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Don't focus on what you CAN'T; find what you CAN

Thursday, March 08, 2012

At the gym on their "Bally TV", one of the things mixed in with everything else are inspirational quotes. After a few days I've seen and read them all, but for some reason one of them struck me again tonight in a different way than I've thought about it before.

I think it may have to do with something I wrote in response to a SparkFriend's blog that was still somewhat fresh in my mind. (Had to do with doing what we can right now rather than focusing on the mountain we need to climb and the cliffs we can't possibly imagine being able to scale.)

== Self-discipline is easy when you believe that you can do it. Clear your mind of can't. -- Samuel Johnson ==

Normally I hone in on that word I like so much - believe. The strength of my belief that I am able to do is what allows me to do so much.

Tonight I caught on the word can't and realized I've been skipping over the second sentence as not being necessary or not important or something.

"Clear your mind of can't" just sounds too ... something. If I can't do something, how am I supposed to just clear my mind of knowing I can't? In a way it is negating the reasoning of the person who believes they can't without providing any solution other than "believe you can". And while I think believing is important, I don't think it magically overrides natural law.

Of course, what it really depends on is what we're saying we can't do.

I can't fly by flapping my arms. No amount of believing I can will change that.

I can't go to the gym right now. STOP!

Now, wait just a minute. What's stopping me from going to the gym? I have feet. The gym is not that far away. I can put my sneakers back on and walk it in half an hour. It is not impossible. Why am I saying I can't?

The problem lies in my failure to clearly identify what it is that I can't do. I know I actually CAN get to the gym, but it closed at 10 pm and won't reopen until 5 am - and it's 1 am right now (.... go to BED, BLUE! Dagnabbit!) What's the point of getting to the gym? It's doing a workout. So CAN get to the gym is true, but CAN get a workout at the gym at 1 am is not. No amount of believing will get me a gym workout right now.

Now that I have my can't statement straight, I can turn things around. I don't clear my mind of can't. I clarify exactly what it is I can't, then turn it around and look at what I can. The reason for wanting to get to the gym would be to do a workout. But workouts don't REQUIRE the gym. Nor do workouts have to be done immediately if I plan tomorrow better.

* I can find and do a workout video in my room right now.
* I can play music and dance energetically.
* I can set my alarm an hour early and go to the gym before work.
* I can work out longer at my next workout.
* I can eat less this week based on how many calories I failed to burn.
* I can plan ahead so I won't get to 1 am and still need a workout in the future.

Some of those aren't the best or even good options for a variety of reasons. It's 1 am. I should be sleeping. No workout is important enough to get an hour less of sleep for me. But unlikely as I am to pick those choices, they are things that I can do.

In fact, there's a lot more that I can do than those I've listed. As long as I sat around telling myself "I can't go to the gym right now", nothing was accomplished. Once I clarified what it was that was impossible to do, I opened my mind to looking for what was possible.

This made me think of the Sherlock Holmes quote: "How often have I said to you that when you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth?"

If we clarify our can't to be the impossible, we can look at the possible and the improbable, and find the truth of what we can.


Oh, and since it wasn't at all obvious, that was just an example. The gym for me is right next to my bus transfer point coming home from work. The only day I had an issue, I'd forgotten to pack my workout shirt and the sweater I had on wasn't workable. Home is 15-20 by bus, so I just went home, changed clothes, and went back and got my workout done. I've accidentally gone one stop past and walked back. Really, there is NO legitimate reason I should ever be saying "I can't get to the gym" in my current circumstances.
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    just needed to re subscribe to your blog
    2106 days ago
  • TIFFY0906
    I love this post - emoticon
    2107 days ago
    For me Can't is a word I have to work with, I tend to use it as a crutch, and your right believe is not a magical word, I can believe it works for me. See I used can instead. LOL
    2107 days ago
    As always a great blog leaving me with a lot to think about. I can always think a reasons not to go to the gym that way i leave the word can't out of the sentence.
    my favorite is they tell us to take a rest day to allow our body to repair its self. I have assigned a day so i know when it is and i don't just pick one because i don;t feel like going. thanks for giving me something to think about as i soak in the tub. emoticon emoticon
    2107 days ago
    I've had an ongoing thing with piano students. They're welcome to tell me "I can't"--as long as they add "yet", and then start from where they CAN.
    2107 days ago
    Exactly-- the hardest part about weight loss is believing in yourself enough to do something about it. We are our own obstacles and it's up to us to get away from the "can't" and go with the "will do".
    2107 days ago
  • SUE_2U
    Good work with that inner dialogue demon. I have him, too. Or her. I'm hearing my worst enemy and it's me!
    2107 days ago
    Love this post!
    2107 days ago
    I love that quote! I am adding that to my list. I wish I had read this blog before I ran earlier today. I got too into my own head about everything and stopped shorter than my goal. I have also been disappointing myself with working out less than I should. Your blog really helped put things in perspective. emoticon
    I just need to change my attitude and look for opportunities.
    2107 days ago
    That's awesome! You're doing great.

    I totally agree with AMYTRIPP - it really does come down to choices. I can appreciate how you didn't have what you needed and you went home and came back. When we do things like that, even if we haven't met our goals yet, we're already at success.

    I think it's great how you stopped and thought about your choices. One of my favorite people talks about "contrast versus clarity." Once you know what you DON'T want, it's much easier to figure out what you DO.
    2107 days ago
  • RAMONA1954
    Thinking in positive terms is always great. Something I don't always do though. emoticon
    2107 days ago
  • LGAR519
    Due to age and physical limitations, there are things I can't do. I would like to eliminate "can't" from my vocabulary but I can't! But I am trying!
    2107 days ago
    If I'm in an insomnia place, I find that a good pilates or Yoga video can help-- not full on cardio blast or anything, but some movement to get you back into the body, you know? And one less hour of sleep for me would happen anyway-- possibly longer if I'm fretting about how much I should be sleeping. A little 1/2 hour pilates can distract me enough to make me realize how tired and sleepy I really am, whereas no activity could mean no sleep at all... Just what works for me....
    2108 days ago
    Good motivational post...thank you!
    2108 days ago
    emoticon emoticon
    2108 days ago
    Like everything in life, it comes down to choices. Sure, you can sit and stew about not being able to go to the gym at that moment, or you can get up and do something different (or go to sleep in your case). I think we all need to find our way around 'can't'.
    2108 days ago
  • -SONIA-
    I like thinking in terms of positive words, too. CAN CAN CAN!! There's so much we CAN do!! emoticon
    2108 days ago
    Way to go! emoticon
    2108 days ago
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