Don't Talk Yourself out of Embracing Life


BY ARDITH BOWMAN First published in SixtyandMe MARCH 19, 2024 MINDSET

Have you ever wanted to try something new or make some kind of change in your life and then not follow through? We all do it! Yet, not following through can detract from us living the full and happy life we imagine, deserve and that can support healthy aging.

Maybe there is an activity you want to learn, such as pickleball or painting, and you never get beyond considering it… then feel yearning when you see someone else doing it. Or perhaps you want to write or get involved with a community group – then take no action.

Comfort Is Easier

Most of us are attached to the status quo, where life is safe, known, and easier. That is a holdover from our ancestors, where change could be life threatening. So, it is natural. Here is an article from several years ago that discusses the draw of comfort.

We humans tend to use three ways to remain stuck and not move toward what we want. Each has a fundamental mindset underpinning it that is especially true for women.

  • We talk ourselves out of it.
  • We let routine life be more important.
  • We fear that our life may spin out of control in some way if we move ahead.

This is the first of three articles examining each of these areas. I invite you to consider the ways you tend to hold yourself back. For me, I use the routine life being more important  – I completed several chores as I procrastinated from writing this morning!

Sometimes, if what I want to do for my life is significant, I may find myself resisting because I fear not knowing the way my life might change. For example, I lived several years not willing to commit to the idea of having a life partner again. My life transformed when I finally made the commitment! I am so grateful I kept working on my thoughts to clear the way. Real commitment made all the difference. It is the key.

Ken Blanchard advises that, “There’s a difference between interest and commitment. When you’re interested in doing something, you do it only when it’s convenient. When you’re committed to something, you accept no excuses – only results.”

Talk Yourself Out of It

Let’s explore the first way we stop ourselves from moving toward what we want – our internal voice advocating against it. The mindset underpinning this is feeling we don’t deserve happiness. Part of our life is spent living for the happiness of others first. We question focus on our own happiness. So, it is easy for us to find reasons not to do something we desire. We may find ourselves thinking that the effort will not be worth the reward. Life is good right now, right?

If this is what you catch yourself thinking, write down the rewards associated with what you yearn for – all of them. Then imagine yourself experiencing them. For example, if you want to join a pickleball group, imagine the fullness you will feel from being part of a group, having fun as well as your improved fitness and happiness. What is the first small step? Perhaps find a friend who is also interested?

You might read Jen Bouden’s book, Why Bother? She says that this is the most important question you will ever ask yourself. She has a variety of inspiring examples of the difference ‘bothering” can make in life.  My Focus on Fulfillment process is designed to support you as you clarify and begin to move into living the life you want.


Feeling like we don’t really deserve to be happy and fulfilled is more common than you might realize. It is learned thinking. Does it seem strange to you that many of us may not believe we are worthy of happiness and receiving what we want? I have never said to myself directly that I am not worthy of something. Still, I have acted like it! Have you?

It is common to be taught that we must earn our way into happiness. In our pickleball example, you might think you need to lose 10 pounds or be able to walk five miles before you deserve to begin. That is a form of talking yourself out of it. It is like placing roadblocks on your own road. When you notice yourself doing this, decide to just begin and what you need to do or be will unfold.

Sadly, in our society, women receive messages that we are not worthy – worthy to be seen, heard or respected. Happily, this is gradually changing. Still, we are of a generation where such messages were more common. We carry those messages in us now. The sense of unworthiness makes it easy for us to talk ourselves out of stepping forward and creating what we want.

Belief in Our Capabilities

Some of our hesitation to act can be related to our belief in our own capabilities, so we settle for less. If we fail to do something well, we often think it is because of a flaw in us rather than simply not fully knowing how yet.

Men tend not to do this; feeling flawed does not serve them. It is well documented that women often have lower expectations of themselves than men, so not acting is a way of self-protection. We also can have lower expectations of other women! So, be sure to note your thoughts if you have a friend who is trying something new or difficult. Step up and support her; it feels wonderful.

Internalized Ageism

Finally, notice your internal dialogue about what is ‘normal’ for someone your age. There is no normal! Women are starting businesses in their 70s, running and doing yoga in their 90s – even riding Harleys across the country at 100! Agreed, these women may be exceptional… or maybe not. Here is an article that introduces you to women living life fully at 60 and well-beyond.

The point is for you to do what is in your heart; age has little to do with it. Do what you desire with what you have, however that looks.

Next time, we will explore the diversion of routine holding us back from fully living the lives we truly desire.

What Are Your Thoughts?

Is there something you have been thinking about learning or doing? Notice what thoughts enter your mind. I am considering writing a book. Naturally, I hear a litany of reasons not to do it – it takes too much time, I don’t really know how, who would read it and more! I will find my moment of commitment, and it will happen. What about you?

Let’s Have a Conversation:

Have you ever talked yourself out of what you want to do? How do you move ahead anyway? Do you have any resources to share that help you stay motivated and uplift you?


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