"I can't" actually means "I won't" - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 107 Old 07-08-2010, 12:59 PM - Thread Starter
 
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You self-imposed any limitations you have, no one else. And you are the only one who can remove that limitation or barrier. When you say "I can't do something" what you are actually saying is "I won't do something" or "I have resistance to doing this"
ETA:
This is not a judgment on the situation that anyone else is in. Another words, it is not meant like the drill sergeant yelling at a new recruit or Jillian Michaels yelling at a Biggest Loser contestant to just get up when one has fallen down. I posted this out of a spontaneous passion to share a new-found source of empowerment. It is part of a broader outlook not of mere postive thinking or Law of Attraction, but that you and I are limitless and are under the illusion that we are separate and limited beings. Is that some kind of smart marketing catch phrase? Who cares? You check for truth by having to experience it for yourself in the moment rather than apply it to some ephemeral situation that hasn't arisen or a hypothetical person in a hypothetical situation. Your first priority is YOU and what your are feeling and thinking in any given moment. So when you find yourself in a moment saying "I can't" try just turning it around and asking yourself, is that really true?
One more thing. Many people are facing a daunting or tragic problem, maybe b/c of health, maybe b/c of money. But sometimes, the first priority is not placing the "I can't" on the said problem but tracking back to another place, a place of weakness and limitation, and error in thinking. Again, I'm not judging anyone else to be weak. We are all here to learn. Experience this for yourself.
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#2 of 107 Old 07-08-2010, 01:44 PM
 
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"I don't want to" or "I choose not to"

I tend to agree with you. What made you decide to post that?
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#3 of 107 Old 07-08-2010, 02:21 PM
 
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I'll never forget dh's turning point with his parents. At one point they had asked him for money at a very bad time for use to be "loaning" (ahem, giving) money away. We were weeks away from having our first baby, my maternity leave and buying a house. He told his dad "I can't" and his dad asked "You can't, or you won't??" When dh told him the answer was "both" it made dh realize how it was never going to end, it would never be enough and they would always expect him to give more to them, than to himself and his family. So his can't quickly turned into a won't.

So can't and won't can sometimes be the same thing.
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#4 of 107 Old 07-08-2010, 02:44 PM
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Originally Posted by mommyshoppinghabit View Post
You self-imposed any limitations you have, no one else. And you are the only one who can remove that limitation or barrier. When you say "I can't do something" what you are actually saying is "I won't do something" or "I have resistance to doing this"
Well, with a lot of things, this is true. But there are actual physical limitations, yk? As in, "I can't climb Mt. Everest" means that I really, in fact, would not be able to, physically.

"Our task is not to see the future, but to enable it."
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#5 of 107 Old 07-08-2010, 03:21 PM
 
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Well, with a lot of things, this is true. But there are actual physical limitations, yk? As in, "I can't climb Mt. Everest" means that I really, in fact, would not be able to, physically.
Or it means that you just don't have enough drive or desire or creativity to do it. If you really wanted to be at the top of Mt. Everest, you would find a way to make it happen, no matter how you got there. Hire expert mountain climbers to carry you up to the top, if need be, or die in the process of trying. If you really wanted to, you'd do whatever it took to make it happen.

If you died trying, well, I would agree with you. "Can't" was the right word. But by the time you're in the ground, I guess it doesn't really matter anymore, does it?
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#6 of 107 Old 07-08-2010, 03:36 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Originally Posted by Kivgaen View Post
"I don't want to" or "I choose not to"

I tend to agree with you. What made you decide to post that?
I'm going to these "coaching" sessions b/c I want to start working again. The coach/therapist/whatever you wanna call her said this to me.
It's incredibly liberating, at least to me, to know this.
In a spiritual sense, we are all unlimited beings. The limitations were created by the mind, and we remember the moment we created them, either consciously, or subconsciously.
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#7 of 107 Old 07-08-2010, 06:04 PM
 
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Originally Posted by Kivgaen View Post
Or it means that you just don't have enough drive or desire or creativity to do it. If you really wanted to be at the top of Mt. Everest, you would find a way to make it happen, no matter how you got there. Hire expert mountain climbers to carry you up to the top, if need be, or die in the process of trying. If you really wanted to, you'd do whatever it took to make it happen.

