I Can't
tom walsh

   

I can't count how many times in my life I've claimed "I can't."  "I can't do this," "I can't do that," "I've tried, and I can't do it."  I do it over and over again, and I continue to do so.  I look at limitations rather than possibilities, and I freeze myself in place--I truly can't do what I'm claiming I can't do because I don't allow myself to do so.  When I've been fortunate enough to be in a position in which I've had no choice, though, the results are almost always the same--I accomplish that which I felt I couldn't do.

I find it kind of frightening, to tell you the truth, and I have to wonder how many opportunities I've missed out on because I froze myself in place with those two words:  "I can't."  I've refused even to try things because I limited myself from the very start with my own unrealistic perspective, and I've seen as impossible something that really wasn't impossible.

It's kind of humiliating to admit that most of the time when I say "I can't," I really mean "I can, but it looks like it will be a lot of hard work, and I'm not sure I want to get myself into that."  I prefer to say that it can't be done and not tackle the job rather than get myself into that much work that I may or may not be able to do well.  A good example was on our old van--I knew the spark plugs needed to be changed, but the engine placement was so strange that I couldn't even see where the plugs were.  So rather than follow the wires to the plugs, I told myself I couldn't do it because I wasn't familiar with that engine set-up.

Soon, though, I realized the job had to be done, and I went out and found that I could get to the spark plugs through the wheel wells.  It took me a lot longer to change those eight plugs than it normally would have, but I was able to do it.  There were several problems with my job, though, all of which had to do with timing.  First, I should have done the job earlier--the plugs needed to be changed, yet I put it off by psyching myself out.

Second, I had limited myself rather drastically by telling myself I couldn't do the job; it was pretty embarrassing (to myself) to find out later that it wasn't all that difficult a job.  Finally, because I had psyched myself out, we drove the van around for quite a while though I knew that it wasn't as safe or as fuel efficient as it should have been.  All because I had taken a couple of quick glances and told myself that I couldn't do it.

I try to recognize these situations when they arise now, and any time I say "I can't," I try to re-evaluate the situation.  There are many times when those two words are necessary and useful--there are jobs I'm not qualified to do, such as putting in a circuit board instead of a fuse box or fixing a plumbing back-up.  In those cases, we need a professional who's qualified to do those jobs.  There are other jobs that I simply wouldn't have the time for, and taking them on would mean that I'd neglect other things and not do anything well.

But I also know that there are things that I can do that I claim I can't simply to make my life easier or to put off an unpleasant job.  Those are the times I need to re-evaluate and say, instead of "I can't," "I can, and I'll do it as soon as I can."

  
    


 
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