Two words that have the most power to hold us back. Even more powerful than someone else saying to us, “you can’t.” Because when someone tells us this it lights a fire in us to prove them wrong. We don’t accept when someone else tells us what we can and can’t do. But when we tell ourselves that, it becomes absolute. We believe it. So we just don’t do it. Or even try. How often do we tell ourselves we can’t do something? A lot more often than we say we can do something, I’m sure. We tell ourselves:
“I can’t lose weight.”
“I can’t walk a mile.”
“I can’t run a mile.”
“I can’t give up chocolate.”
“I can’t hike up a mountain..”
“I can’t flap my arms and fly to the moon.”
Okay, that last one is a bit of a gimme. But the others? If we really want it we can achieve it. Sometimes it just seems too hard, or we have tried before and failed. So we tell ourselves “I can’t”, because it’s just easier than trying.
Or trying again.
But guess what?
“I can’t” is just the cap we put on ourselves until the day we discover we can.
Here are some of the “I can’ts” I told myself in recent months only to prove myself wrong.
“I can’t run more than one lap of this park on one of my walks.
Until the day I ran the first lap and the last lap.
“I can’t run more than two laps of this park on one of my walks.
Until after upping my walk from twelve laps to fifteen, I ran the first, fifth, tenth and last laps.
“I can’t run two laps consecutively.”
Until the day I ran the ninth and tenth laps and then went on to run the fourteenth and fifteenth laps.
“I can’t run a mile.”
Until last Thursday, when I ran my first mile. And then I did it again today.
After I posted on Facebook on Thursday about running my first mile, a friend asked me if I had any thoughts on running the New York marathon. The old me would have immediately thought “I can’t run a marathon!” But I didn’t even think that. I’m 47 years old. I might have thought I’m too old to think about running a marathon. Except I’ve read a few WordPress blogs from people in their 50’s and 60’s who are writing about their first marathons. I’m learning to stop telling myself “I can’t,” I’m realizing that “I can’t” is just a prelude to “I can.” So, why not think about running a marathon. I’m not saying I AM going to run a marathon. I’m a LONG way off being ready for that. But at least I’m not saying “I can’t.”