If you died trying, well, I would agree with you. "Can't" was the right word. But by the time you're in the ground, I guess it doesn't really matter anymore, does it?
I know what you mean and I sort of agree. I think the danger is that having this much 'choice'- I can do anything! -can be overwhelming, especially for literal-minded folk like me. Sure, I can do anything. Should I do it all?? If you're impulsive it can be easy to forget that choices have consequences: If I commit to doing this, I won't have time to do that. So for the sake of my sanity it's easier to put a lot of things in the category of 'Can't Do'.

But Mommyshoppinghabit, I completely agree with your coach. I'm trying to psych myself up to re-enter the world of employment, and I had that same epiphany recently! It's a mind-bender. From this point of view it becomes clearer to me what my real stumbling blocks are.

Someone moved my effing cheese.
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#8 of 107 Old 07-08-2010, 09:30 PM
 
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Or it means that you just don't have enough drive or desire or creativity to do it. If you really wanted to be at the top of Mt. Everest, you would find a way to make it happen, no matter how you got there. Hire expert mountain climbers to carry you up to the top, if need be, or die in the process of trying. If you really wanted to, you'd do whatever it took to make it happen.
I get what you're saying, but the poster you're replying to didn't use "I can't get on top of Everest" as her example. She used "I can't climb Everest". Having someone else carry you up to the top isn't the same thing as climbing.

That said...I have huge issues with this whole topic, because of high school. I can almost feel my blood pressure flare up when I see a thread like this. I do think it's important to keep in mind that we all have far fewer limitations than we believe ourselves to have, which is part of what I got from your OP. But, I don't agree with the phrasing that "I can't" means "I won't". For one thing, depending on the particular goal, "I can't" is absolutely accurate about some things. (As an example, there is no way I could win an Olympic medal in sprinting, or any other running related sport.) For another, "I can't" is a form of verbal shorthand (a legitimate one, imo) for "the obstacles I would have to overcome are immense, overwhelming and likely to cause extreme negative consequences for my life". Yes - that's really a "won't", but I have no issue with "can't" in that circumstance.

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#9 of 107 Old 07-08-2010, 11:18 PM
 
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I get what you're saying, but the poster you're replying to didn't use "I can't get on top of Everest" as her example. She used "I can't climb Everest". Having someone else carry you up to the top isn't the same thing as climbing.
You've touched on something very important in your post without even realizing it.

I recognize that I changed "I can't climb Mr. Everest" to "but I *CAN* get to the top of it"... I did that deliberately, actually.

You're right, there are some things that we just won't be able to do, no matter how hard we're trying. But then, if we really stop to think about it. What is it that we REALLY want?

For example -- I was listening to this motivational speaker's lecture (he had a brain tumor with 1 year to live, and lived life to the fullest until his final days). One of his "goals" in life was to go in space. No matter how hard he tried, he couldn't ever become an astronaut to get in space. Instead of getting discouraged and giving up on his dream, he thought about it again. What is it that he REALLY wanted to experience? He realized that he actually just wanted to know what zero gravity felt like! So he changed his goal. Instead of trying to be an astronaut, he made his new goal to get up in one of those planes that they used to tape Apolo 13, where there is a 30 second - a minute of a feeling of weightlessness. And he had to go over a lot of brick walls in order to get there, but in the end, he achieved that goal before he died!
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#10 of 107 Old 07-09-2010, 12:57 AM
 
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The story of your motivational speaker is great - but he couldn't be an astronaut. As it turned out that what he really wanted was to experience zero-gee, the "I can't" thing didn't really apply...except that...he couldn't. If he'd thought about it again and realized that what he really wanted was still to go into space, then...he couldn't.

One of the few things I wanted out of life was to give birth, vaginally. I couldn't do that. People can phrase it as "I won't" all they want. I couldn't. (And, yeah - I'll qualify that - I probably couldn't, and I couldn't, without potentially losing my husband and my kids...and maybe holding the corpse of a second child. None of those are insurmountable...but they're pretty serious obstacles, yk? I'm okay with calling that "can't".) I gave up, and settled for having my four living children...but that doesn't mean I "could" achieve my goal - it meant I had to give up and change my goals.

