What are you capable of? Do you really know? Or do you sometimes sell yourself short?
Do you ever hear yourself saying things like:
- “I could never do that”
- “I could never squat that”
- “I could never look like that”
- “I could never climb that”
- “I could never eat like that”
- “I could never _________”
I understand. That’s how it is for many of us: we back away before we start, we lower our expectations, we dismiss opportunity as it pulls into the station.
We think we’re being practical, and we are responsible grown-ups after all. There’s this voice in our head that tells us things about years and the wear on our bodies. The voice talks in time lost, not time found or time remaining or the heaping hordes of possibilities still waiting in this lifetime. No, the voice says we must be pragmatic and think like adults. We can’t do everything.
I used to listen to that voice, and I was certain I would be stuck at a 225 pound deadlift for the rest of my life. “That’s it, Lisbeth,” I would rationalize to myself. “You’re pushing 50. There’s no way you’re ever getting to 250, let alone 300. Those dreams are for other, younger women.”
Then one day I changed my training, changed my mindset, and I started sleeping more and eating better. And I marched past that 225 pound deadlift, past 250, past 280, and now I’ve got my sights set on hitting a 300 pound deadlift sometime when I’m 51. That’s pretty cool, right?
So much for that mental piece of nonsense. So much for that voice in my head.
But where does that little voice come from? The one that tells us so quickly to give up, to settle, to not try so hard? And how did it get in our heads?
I think one of the starting points for that voice is that the world beats us down from the moment we can talk (and even before). Think about all the no’s you hear in life in comparison to any yes.
- “Don’t do that, honey”
- “That’s not for you”
- “Don’t touch that”
- “Don’t climb on that”
- “Don’t jump on that”
- “That’s too high/too low/not exactly right”
- “It’s not for your body type”
- “You’re just not a runner/lifter/athlete/______”
All these exhortations start as admonitions from those who would keep us safe—our mothers and fathers, sisters, brothers, then friends and lovers—people who don’t want to see us hurt. Their intentions are good: they want to smooth our path or make our way easier. They know that life is rough, and they’ve already been hurt. They are (for the most part) trying to help.
But good intentions and their protective cocoon get us a little addicted to safety. Plus, trying does hurts. Failing hurts—sometimes failing hurts physically (a missed lift, a tumble), but even if there are no physical scars, failing almost always hurts emotionally. One defeat is a pinprick to our ego, and there are so many more. Life can start to feel like emotional death by pinprick and also emotional death by big, gaping holes. (Some defeats feel like shotgun blasts through the center of our being.) So we pull our punches, hedge our bets, sometimes stop ourselves from giving our best effort.
But what if we stopped listening to what can’t be … and started listening to what can?
What if you thought:
- Of course I can squat more
- Of course I can look like that
- Of course I can eat like that
- Of course I can run like that
- Of course I can do this
- Of course I can do anything
What if you stopped making excuses? What if you stopped stopping yourself? And what if you stopped listening to the well-intentioned but misguided people in your life who are helping you to limit yourself?
Imagine all that you could do if you ignored your limiting voice. Then, little by little, start to overcome that voice. Start to do what you want, what your heart desires, what you know you could do with a little help. Pick one goal. Knock it down. Pick another.
There’s a greater person in each of us than any of us ever thinks is possible.
Once upon a time, I knew a girl named Sue. She told her story here. Read it. You’ll find the tale of a woman who went from thinking she couldn’t be an athlete, to someone who realized she could do anything.
Then find what you need to get yourself moving towards your goal, whether that’s from obese to athletic, from athletic to super-athletic, or simply from sad to happy. Joy isn’t going to come knock on your door. You’re going to have to go find joy, and that path to joy starts in your own mind.
So, it’s time to give up the “can’ts”, and start sprinkling a whole bunch of “dids” all over the Highway of Lost Regrets. You are more capable than you realize (and you don’t suck as much as you think you do.) Hit the gas. You got this. You can do this. You can do anything.
Latest posts by Lisbeth Darsh (see all)
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