Nothing is at last sacred but the integrity of your own mind. Absolve you to yourself, and you shall have the suffrage of the world. – Ralph Waldo Emerson
We live in a society of advice columns, experts and make-over shows. Without even knowing it, you can begin to believe someone knows better than you how to live your life. Someone might know a particular something better – like how to bake a three-layer molten coconut chocolate cake or how to build a website – but nobody else on the planet knows how to live your life better than you. (Although one or two people may think they do.) For today, trying asking yourself often, especially before you make a choice, “What do I know about this?”
(Author: Jen Louden)
There are four words I do not allow to enter my vocabulary. They are can’t, should, would and could.
The definition of can’t is obvious. Can’t does suggest in some way I lack a specific ability necessary to complete a specific task. I rarely recall hearing this word in the house when I was growing up. If I chose to utter that word, it was strongly suggested I find a way to complete the task. I was encouraged to ask for help because, as my father pointed out “I am a human being and by the very nature of being human I am susceptible to make mistakes.” My father reminded me it was not the mistakes I make which should cause me fear but my refusal to “get back on the bike and try again.” “Learn from my mistakes” he taught me, “It’ll make you stronger.” My father taught me a long time ago that I can do anything I put my mind to. I may need help but I can complete the task. This willingness has helped me to achieve success in many areas of my life.
Should, would and could are words of a different feather. Those words are definitions used by others when they feel it is important to inform us what we “should be doing” with our lives. The assumption is made you want or need that person’s input and that their input is in fact more accurate that your own. Accurate based on whose assessment? How do you know what is best for me? How do you know what is in my best interest?
If you are afraid to take risks you may decide it is also not a good idea for me to take risks. If that is the case and I choose to follow your suggestions, how will I know what I can accomplish?
When I work with my patients I teach them to ignore the family members and friends who implore them to engage in the making of decisions based in someone else’s value system. I have witnessed the results of such decisions and often the ending is not attractive.
“What do I know about this?” I ask myself this question regularly. It has been suggested I might have OCD. I think it’s just good planning on my part. I do get just a tad bit anal when it comes to researching purchases before I run out and throw down my hard-earned money. I still hear from others around me comments such as, “I wouldn’t make that purchase.” My response is usually to smile and say “Thank you” for the unsolicited feedback. The response to my response is usually one of passive anger. “Well fine. I was just offering my opinion but if you don’t value my opinion then I won’t give it again.” My response, “Whatever.”
No disrespect intended but I did not ask for your feedback. I didn’t because I know what I like and what I want. If I am unsure and/or want a suggestion, trust me…I will ask for it.