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#11 of 107 Old 07-09-2010, 10:13 AM
 
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No flames--but I can't ever be good enough for God--but someone else was so I'm cool with that

I tell my kids/hubby/work also, "I can't be at two places at once!"
Unless I'm dead and you separate the ashes--so maybe I just won't be at two places at once. Funny thread once you figure out all the things you have to go through to make it a won't instead of a can't.

Crunchy con wife with 1 DS and 1 lil DD born in Jan. I love breastfeeding, CDing and Friday night family bed.
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#12 of 107 Old 07-09-2010, 10:43 AM
 
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You self-imposed any limitations you have, no one else. And you are the only one who can remove that limitation or barrier. When you say "I can't do something" what you are actually saying is "I won't do something" or "I have resistance to doing this"
It may, or it may not.

Other than complete miracle, I can't have any more children. This has nothing to do with having resistance to, or that I "won't". It's not within my control.

It's one thing if you want to take a suggestion like the therapist gave and use it as a way to open up your own mind to more possibilities, it's a whole thing to assign such assumption and definition to other peoples statements.
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#13 of 107 Old 07-09-2010, 12:00 PM
 
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i can't control others' behavior, only my response to their behavior.
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#14 of 107 Old 07-09-2010, 01:37 PM
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I get what you're saying, but the poster you're replying to didn't use "I can't get on top of Everest" as her example. She used "I can't climb Everest". Having someone else carry you up to the top isn't the same thing as climbing.

That said...I have huge issues with this whole topic, because of high school. I can almost feel my blood pressure flare up when I see a thread like this. I do think it's important to keep in mind that we all have far fewer limitations than we believe ourselves to have, which is part of what I got from your OP. But, I don't agree with the phrasing that "I can't" means "I won't". For one thing, depending on the particular goal, "I can't" is absolutely accurate about some things. (As an example, there is no way I could win an Olympic medal in sprinting, or any other running related sport.) For another, "I can't" is a form of verbal shorthand (a legitimate one, imo) for "the obstacles I would have to overcome are immense, overwhelming and likely to cause extreme negative consequences for my life". Yes - that's really a "won't", but I have no issue with "can't" in that circumstance.


Well said.

"Our task is not to see the future, but to enable it."
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#15 of 107 Old 07-09-2010, 01:38 PM
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It's one thing if you want to take a suggestion like the therapist gave and use it as a way to open up your own mind to more possibilities, it's a whole thing to assign such assumption and definition to other peoples statements.

"Our task is not to see the future, but to enable it."
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#16 of 107 Old 07-09-2010, 01:42 PM
 
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It's one thing if you want to take a suggestion like the therapist gave and use it as a way to open up your own mind to more possibilities, it's a whole thing to assign such assumption and definition to other peoples statements.
It's very judgmental to assign it to other people's statements.

When I was in AA, I learned that it didn't matter if someone said "I can't" or "I won't" to a suggestion or a solution. If they say "I can't," they can't do it. It's not happening. I may not understand why they can't, because I can't see the whole of their experience. If their answer comes out of fear, I need to respect that their fear is a real thing for them, and is as much of a barrier as a broken leg. If "I can't" is someone's answer to a solution that I offered, I need to respect that the solution I offered might be "a" solution, but it's not "the" solution, and more importantly, it's not <i><b>their</i></b> solution.
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#17 of 107 Old 07-09-2010, 01:46 PM
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Hire expert mountain climbers to carry you up to the top,
Which, as Storm Bride pointed out, wouldn't be actually climbing. And could very easily result in the deaths of those carrying me (sherpas have died carrying others up Everest). Your theory only works if one is Machiavellian ...........the end justifies the means.

