I Can’t. Or, Can I? by Nancy

Decision on a path small

For many years “I can’t” was my mantra. I adopted it in elementary school when teachers would tell me, “You can do this; your brother did.” Looking back to 6th grade, I see this curly blond-haired me in my blue uniform and white blouse digging in my heels, snarling and proclaiming loudly, “I can’t.” I didn’t like the pressure of living up to my older brother and not being seen as an individual. TRUTH be known, I just didn’t want to do it; and once I declared my position, I had to keep reinforcing it.

Over the years I adopted it as an easy way to cop out. I enrolled others to believe me, do it for me or maybe even feel sorry for me.

A web was cast. I was trapped in a mire of missed opportunities, withheld energy, helplessness, blame of others, inconsistent dependability, thoughtlessness, depletion of power. Living “I can’t” I didn’t want to see or take on new challenges or solve situations. I held no responsibility for the world I created; I sulked. As a professional, that posture proffered all sorts of excuses and cover-ups to conceal truth, so much so that I even bought the stories. A huge hole had been dug. I had separated myself from others and their needs by all my self-indulgence. The way out was to put down the lies I was living.

Understanding how I fell out of honest relationship to others and myself, I was freed from the burden I had cultivated. I could begin to respond honestly and responsibly in each situation.

From this perspective I am no longer trapped by my limitations, habits and weaknesses. I am not reactive. I am engaged and honest with the people in my life. I don’t hold others responsible for my shortcomings. I don’t manipulate. Instead, I step forward making choices about what is the best decision to make for the good of all. I understand and tackle what I need to learn or lean into in order to help the situation go well from trivial to major endeavors.

What would it be like to notice yourself on automatic in some variation of the “I can’t” syndrome, even when it is not spoken?

Free yourself.

I offer you an invitation to pause, remembering to clearly choose and take full responsibility for your response.

 

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