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Is “Because Thinking” Stopping You from Doing, Being, and Enjoying?

By Ardith Bowman February 23, 2023 Mindset

At 73, and committed to living a life I love, I’ve been reflecting on how easy it is to let outside conditions influence the decisions we make about what we do in our lives.

How many times have you decided to not do something because of conditions around you? For example, what you think someone your age can’t or shouldn’t do, or not investing in yourself because money should be saved, or waiting for success to be guaranteed before venturing ahead.

Seeing “Because Thinking” for the Limit It Is

We all do this. For many of us, it is a habit we developed to help us make decisions. More than ever in our life, it is important to pause and decide if the decision to not do something is based on what is really true.

When we were younger, we may have postponed things we wanted to do, thinking…

  • “I need to wait until the kids are older.”
  • “I need to get my promotion first.”
  • “I’ll do it after I pay down the mortgage.”
  • “I’ll just wait until I retire (we know that one!).”

How many things that you desired did you put off and not do at all because the conditions of your life were more important? So, now it is likely that you have developed a new set of conditions that may keep you from living the full and vital life that is possible for you.

Now is the time for us to live the life we truly love, enjoy every minute, and leave the legacy we want.

My Personal Breakthrough

I had to break through my “because thinking” to discover that someone past 60 CAN learn a new sport. When I first joined a Dragon Boat team, I faced my personal dragons of not being good enough or strong enough to even be wanted on the boat. Well guess what? I am good enough!

The pain of not being happy finally moved me past the thinking that I could not start a business because I was too old. I did and I am having the best time of my life.

Why did I let this limited thinking get in the way of living fully? Because I bought into the messaging and assumptions about our age group that permeate our society. As a generation of women, we are here to change that.

Breaking the “Because Thinking” Habit

Is there something that you would love, but don’t pursue it, BECAUSE you think:

  • “I don’t have the money.”
  • “I am too old.”
  • “I’m out of shape.”
  • “I don’t have the education/training.”
  • “It would take too much energy.”
  • “New technology is difficult to learn.”
  • “I might not get to finish it.”
  • Or, the most cunning one, “I don’t want to disrupt my comfortable life.”

Any time you find yourself thinking “I shouldn’t or I can’t… because, because, BECAUSE,” press pause and interrupt that BECAUSE thinking. Is it true… really?

Here is the magic key: Change your thinking to focus on what is possible. For example:

  • What can I do to get the funds to do this?
  • Someone my age should do this and maybe I can find others.
  • What can I do to begin to get in shape?
  • I can learn whatever I need to and love doing it.
  • I’d rather be joyful and vital than comfortable and unhappy.

My Personal Breakthrough

A good example is when I retired. I thought I should have this really safe way to make money because I should not risk anything at my age. Well, looking for safety had me doing something that was not bringing me joy. I really did not enjoy my life. What I was doing had no heart, when this phase of life can be the most free and energizing time of our entire lives!

Realizing living this life with no heart was not what I wanted for my next decades, I fixed it. I asked myself what I could do that did not risk everything – and I began to build a business one step at a time. Let me confess, that what I thought was at risk really was not at all. It was just a conditioned excuse to stay safe.

Begin Your Breakthrough Today

I invite you to do the same and take that step that you have been putting off, avoiding, talking yourself out of, or whatever mechanism you choose to play safe.

Here are some ideas to get you started.

Take Your Thoughts to a Journal

Take quiet time to journal about the life that would bring you satisfaction and happiness. Think about your health and self-care, friendships and love, your contribution/work, and the time and money you have available. If a little voice tries to talk you out of an idea, tell it to keep quiet for now. If you need to, make a date with that voice on your calendar in a week or so.

Involve Your Partner

If you have a partner and they are willing, you can include them. Dreaming together is fun!

Surround Yourself with Supporters

Find others – a friend, coach, women’s group – where you can share what you envision and your journey toward it. Let others support you.

Block the Voice of Self-Doubt

Notice and interrupt the little voice in you that may be telling you why you can’t or shouldn’t. You can do this kindly. After all, it is trying to keep you safe, but you are the final authority.

Take One Step at a Time

Take one small step each day toward the part of your dream that you find most compelling.

Living with Heart Is Even More Important Now

Especially after 60, it is important that the life we are creating brings us joy, fulfillment, and a sense that we continue to matter. This is truly the time to live from our heart and not from the conditions we think are in control. You are more than your conditions.

Let’s Have a Conversation:

What have you stopped yourself from doing based on the “I can’t because” thinking? What opportunities may become truly possible in your life if you interrupt the voice of safety? Perhaps you have already challenged yourself to step beyond what you thought were your limits. Please share that story to inspire our sisters!

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6 Comments
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CarolAnn

About 15 years ago I was in a bad state and risked joining a dragon boat team – something I had never even watched! It was one of the best moves I ever made – not only did I learn I am much more capable than I give myself credit for but I met a group of women who changed my life. I have used this experience to push myself to do many other things since and I have never regretted it. It just takes the first step.

Ardith

I love this! It’s been one of the best things of my life as well. Where do you live? I wonder if we would ever compete? I’m on an all woman’s team. Let me know what team you’re on. I’m out of Portland on wasabi SOAR. Ardith

shaggy maggie

So challenging! As a planner, I hold myself back, saving money for old age. I SO wish to avoid some glum senior home…IF I live that long. Am I missing the boat?

Ardith Bowman

Hi there! Boy, even the Wall Street Journal has repeating articles about how to get ready to live to 100. We may not make it that far, but if you are healthy now, you may well live longer than you anticipate. That said, saving money is important. Believe me, I get it. Another way to look at this is us making contributions where we get paid into our 70’s and 80’s. We are the ones breaking out of the work hard/save, then play, play, play approach to life (for how many years?). Standford University especially is working to change how society/business supports aging adults and what work can look like over the extended life/health span.
Tell me one thing you are stopping yourself from doing. The world is really a “both/and” place…so there probably is a way to be who you are here to be and enjoy it. You can go off line at connect@ardithbowman.com if you want. Thanks for reading the article! Ardith

Susan

Thanks for this. I find it’s more important to be a bit brave in order to try something new. Sometimes it doesn’t work, but if you don’t step out of your comfort zone, then nothing changes. It helps in building confidence and life satisfaction.

Ardith Bowman

Great observation, Susan,
Research is showing us that doing new things helps us live longer with cognitive resilience. I say “Yes” to that! I learned to Dragon Boat at 71…and boy do I love it and my team. What have you tried? Thanks for reading…Ardith

The Author

Dr. Ardith Bowman is a teacher and coach by training and a guide by virtue of experience. Her mission is to empower our generation, age 60 and beyond, to live with fulfillment throughout life. She will walk beside you, providing unwavering support and guidance as you navigate your path into more fulfillment and vitality. Visit her at Becoming You After 60.

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