Who Says I Can’t ?

If we hear something often enough, we not only begin to believe it to be true, we come to accept it as-is.


When our children are little, we tell them they can do it, they can scoot or crawl from one spot to another. We tell them they can take that step without holding on or sitting down to crawl. Do they believe what we say so much so that they just do it? Or do they believe in what we say just enough to actually try it?


Trying new things is so much easier when someone is telling us we can do it, when we have supporters and encouragers we tend to attempt new things.  This can also be bad, as in the problem with peer pressure. It can be good in getting us to step outside our comfort zone and experience things we may not be familiar with, or even have a fear of.


Now step to the other side. Someone tells us repeatedly we cannot do something. Do they actually know we cannot do it? How do they know? I mean, did they see us try something we can’t remember trying and see us fail, so now they know we cannot do it? Sounds silly, right?


And why do we put so much value into what someone else might say to or about us? Shouldn’t we be our own best judges? (Unfortunately, most of the time we are our own worst judges.) 

I experienced something today to make me ponder this very thing.  Something that I was told I couldn’t do, back many years ago, and probably way more times than just once. I had never done it, so how did he know I couldn’t do it? And if I did try and fail, what was wrong with that? And if I did try and succeed, who would that hurt?  


And to top it off, after listening to and believing the “can’t” for so long, is it possible to overcome that? Can we turn the “can’t” into a “can,” and if so, how do we do that? Unfortunately, it takes more than a person telling us we can. That one can does not erase or even put a dent in the many cannots. And in my case, I have developed fears of trying things I “can’t” do. For instance, I have a fear of learning to ski. The fear is not of not being able to ski, but of getting hurt trying. There is a reason most people take lessons to learn things at a young age. We have less fears, and we don’t know enough to be afraid. I made sure all 3 of my kids took ski lessons while they were still kids. I wanted them to at least be exposed to skiing and snowboarding before they developed fears that would prohibit them from wanting to learn. Now whether they enjoyed it was up to them, but at least they learned. I took my first ski lesson at the same time my oldest took his first lesson. By the end of the first day, he was skiing down blue runs, and I was still terrified and hating life on the bunny hill!


So now fast forward many more years, and I am participating in something I love the idea of. You see, my sister and her family, including her kids, have always enjoyed and participated in off-road riding, dirt bikes, quads, pilots, rzrs, etc. My nephew raced on the tiniest dirt bike I had ever seen. Tiny, because he was so tiny; I think he was 5 at the time.  By the time my niece was 13 or so, she could out ride most boys on a quad. You see, they were exposed to and participating in riding from a very, very young age.


I was not exposed to riding as a child, so I began as an adult, and that in turn made my children older when I gave them the opportunity to ride. My oldest took to it right away and still loves it to this day. My middle one had the least available time to participate, so he can ride, but it isn’t his favorite. My daughter was well on her way to following in my niece’s footsteps. She was quite a rider, and loved it. Until…yes, you guessed it.


Someone told her she can’t, she shouldn’t. Why would anyone rob someone of something they liked, something they are good at?


I am currently out in the middle of the sand dunes on a 5 day camping and riding trip. I am with some of the people I love the most, family and friends. Certain things on rides just scare me. I fear what might happen.  So as I am lovingly harassed about my fears, I try to explain and rationalize my fears. I am asked, “What are you afraid of?” “Why do you think you can’t?” Both very good questions, loaded questions, and oh so very difficult to answer.


I have never experienced what I am afraid of, so what makes me think I will experience it? But at one point, I was told I couldn’t, and that has controlled me ever since. As much as I would like to not be afraid, I am.  Each ride I go a little further and experience a little more. So perhaps one day I will finally realize not that I can, but that I did!!


So again I ask, why is it so easy to believe what someone else says to or about us? And what can we do to ignore or overcome?


How have you redirected or retrained your mind when it comes to something someone once told you? What advice do you have for others?