"Our task is not to see the future, but to enable it."
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#18 of 107 Old 07-09-2010, 02:01 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I think the danger is that having this much 'choice'- I can do anything! -can be overwhelming, especially for literal-minded folk like me. Sure, I can do anything. Should I do it all??
There really isn't anything one needs to do just because one should do it. A 'should' is something you impose on yourself or you think someone else is imposing on you. "I 'should' become a better person," I once thought to myself. That created all kinds of internal conflict and therefore cancelled out whatever motivation it gave me.
How do I know that I don't need to do something, like for instance climb Mt. Everest? Because the only thing you really need to do is deal with this very moment. And I mean millisecond by millisecond. What is happening within you (emotions, thoughts) and then secondly handling what is happening in the outside situation. The real Mt. Everest is irrelevant to most of us, but we all have our internal Mt. Everests to surmount, or else we wouldn't be here, or we'd be the Dalai Lama.
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If you're impulsive it can be easy to forget that choices have consequences: If I commit to doing this, I won't have time to do that. So for the sake of my sanity it's easier to put a lot of things in the category of 'Can't Do'.
Or rather put them in the category of "Choosing not to do" or "Not a Priority"


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That said...I have huge issues with this whole topic, because of high school. I can almost feel my blood pressure flare up when I see a thread like this.
I mean this with love, not disrespect:
Then you have some anger to let go of. Harboring anger never serves you, it only drags you down.

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I don't agree with the phrasing that "I can't" means "I won't". For one thing, depending on the particular goal, "I can't" is absolutely accurate about some things. (As an example, there is no way I could win an Olympic medal in sprinting, or any other running related sport.)
Well, in this moment you and I both choose to identify ourselves as non-athletes. Choosing an identification and a persona for ourselves was a choice we made maybe in our teens, maybe in early childhood, maybe even in the womb. It's the identification that we are this kind of person or that kind of person that puts the obstacle in our way from achieving certain things that are generally accomplished by other types of people. And furthermore, not to get too metaphysical here (but this is a scientific fact) you are not the same person from second to second and neither am I. The atoms which comprise our body are constantly in flux, being exchanged with those from the air around us. Cells die, new ones are generated. There is no constant and static "me" or "you"
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For another, "I can't" is a form of verbal shorthand (a legitimate one, imo) for "the obstacles I would have to overcome are immense, overwhelming and likely to cause extreme negative consequences for my life". Yes - that's really a "won't", but I have no issue with "can't" in that circumstance.
Ok. But do you see that when you say "I can't" there is passivity about it, like you are the victim of circumstance, but when you say "I won't" or "I'm choosing not to" you then take ownership. You are empowered.


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The story of your motivational speaker is great - but he couldn't be an astronaut. As it turned out that what he really wanted was to experience zero-gee, the "I can't" thing didn't really apply...except that...he couldn't. If he'd thought about it again and realized that what he really wanted was still to go into space, then...he couldn't.
If there is a goal that seemingly "can't" be accomplished then that person has not let go enough of his internal blocks. When you let go enough you will be clear as to how to accomplish that goal or be clear that it's not something you really wanted anyway.


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No flames--but I can't ever be good enough for God--but someone else was so I'm cool with that

I tell my kids/hubby/work also, "I can't be at two places at once!"
Unless I'm dead and you separate the ashes--so maybe I just won't be at two places at once. Funny thread once you figure out all the things you have to go through to make it a won't instead of a can't.
The truth requires us to take what we think we know and shake it out of our heads and turn everything upside down. Wouldn't you agree that there's a lot of screwed up stuff happening in the world? Could it be that we are just not looking at all the problems in the right way? And I say this not as a dig but just as a question: If you knew that your are every bit as good as you needed to be and that you had the power within you to face any challenge without an external force, such as God, what would you do differently in your life?

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It may, or it may not.
Other than complete miracle, I can't have any more children. This has nothing to do with having resistance to, or that I "won't". It's not within my control.
Miracles happen everyday. We may not hear about them most of the time. The miracle would not be that all of a sudden you were able to conceive. The miracle would be a shift in your perspective.

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It's one thing if you want to take a suggestion like the therapist gave and use it as a way to open up your own mind to more possibilities, it's a whole thing to assign such assumption and definition to other peoples statements.
Honey, we are all the same. Just the covering is different. We share a collective world, we share a collective mind.

