Life Without Judgment

Rethinking "I can't"

I’ve always hated to say “I can’t.” Almost as much as I hate for it to be true. For as long as I can remember, I’ve been determined to do anything and everything that I was asked of me (or that I asked of myself). Until recent years I could overcome virtually any energy deficit or obstacle in order to accomplish something I considered important. I’ve been the “can do” person, the “go to” person, the “yes woman” – and happy about it, perhaps in part because I didn’t know any other way to be. I, and others of you who find yourselves avoiding “I can’t” like the plague, have been reinforced by our society in this not-always-healthy state of being. We Americans are taught to embrace the “can do

Doing well? Doing poorly? Perhaps simply doing.

"How are you doing?” The question is ubiquitous, often innocent, and generally well-meaning. In the middle of or after a personal crisis, it can become nearly unanswerable. Although those words often simply mean “hello,” I don’t hear them that way anymore. I hear the question in all of its truth, and responses come to my mind in all of their intensity. Then I have to choose an answer. Occasionally I’m actually feeling good and the choice is straightforward. Most of the time however, as the saying goes, “it’s complicated.” Yes, often I give a quick answer: Doing well. I’m good. Doing fine. Or a tip-of-the-iceberg answer: Okay… Hanging in there… I’ve had better days… Or occasionally a full-

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