Something I have been pondering the past few days… “I cannot” is similar to “I choose not to” but not the same. I notice a shift in energy when I am clear with myself on which one is true.
I might say “I can’t” get up and go for a run at 6 am. It is too cold and dark and soggy outside. It is too early. But really… is it true I can’t do this? Nope. I choose not to or I will not, but the reality is I can. I can get up at 6am. I can go for a run. I can wear a jacket and warm clothes and carry a light. I can go for a run but I choose not to. Hmmm.
I might say “I can’t” ignore this work phone call at 8 am on Saturday. Or “I can’t” buy groceries on a Tuesday evening. Or “I can’t” change my schedule. Really? Well… not really. I can do all those things… I might choose not to though. Hmmm.
Finally, I might say “I can’t” put my toes in my mouth. I’m not flexible enough. Well… yes, really. Yes. I cannot do this, it is not a choice. My five-year old can put her toes in her mouth – it is equal parts fascinating and creepy to watch. But I cannot. I have tried. Hmmm.
If I were my own best friend I would take note of all the times I say “I can’t” do something and really think about whether or not that is true. Really really true. I can’t do it? Or I choose not to do it? They are similar but very different responses. If I choose not to do something I feel like I am owning it. If I say I can’t do something it feels like I am allowing external sources to make decisions for me. “I choose not to” feels much more powerful to me compared to “I can’t”. What do you think?
I fully recognize there are many things outside our control that fall into the “I can’t” category, besides putting toes into your mouth. But I think I use “I can’t” a lot more often than it really applies. I think most of the time what I should really be saying is “I choose not to” or “I won’t”. I am curious to see over the next few weeks what happens when I pause and really think about “I can’t” vs “I choose not to.”
So true and beautifully and compassionately expressed. ‘Choose to’ is very empowering language. And language matters, it affects our neurology.