***I was inspired to write this after reading a post from a friend recently. I’m always grateful for the words and thoughts that come from a brilliant and beautiful mind and a truly good soul. So, I wanted to explore those words on my own. There’s nothing original here. There’s nothing earth-shattering either. My hope is that anyone who takes the time to read this will ask themselves questions that might inspire them to ignore the voices that would seek to silence them. Instead, hear the voice that tells you, “Yes! I can!”
“You can’t do that!” “You can’t do that because______”
You fill in the blank. My guess is there has been someone in your life who took great delight in telling you what you can’t do and why you can’t do it.
There are always those who want to define for us and make sure we understand without a doubt what’s right or wrong, proper or improper, sacred or sacrilege, socially acceptable or rude, crude and socially unacceptable, politically correct or politically incorrect.
You must know these things, you see, because if you deviate from what you’ve been told you should do or be or believe, you will get yourself in trouble. Worse still, you will create problems for others. You will be a trouble-maker and no one likes those. Right?
So, what have we been told we could or couldn’t do by someone else? And, why did they feel compelled to fill in that blank for us?
Side Note: This isn’t about conversations we have with children, telling them they can’t do something because what they think they want to do involves an issue of safety and they might be harmed by their actions. There are perfectly good reasons to tell a child (or an adult) they can’t do something that have everything to do with love for that person and for their well-being. I’m a mother. I have lot’s of practice with this one.
This is a different kind of “you can’t do that.”
This is the “you can’t do that” that seeks to stop us from being who we are and living an authentic life. It’s the voice that tells us we are something less than and unworthy. And, it is a voice that does harm, causes endless pain, and relentlessly kills the spirit of one who was once filled with life and possibility.
Maybe you’ve heard those kinds of “you can’t” words. Here are some of the ones I’ve heard over time.
- You live in the wrong neighborhood.
- You don’t deserve that.
- You can’t have that because I never got that.
- You aren’t smart enough to go to college.
- You’re too smart and you are a threat to others.
- You won’t finish college. You’ll get married and quit.
- You don’t have enough money so you can’t.
- Who would hire you? You don’t know anything about doing that.
- You’re too young.
- You’re too old.
- You’re a female. You won’t get hired.
- You’re divorced. You won’t get hired.
- You have children. It will be too hard for you to manage that.
- You don’t have a degree.
- You don’t have the right degree.
- You don’t have a degree from the right school.
- You don’t have enough education.
- Your voice is too high and you don’t sound good.
- Your writing is weak.
- You’re too attractive.
- You aren’t attractive enough.
- You’re too big (meaning I was too fat).
- You aren’t worth the effort.
- You aren’t the right fit/the right person.
- You don’t have the right experience.
- You don’t have the right credentials.
- You aren’t enough. And, you never will be.
Is that enough for you? It has been more than enough for me. The saddest thing I can tell you about this list, besides the fact that these were things that were actually said to me, is that there were far too many of them that I believed were true. Not all of them. But, some of them were enough to give pause to even the most confident person, and I haven’t always had confidence in myself.
Let me stop right here and say that I’m not writing this for pity or sympathy or attention. Nope. That’s not what this is about at all.
This is about offering a different voice that maybe someone will hear above the ones that tell us we can’t.
It’s time to stop letting others fill in the blanks for you. FILL IN YOUR OWN BLANKS!
Fill in the blank with the answers that work best for you. The real ones. Those will be the answers that you already have within you. They’ve been given to you by The One who knows you completely. And, our job is to listen for the truth in that voice, the truth that is within us, the truth that lives in our core being and longs to be heard. Hear that true voice and believe what it says!
They are answers for the blanks that you will discover with the help of those who love you without condition and care enough about you to give you room to question, explore, think, reflect, and dive into what’s in front of you and around you. These are answers you will cherish because they will show you the value of learning and growing as you share your life with others who genuinely delight in seeing you grow into your real self.
They are answers that will come out of difficult and painful experiences. That’s how life works. Not everyone will like who we are. Not everyone will care and not everyone will want us to succeed. Not everyone will be nice or play nice. Some will be just plain ol’ mean, rotten, and nasty. Know without a doubt that there really is evil in the world because there is. And, it will seek us out and do everything it can to destroy us. Do not, under any circumstances, let evil fill in your blanks. But, do let the hard experiences teach you things that will not only give you truth but will allow you to share what you’ve been given with others.
Be who you are. Be who you are called and created to be. Use what you’ve been given to the best of your ability. Do it for good–for your good and the good of others in the world.
There are always those who will be very glad to fill in your blanks for you. And, you can let them do that if you want. It’s a choice. It’s your choice.
It takes courage to fill in your own blanks. When you fill in your own blanks, be honest. The only right answer is the one that is true. What is your truth? What is real for you? What answers are the very best reflection of the human being you have the potential to be?
For some of us, filling in the blanks with the true answer has taken some time. But, there is a sense of freedom that comes with the truth. And, it was worth whatever it took to get to the truth.
As you walk your journey of life and fill in your blanks, I wish you peace…