Recently I’ve had awareness how “I can’t” shows up for me. It’s in the tiniest bits of life with no great consequence attached. Some have been food related. This morning: I can’t mop up the egg yoke with brown bread already spread with marmalade. How silly. Yes I did, it was tasty, less yoke was wasted. Other times it shows up choosing what to wear. While “can’t” does not surface I recognize the under current. What is acceptable? Where is the line between casual and slovenly if I’m going to be on Zoom or have coffee dates? If I dress sharp will it set me apart? Will others think I’m, what, putting on aires? Again small potatoes. Yet, I’ve learned to pay attention to these awarenesses. I know from experience the smallest pieces are indications of bigger truths. If I notice “I can’t” choosing spices and additions for a dish I’m cooking, it is not the only place this limiting thought is active.
Growing up we are immersed in family, community, society, religion. We glean what is and is not appropriate from all of these. Shaping ourselves in order to receive love, connection, belonging. It is one of the great ironies of the world that it celebrates innovation while simultaneously demanding compliance to the status quo. As adults we’re prompted to be unique, color outside the box. This after 20 plus years indoctrination to follow the rules, stay inside the lines, if you want to succeed. One of my sons recently had a come to Jesus talk with me. I was called out for the pain caused him through music lessons. He had just wanted to play. The lessons were a spirit crushing box. We as family, community, society, religion do the best we can with the knowledge and understanding we have. And, we will get it wrong sometimes. The ability for both of us to have the discussion, hearing him out, acknowledging my part, committing to staying in the conversation, and working on how we communicate were gifts for me. Learning to live in possibility. Even in the midst of painful dialogue. Where “I can” was the influencing energy.
I recently trained on this exact language piece. It was part of the live talk radio conversation with my co-host Dr. Pat Baccili (Forging A Life: Truths in Creation of Katana; Fiery Words). We are influenced about what is and is not possible. We, also, are always at choice. The word can’t carries two energies that limit us. First, there is the finality of can’t. Remember Yoda “There is no try. There is only do.” Well “If you can’t, there is only can’t.” Not even a try. Second, can’t holds victim energy. It assumes we are not at choice, have no options, don’t have the means. It is kinda convenient. Gets me off the hook. Working with audiences I have them state or write down an “I can’t phrase” they have used. Then direct them to restate using the word won’t in place of can’t. Won’t is a choice. It points out the truth of free will and opens the floor for discussion on what thoughts and feelings come up with the shift of a single word. It is important to point out that there are almost no hard and fast rules with language. More like guidelines.
My dance with “I can’t” took a hard turn. A good friend who lives seven hours away teaches yoga via Zoom several times each week. I have committed, loosely, to joining in. I do not turn my video on. The other women in the class do. I get glimpses of them as people come on and chat until class begins. I can’t turn my video on. They are all slender in their form fitting yoga outfits, appear flexible, have large clean rooms in their posh homes where they are doing their yoga. I am in sweats over any sort of leggings or microfiber long sleeved top. My abdomen expansive. Arms too short to reach my lower calf much less a foot. I can do flat back standing strait and maintain it, bending at the hips, for a full three inches forward of center. I’m in the living room of my ranch style house with just eight feet to the ceiling. All fine justifications to not turn on the video.
I can’t. I won’t even feels okay. Choosing to hide. Play it safe. Except that is not who I believe myself to be. I am an entrepreneur, a speaker, trainer and coach. Being visible is part of the package. Showing up as I am. Standing confident in who I am lends power for me to stand with and for my clients. This, I can’t, is steeped in shame and self judgement. Deciding where-I-am-at-in-my-yoga-practice is unacceptable. Fearing my friend, a colleague I’ve worked closely with for years, will suddenly decide I’m chopped liver.
Yoga is really hard. I come face to face with how out of shape I am. It pushes me mentally as well as physically. The first few times I was in tears. Despite all that, I feel better after it’s done. Now I at least know what most of the terms mean. Have linked the words to a body position. I have also decided to turn the video on this coming week. Declaring to you, dear readers, I will do this. I encourage, welcome, you to check on me. Be an accountability partner. I am grateful for this platform and the readership that allows me to lift up others while I climb.
For Our Best Possible Selves
Coach Christine Clark