing that moment and being able to do something about it. That’s where the discipline comes in and certainly helps out.

Til Luchau:

Certainly.

Whitney Lowe:

Because you can say like, okay, here is the moment. Alright, let’s get to it.

Til Luchau:

Yeah, and breaking the good/bad thinking, knowing that it’s always a negotiation between different parts of myself, the part of myself that does want to actually enjoy getting out there for a run and the part of myself that really does want to stay here and get this project done on my screen, that they both have a point of view and that there’s a negotiation involved. It’s not like, I need to make a plan to suppress one or the other. There’s a way to let both of them live.

Whitney Lowe:

Yeah, yeah. That’s valuable. We need to I think, oftentimes get into a place of being able to … I don’t know if forgive ourselves is the right word, but cut ourselves some slack on some of those things many times.

Til Luchau:

Yeah, it’s self-friendliness. Or actual friends, the social accountability, the actual people knowing that you’re wanting to do something or doing it with you, companionship. There’s so many ways to do that both in person just to have friends and support socially. Also, there’s more and more ways to do that. Dangerously, perhaps, on our devices. There’s ways. There’s meditation apps. Where you have a group that you’re meditating with, Strava, et cetera. We should check with them about being sponsors.

Whitney Lowe:

Yeah. I don’t know Strava. I’m not familiar with it.

Til Luchau:

I don’t mean to actually give them. They did that interesting research, but I don’t mean to … I mean, for an endorsement here, but they’ve done that research on when do people quit. They’re the ones that did that. For myself, deadlines, things that helped me get past the excuses, and intermittent fasting around self-disparagement. Just saying to myself, okay, for this morning, I’m going to skip my self-criticism breakfast.

Whitney Lowe:

Okay. Now when you figure out how to do that, that’s what I want to know. How do you actually accomplish that? That’s the ultimate goal of every meditation method around, is like, how do you stop the mind? How do you stop those thoughts? Tell me when you got that secret trick.

Til Luchau:

I mean, maybe it’s  … Yeah, those secret tricks is that maybe it’s catching it, seeing when I go, you lazy whatever, sitting there in your chair. Just, oh yeah, wait a minute, I’m skipping that this morning. I can get to that later. I’m having a fast on self-disparagement right now.

Whitney Lowe:

I like that idea, yeah, fasting of self-disparagement.

Til Luchau:

Then I’m going to supplement my diet, like you said on self-friendliness, I’m going to take some supplements, dietary supplements and just going easy on myself, of not getting down on myself so much on that.

Whitney Lowe:

When you do accomplish some of those things, you should actually verbally, just the same way they tell you to actually physically smile when you’re feeling down because the muscles have a difficult time in terms of being tied to the emotions, the difficult time continuing to stay sad if you’re physically smiling with yourself. Get up and say like, alright, that was awesome. Great job there, buddy.

Til Luchau:

Demarking, celebrating technology, those kind of things. Great. Then the last one on my list, you can probably see it there on our outline, is the one you said, it comes down to just doing it. It comes down just getting out of the chair, shutting the refrigerator, finding something else, whatever it is that allows you just to do those things. That’s what it comes down to in the end.

Whitney Lowe:

Just do it. That would make an interesting marketing slogan. I wonder if anybody’s ever thought of that before.

Til Luchau:

Yes. Maybe we can take it over if they haven’t.

Whitney Lowe:

Right. Very effective they had for getting everybody motivated on that. Well, I think we’ve tackled quite a few of those things. Hopefully, we can have some different perspective on our challenges around resolutions and things that we want to have accomplished for the New Year. I’m looking forward to your …

Til Luchau:

At least enjoy your excuses more.

Whitney Lowe:

Yeah, there we go. I’m going to try …

Til Luchau:

Give yourself congratulations for making it through the podcast episode.

Whitney Lowe:

There we go. That’s the first step. Excellent job, everybody. We want to thank ABMP for their sponsorship. They are a proud sponsor of The Thinking Practitioner Podcast. All massage therapists and bodyworkers can access free ABMP resources and information on the Coronavirus and the massage profession @abmp.com/covid19, including sample release forms, PPE guides, and a special issue of massage and bodywork magazine, where both Til and I are frequent contributors there.

For more information, do please check that out on the ABMP podcast also, which is available @abmp.com/podcast, or wherever you prefer to listen on your favorite podcast apps. Thanks again to ABMP, also to Handspring and all of our other sponsors for their support of The Thinking Practitioner. You can stop by our show or site for show notes, transcripts, and other kinds of extras. You can find that information with me at academyofclinicalmassage.com. Til, where can people find you and those resources there?

Til Luchau:

Advanced-trainings.com. If you have questions or things you want to hear us talk about, it’s a new year, we got some exciting topics lined up. We want to hear yours too. We want to work them in. Email us at [email protected] Or just look for us on social media on it my name, @Tilluchau. How about you, Whitney?

Whitney Lowe:

Also, you can find me on social media there @Whitneylowe. You can follow us on Spotify, rate us on Apple podcasts, or wherever else you happen to be listening, whether it’s one of those metal cans with a string attached between it, whatever it is that you’re listening to. Tell a friend, share the news, and don’t make excuses. Go listen to the rest of The Thinking Practitioner episodes there.

Til Luchau:

If you’re going to make excuses, make them good ones and enjoy them thoroughly.

Whitney Lowe:

That sounds good. Well, we’re looking forward to a great 2021 with everyone. Look forward to diving into some great conversations with you, sir. We will see you all again in two weeks.

Til Luchau:

Okay.

 

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