Revisiting “Can’t”

Some feedback I received regarding last week’s blog post has caused me to revisit the subject and reflect on self-perception vs. actual physical limitations.  Despite my objection to the word “can’t”, I do understand that there are times and circumstances that can prevent or alter abilities.  Sometimes these alterations are temporary.  Perhaps limitations arise due to illness or injury. These instances may represent only a brief set-back that calls for temporary suspension of familiar activities. After a period of healing we expect to resume activities at the same level as before the problem occurred.

Reality, however, doesn’t always meet expections.  Recovery can drag on interminably or, worse, start to feel permanent. This can be a huge source of frustration.  But it can also be liberating. After all, if you let go of expectations and outcomes there is no standard that you have to live up to.  You simply are what you are and you do what you can do at any given moment. This doesn’t mean giving up or not trying to improve.  It also does not mean that you should not challenge yourself on occasion. You also want to avoid letting fear of recurrence paralyze your efforts.  But it does mean that you might have to accept that whatever it is you think you should be able to do, this may not be the right moment.

So instead of saying “can’t” how about changing it to “not today” or “not right now”.  Or you might change your perspective and give yourself permission to do something differently that you used to.  You could say “not this way”.  Then you may find that this “new” way is actually not so bad.  In fact, you may even like it. As an example, as many of you know I used to run long distances.  I loved running, but in recent years have found that it no longer works for me.  So now I walk and hike. Amazingly, I’ve found that I love walking. So what seemed like an a huge loss has actually turned out to be not so terrible after all.  There is also a difference between choosing not to do something a certain way and avoiding it because of fear or lack of self-confidence.

According to my favorite mystical astrologer/philospher, Caroline Casey, whose “Visionary Activist” radio show is worth checking out, whenever you are tempted to invoke the words “always” (as in “things will always be like this”) or “never” (as in “I will never get better”) consider modifying that impulse with the phrase “until now!”  Everything is always changing all around us.  As I said in last week’s post, you never know when you will have an “aha!” moment and suddenly something elusive actually happens. The trick is to let go of expectations and just go with the flow.  It’s pointless to fight reality.  You just can’t win.  But reality is constantly changing.  What seems so difficult now could be totally different tomorrow.  And as I have so often said throughout this blog, it is so much better to focus on what you CAN do rather than what you think you can’t.  Letting go of expectations just might relax you enough to make a positive change possible.

There is no need to think of yourself as a victim.  Whatever it is that you’re going through, you haven’t been singled out. Voltaire said, “We are all formed of frailty and error.  Let us all reciprocally pardon each other’s folly.”  I would extend that sentiment to pardoning ourselves.

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