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i can't control others' behavior, only my response to their behavior.
You can control only that which you let go of wanting to control. Another doozy for the mind.
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#19 of 107 Old 07-09-2010, 02:39 PM
 
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I feel like someone is about to start trying to sell me some tapes on late night tv.

I hear a lot of buzzwords and talk, but it's just talk. Saying something doesn't make it true.
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#20 of 107 Old 07-09-2010, 02:48 PM - Thread Starter
 
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You don't have to believe me. Nothing counts but experience.
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#21 of 107 Old 07-09-2010, 02:51 PM
 
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Honey, we are all the same. Just the covering is different. We share a collective world, we share a collective mind.


I don't agree, we obviously are looking at this for completely different paradigms.
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#22 of 107 Old 07-09-2010, 02:53 PM
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I think it's more accurate (and more motivational, actually) to say:

"Whether you think you can, or think you cannot, you are right."



Because if you think you can't do something, then you can't. Whether there's some form of "won't" in there or not, it's still "can't."

"Our task is not to see the future, but to enable it."
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#23 of 107 Old 07-09-2010, 02:54 PM
 
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I feel like someone is about to start trying to sell me some tapes on late night tv.

I hear a lot of buzzwords and talk, but it's just talk. Saying something doesn't make it true.
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#24 of 107 Old 07-09-2010, 03:09 PM
 
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This is one of those things my mom would say to me that would drive me nuts. Like, you can choose to be happy. Like I could just flip a switch and instantly be in a good mood. I know these are not related, but just another "phrase" that bugs me!

                                       DS 7 ~ DS 3

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#25 of 107 Old 07-09-2010, 03:20 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Like, you can choose to be happy. Like I could just flip a switch and instantly be in a good mood.
Not to be even more annoying, but actually you can choose to be happy, or at least peaceful (which is a little better than happy IMO) rather than in a crappy mood.
And DH used to always tell me to "change my mood" whenever he and I were fighting, or "switch your attitude" which really hit a raw nerve and would set me off. Lately though, we start arguing and three seconds later, one of us goes "Your in your story too much" and the argument dissipates.
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#26 of 107 Old 07-09-2010, 03:21 PM
 
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I mean this with love, not disrespect:
Then you have some anger to let go of. Harboring anger never serves you, it only drags you down.
Yes. I do have anger. I've been workign on it/with it for a long time. It's better than it was, but I, like most people, still have triggers.

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Well, in this moment you and I both choose to identify ourselves as non-athletes. Choosing an identification and a persona for ourselves was a choice we made maybe in our teens, maybe in early childhood, maybe even in the womb. It's the identification that we are this kind of person or that kind of person that puts the obstacle in our way from achieving certain things that are generally accomplished by other types of people. And furthermore, not to get too metaphysical here (but this is a scientific fact) you are not the same person from second to second and neither am I. The atoms which comprise our body are constantly in flux, being exchanged with those from the air around us. Cells die, new ones are generated. There is no constant and static "me" or "you"
I am not an athlete - not at all. I'm tense, not limber (when I was doing 45-60 minutes of daily yoga, I managed to reach a level of flexibility approaching that of most people I knew who didn't do any of that kind of work), built for stamina, not for speed, and not terribly coordinated. I have feet that don't fit in most shoes. Most athletic pursuits are uncomfortable for me, if not outright painful. However, since my last post about this resulted in the above post re: choices I made in the womb and/or childhood, let's try something a little more concrete:

I don't have depth perception. I used to go nuts in phys ed, when teachers would say, "keep your eye on the ball - keep your eye on the ball". I couldn't hit it, no matter how hard I tried. I kept my eye on the ball, and it made no difference at all. I didn't even realize until years later that the reason it didn't help is because I don't have binocular vision, and keeping my eyes on the ball gave me no useful information about how fast it was moving or how close it was to my bat. I can't recall ever hitting it - not once. Now, I don't happen to care, because I have no real desire to play softball/baseball. But, to assert that "I can't" means "I won't" if I say "I can't be a major league baseball player" is ridiculous.

