No You Can't! vs. Yes I Can!
My 7-year son and 5-year daughter were sitting at the dinner table tonight deep in the middle of conversation. My son had challenged his sister to spell her first, middle, and last name.
She replied, "I can."
Him: "So do it."
Him: "Then you don't know how."
Her: "Yes I do! I just don't want to right now."
I stepped in with motherly love before this ended in a drag-down, knock-em-out fight. In most cases, such a retort means she doesn't know how. I happen to know that she, in fact, does know how to spell her full name. I didn't bring this up. Why she didn't want to share this information with her brother at this point doesn't really matter. The thoughts that followed this conversation, do.
There are so many situations in which I feel like my daughter. Someone challenges me directly or indirectly, and my first response is, "YES I CAN!".
I don't stop to think about whether I should or actually want to.
This isn't about having the power to say No. I've gotten much better at that, turning down a volunteer opportunity at the kids' school when I'm already over-booked or declining an invite for a get-together when it would mean cramming it in between 5 other things scheduled that night. I am proudly protective of my space and my Quiet Time.
This IS about me, and you, and our entire society feeling like we need to prove something.
Especially as a woman and especially, I've found, as a work-at-home mother, I constantly feel as though I need to prove myself.
For some reason, I want it known that I can lead a meeting in an efficient and productive manner. I want to prove that I can maintain an intellectual conversation with someone constantly immersed in a professional environment. I want to show that I can pack a healthy lunch with little-to-no waste, make Martha Stewart proud with 30 adorable snacks for the kids' classmates, and run 13.1 miles without stopping, all while maintaining a successful online business and having oodles of time to create with wild passion in my studio.
When I'm not doing one part of this, I hear the little voice behind me scoffing,
"Yeah. You can't do it."
YES I CAN! I can do it all! Isn't that what we've been taught? If you want something badly enough, you'll find a way to make it happen.
(If this sounds familiar, I'll admit to having written about this before. Obviously I feel strongly about it. If it sounds familiar but you don't remember the post...perhaps we are alike in more ways than we know.)
I remember a call I made, many years ago, to a life coach offering a free 20-minute introductory session. His fees were far beyond what I could afford at that point, so while I was grateful for the session, I didn't want to lead him on. I acknowledged at the beginning of the call my gratitude but inability to pay for further sessions. His reply? That I was blocking my own progression. That the attitude that I didn't have enough meant I never would. That if I really wanted it, I'd find a way to make it happen.
Needless to say, that call didn't go well.
Sometimes, we just don't feel like doing something we otherwise know how (or have the ability) to do.
Sometimes, we honestly cannot do it (or do not know how) at that point.
Sometimes, we want to, we know how to, but it simply doesn't align with our deeper truth or the practical aspects of our lives.
Regardless, simply believing that we can and thus should is a terribly harmful belief.
Perhaps instead of thinking about what we might gain by chasing it all, think about what is sacrificed in the process.
In proving that we can afford the session, spell our name, run the race, get the promotion, collect the followers, achieve the goal...we sacrifice what many of us are trying to achieve in the first place:
Happiness. An ease-paced life. Living debt-free. Inner serenity. Intuitive guidance. Heart-connected companionship. Space and time just to be without worrying about what needs to be done.
When we try to prove ourselves, we fill in the blanks in someone else's story. Think about it: We already know we can or can't. We already know we want to or don't. We know what aligns with our calling. We have enough to do in remembering our own story. Why worry about correcting someone else's?
What are you sacrificing in your pursuits? What are you denying yourself in order to accomplish those goals? What truths of your own are you ignoring in order to satisfy someone else's?
When we are called to prove something, we are invited to an awareness. We are given an opportunity to look within ourselves and acknowledge our own beliefs and abilities - and asked to express those. This might mean replying to the request for proof; it might mean denying it. Either way, we can be grateful.
Next time that voice arises that says, No you can't - whether it is coming from outside or inside - might I recommend just trying out a different course of action.
Don't reply with, Of course I can.
Don't stick out your tongue.
Just smile and say thank you.