Question Your Can’t: Rising Above Limitations
I started college at age 36, much later than most. During this time, I developed a love of running—it boosted energy, calmed my anxiety, and was much cheaper than therapy. In my last semester, I developed a hip tear that required surgery.
As I hobbled my way to the end of the semester—literally limping across the finish line—I believed my running days were over. This is not how I envisioned finishing my college career. The final indignity came in the form of a handicap placard necessary for my final weeks of class. Not many things make you feel older than being in your 40s on a campus of twenty-somethings than having that gaudy blue tag hanging from your mirror.
Fast forward three years to the arrival of a rescue dog, Charlie. Charlie was in rough shape—he was abused, had a horrible skin infection, was malnourished, and heartworm positive. After Charlie recovered from treatment, we began a daily walk on a nearby trail. Prior to my surgery, I enjoyed several runs on this trail. It was perfect—fully mulched, surrounded by nature with lots of ups and downs—a great place to disconnect from the world for a time.
Nature’s always been a great place to reconnect with my truth. As we walked the familiar path, I longed to run. One day, my inner voice asked, Why can’t you? A myriad of excuses poured forth, but with each step I began to realize that, even though they were true at one point in my life, they weren’t necessarily true now.
So I took the risk and began to run. I made it a short distance before my body said stop, but each day I came back and tried again. Little by little, my distance expanded. I expanded. What started out as “I can’t” is now “I can and I will!” This truth inevitably spilled over into other parts of my life.
The Story of “Can’t”
My “can’t” story began long before my surgery. Born the proverbial poor farmer’s daughter, I was the last of four children and the only girl. I was often called an “accident” and carried this label well into my adult life.
I came from a small town with the belief that the sum total of my life was to get married, have babies, and live devoted to meeting the wants and needs of others. For so long I believed I was wrong to want for myself and remained completely unaware of my own desires.
Before college, my identity included wife, mother, daughter, and sister—I had no clue who I was. Entering college as an adult, I was nearly twice as old as most of my classmates and older than over half of my professors. I enjoyed my time learning alongside these amazing young people, but often wrestled with insecurities. My comfort zone expanded beyond anything I imagined with each experience. Toward the end of my time there, I opened up to who I was, but the feeling of undeserving remained.
Enabling vs Empowering
During Charlie’s healing process, I learned more about self-care than from any prior book or teacher. I realized how much I enabled others rather than empowering them to do for themselves.
“Shoulds” ruled my behavior and fear was a constant motivator. Discontent set in and I began to look for more purpose in my life. In my search, I found life coaching. Viewing my training in hindsight, I realize it was more for my own healing journey than anything else. I’m still on a journey of self-love but am light years ahead of where I began.
So I ask, where is “can’t” blocking your growth? What desires remain unrealized due to past obstacles? I encourage you to look closely and see if your past “can’t” is still true for you. All too often we stay stuck due to limiting beliefs or false assumptions. Some are learned from our family of origin and others by our life experiences. Some are family patterns, stories passed from generation to generation, such as, “No one in my family ever . . . ”
I encourage you to view yourself through a lens of curiosity rather than judgment. All too often we put so much belief into our perceived limitations that, over time, they become true for us. What would happen if you questioned these limitations and channeled that belief into what’s possible for you now?
For years, I berated myself for wasting time due to fear, but the truth is, certain experiences were necessary lessons. When a baby’s born, we don’t try to teach them algebra or quantum theory. They learn one step at a time, at their own pace. The same’s true for us. If the Universe gave us every lesson all at once, we would implode. Each day, each step, is necessary for our growth.
Turn around and look behind you. Take a good look at how much you’ve grown and celebrate that.
You aren’t the same person you were one year, five years, or ten years ago. We’re dynamic creatures with the ability to grow and change when we choose to do so. Some beliefs were necessary for a time, some were a means for survival.
Have compassion for your past self and take a good look at past beliefs. Ask yourself if they’re still true for you. What protected you before may be exactly what’s keeping you stuck now. Choose to expand. Take the steps to grow, and remember, baby steps count, too.
As for my accident message, running the trail taught me something about that as well. As I reflected on a personal issue, I recalled my oft-stated belief that everything happens for a reason.
My inner voice chimed in, What about you? I stopped in my tracks. I couldn’t say everything happens for a reason and still believe myself to be an accident—it doesn’t mesh.
I’m meant to be here, and so are you