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Ok. But do you see that when you say "I can't" there is passivity about it, like you are the victim of circumstance, but when you say "I won't" or "I'm choosing not to" you then take ownership. You are empowered.
umm...no, I don't see that. Saying "I won't try again to have a vaginal birth because that would involve CPS in my life, and I might lose my kids" doesn't make me feel empowered at all. While I don't like self-identifying as a victim, there are times when we're all victims of circumstance. (And, quite honestly, my choices probably did kill my son - that doesn't make me feel "empowered", either.)

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If there is a goal that seemingly "can't" be accomplished then that person has not let go enough of his internal blocks. When you let go enough you will be clear as to how to accomplish that goal or be clear that it's not something you really wanted anyway.
That sounds great. However, it boils down to "if I can't do it, I'll just decide I didn't want to". Reframing. Reframing is a very useful tool - but it's not the same thing as suggesting that "I can't" isn't real.

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The truth requires us to take what we think we know and shake it out of our heads and turn everything upside down. Wouldn't you agree that there's a lot of screwed up stuff happening in the world? Could it be that we are just not looking at all the problems in the right way? And I say this not as a dig but just as a question: If you knew that your are every bit as good as you needed to be and that you had the power within you to face any challenge without an external force, such as God, what would you do differently in your life?

Miracles happen everyday. We may not hear about them most of the time. The miracle would not be that all of a sudden you were able to conceive. The miracle would be a shift in your perspective.
With respect to all the effed-up stuff that happens in the world, this particular post just reeks of "first world/new world" privilege. Suggesting that "I can't" isn't real is a pretty major slap in the face to people who live in places where they can't feed their children, or get water, or learn to read. Miracles happen every day, yes. So do tragedies.

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#27 of 107 Old 07-09-2010, 03:24 PM
 
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Originally Posted by NiteNicole View Post
I feel like someone is about to start trying to sell me some tapes on late night tv.

I hear a lot of buzzwords and talk, but it's just talk. Saying something doesn't make it true.

thank you!

I was going to write something mean like "well, someone's all fired up from hearing a motivational speaker" but yours is much better.

mom to Andrew   born Feb 6th, already a mom to child with fur; and still missing and still wondering about the lost possibilities Mar 17, 2009
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#28 of 107 Old 07-09-2010, 03:26 PM
 
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It's very judgmental to assign it to other people's statements.

When I was in AA, I learned that it didn't matter if someone said "I can't" or "I won't" to a suggestion or a solution. If they say "I can't," they can't do it. It's not happening. I may not understand why they can't, because I can't see the whole of their experience. If their answer comes out of fear, I need to respect that their fear is a real thing for them, and is as much of a barrier as a broken leg. If "I can't" is someone's answer to a solution that I offered, I need to respect that the solution I offered might be "a" solution, but it's not "the" solution, and more importantly, it's not <i><b>their</i></b> solution.
This.
I don't choose the things I'm afraid of. I choose - to some degree - how I react to them, but I didn't choose to be afraid of them. There are things that frighten me far too much for them to be viable options for me. They are, technically, "won't"s...but they're also "can't"s. At some point, the obstacles are just too high.

And, one limitation that exists for a lot of people is lack of knowledge. In order to do something, one has to know how to do it. If one doesn't even know where to look to find that out (or has no access to a source of information at all), they're stuck at the starting line.

Lisa, lucky mama of Kelly (3/93) ribboncesarean.gif, Emma (5/03) ribboncesarean.gif, Evan (7/05) ribboncesarean.gif, & Jenna (6/09) ribboncesarean.gif
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#29 of 107 Old 07-09-2010, 03:33 PM
 
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Originally Posted by Storm Bride View Post
Suggesting that "I can't" isn't real is a pretty major slap in the face to people who live in places where they can't feed their children, or get water, or learn to read. Miracles happen every day, yes. So do tragedies.
Word.

Empty-nesting SAHM to DS1 (1989), DS2 (1992), an underachieving Bernese Mountain Dog (2006-2014), and an overachieving mother (1930).  Married to DH since 1986.
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#30 of 107 Old 07-09-2010, 03:36 PM - Thread Starter
 
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thank you!

I was going to write something mean like "well, someone's all fired up from hearing a motivational speaker" but yours is much better.
Wow, what are u guys so afraid of?
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