Over the years I’ve gotten really good at practicing non-judgement. People are gonna do what they’re gonna do and it’s not my place to have an opinion about that. “Not my circus, not my monkeys” I like to say.
But at the same time, I’m a compassionate person and so when I see people doing things that hurt them or limit them or block their joy, it’s really hard not to have an opinion.
And the thing that drives me the most crazy is when people say “I can’t”.
Now, don’t get me wrong – I’m not talking about people who genuinely cannot do whatever it is they’re talking about. I’m talking about when people are so caught up in limiting stories that they block themselves from doing or not doing something that could bring more freedom, more happiness, more love to their lives.
I hear this all the time – to be honest I probably even do it myself. Things like
“I can’t delete that toxic friend on Facebook”
“I can’t just eat one cookie”
“I can’t not go to that party”
“I can’t not do the dishes in my office kitchen”
It makes me absolutely CRAZY when I hear this and honestly, it’s probably the number one reason I became a coach – to help people lift up out of these stories and step into a life of authenticity.
Because when you probe a little bit and dig into people’s reasons why they can’t do this stuff, there’s always something external attached to it. It’s never about what they want – it’s about what they’ve been told is the right thing to do, what the other person’s reaction will be, what they believe themselves to be capable of. And it’s because we’re taught in this society that our needs and wants are not enough of a reason to do (or not do) something.
Well guess what? They are!
You cannot live a life of true peace and authenticity if other people’s needs, feelings, and reactions are more important than yours. And though you may think you’re being kind by swallowing your feelings and doing what you think you must, the truth is that continually forcing yourself to do shit you don’t want to do (or not allowing yourself to do what you want) only breeds resentment and judgement.
So if you find yourself in the energy of not being able to get out of doing shit you don’t want to do, here are 4 tips to clear your mind of “can’t”.
- Resist the urge to judge yourself
So often, it’s our own judgment of our desires that keeps us from doing what feels right to us. We think it’s wrong to not want to go out for coffee when it’s pouring rain. We should deny ourselves that cookie to prove how disciplined we are. It’s not nice to delete someone from Facebook, even though I find their posts offensive.
All of this is judgement. And while we’ve all be taught that it’s wrong to judge others, the fact is that it’s just as wrong to do it to ourselves. Your needs, wants, desires, feelings are all valid. The way you feel can never be wrong. So if you genuinely feel like you don’t want to go to your random co-worker’s birthday party across town, honour that and let that guide your decision.
- Look at the big picture
The things we deny ourselves (or force ourselves to do) are bigger than they seem. Forcing yourself to go somewhere when you don’t want to is about more than just a party, you’re saying to yourself “my comfort is not important”. Denying yourself a cookie is saying “I don’t deserve pleasure”. Doing the dishes in your office kitchen when you don’t want to and it’s not your job is saying “my work is less important than yours”.
On a micro level it might seem easier to just suck it up and do it, but on a macro level you’re sending yourself messages that are not conducive to living a life of love. AND you’re sending a dangerous message to the people around you who are taking their cues from you.
- Go into a bubble
What would you do if you lived in a bubble where no one could see and react to what you do?
My guess is that you would eat that cookie, delete that friend, skip that party, and sail right past that sink full of nasty co-worker dishes. And if that’s the case, then you know already what you want to do.
It’s not your job to manage other people’s reactions. Your job is to have honourable intentions and live according to them. If someone is pissed because you skipped a party, that’s their shit, it’s not yours. So remove that as a factor in your decision-making and do what is right for you. That’s never the wrong thing to do.