As many of you know, Fletcher broke his leg this summer and has been wearing a cast. He has less than two weeks left and I have been very pleased with how well he has done. There has been very little complaining this entire time. The fact that he has a waterproof cast and can swim has been a huge blessing.
For the most part, the cast hasn’t stopped him at all. But we have noticed that occasionally he will use the cast as an excuse that he can’t do something. Today I asked him to water the hanging baskets of flowers on our front porch.
He “tried” and then came in complaining that he couldn’t do it. Well, that’s one thing that I simply don’t accept. My children know that if they can calmly talk to me and tell me what they need help with, I’ll be glad to help. But comments such as “I can’t” (especially if they are accompanied by whining or crying) are not listened to at all. The more they cry about it and repeat that they can’t do it, the more I ignore them.
Once they calm down, I remind them that the correct response is something like, “Mom, I tried to water the plants, but I’m having trouble getting the water high enough to reach the basket. Can you please help me?” To which I quickly respond with assistance.
The issue of course is usually not, “I can’t…” but rather, “I won’t.” For instance, Fletcher was completely capable of watering the flowers today. The cast had nothing to do with it. He simply didn’t want to do it.
Jim has a saying that he uses with the children all the time. It goes like this:
“Believe you can. Believe you can’t. Either way you’re right.”
They get so frustrated by that saying because it perfectly reflects their attitudes and what they’re struggling with. They know that when “they can’t” they aren’t really trying and don’t want to believe that they can do it. They know perfectly well that if it is truly something beyond their abilities then we will help them. But they also know that I never assist with a simple “I can’t.” We simply do not tolerate it around here. We even have a jar that we all have to pay into when we say, “I can’t. “ It helps us to keep that phrase from sneaking into our everyday speech.
Remember that I’m reading The Success Principles? The other day I read a passage that perfectly explains why Jim and I react so strongly to the words “I can’t.” Jack Canfield (the author) says:
“If you are going to be successful in creating the life of your dreams, you have to believe that you are capable of making it happen. You have to believe you have the right stuff, that you are able to pull it off. You have to believe in yourself. Whether you call it self-esteem, self-confidence or self-assurance, it is a deep-seated belief that you have what it takes – the abilities, inner resources, talents and skills to create your desired results.
Believing in yourself is a choice. It is an attitude you develop over time. Although it helps if you had positive and supportive parents…. You must choose to believe that you can do anything you set your mind to – anything at all – because in fact, you can.”
It also helps that we believe the Bible when in Phillipians 4:13 it says, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” We understand that although our abilities may not be adequate, Jesus can do things within and through us that more than compensate for our deficiencies.
My children are so capable and intelligent and I know that they can do anything they set their minds to. But the fact that their mom knows it is not enough. They need to know it, too. Because it’s their life to live, not mine.
As for me, I’ve always believed I can do anything I want to do. And if anybody tells me I can’t, that makes me believe it even more. One recent example is when we were trying to get funding for our new soap facility. The banker told me that I needed to realize that it might take me 8 years to build the soap room. I politely finished the meeting walked out, looked at Jim and said, “He doesn’t believe in us, we’re not meeting with him ever again.” That meeting was less than 6 months ago. Construction has begun and we’re expecting the soaproom to be completed in another 6 weeks.
What the banker said didn’t bother me in the least because I was saying “I can.” The fact that he was saying “I can’t” meant that he was not the right person for me to work with. I do not want to be surrounded by those kinds of people.
So if you find yourself (or those around you) saying “I can’t” too often, remember – “Believe you can. Believe you can’t. Either way you’re right”.
I’d love to hear if there are any challenges you’re facing right now and what it’s going to take to make you believe you can?