What I Learned From Scientology And The Profanity Of “I Can’t”
Right out of the gate, I should mention that I am not a Scientologist. Never was. I do not intend to become one. Got it? Ok. BUT – I did work for two practicing Scientologists and I asked a lot of questions. A lot was explained to me. I listened and I learned. I received a few valuable takeaways. I’ll get there later in the post. Thought you may want to know that up front…
The more races I do, the more I share those experiences – hello zinnrunner? The more I share my experiences, the more feedback I receive – solicited or not. One of the most common comments I hear, in my three years of half marathoning and marathoning, is this: “Wow, I could never do that!” Immediately, I think, “Nope. Not with that attitude.” Am I right?
A caveat: I understand (for most) this response is meant to compliment, flatter, or show that one is impressed by the accomplishment of these feats but I get the sense that a good number of folks who say this actually mean it. And, I am deeply bothered by it.
*Disclaimer: this post and these comments/opinions concern folks without actual disabilities or physical limitations beyond their control. For purposes of this post, I’m more focused on the folks who are limiting themselves. Moving on…
It may sound trite, but I genuinely believe you can do anything you set your mind to. Anything. Truly. You can do that “thing”. The problem is, “that thing” may require other “things” you don’t want to do. A half marathon/marathon is not a miracle or an unattainable goal. It’s an accomplishment of smaller goals that lead up to it (i.e., commitment, persistence, training, time, energy, etc). Little pieces of the whole. Each little piece is doable and, combined, equals the bigger picture. Anyone can do it if they want to. The question becomes, “How bad do you want it?”
As discussed in an early post, I credit my childhood gymnastics training for quite a bit of my athleticism and attitude toward my body and approach to life. One of the most amazing things that has carried over into my adult life is that I never tell anyone (except for a scheduling conflict): “I can’t”. Those two words were a punishable offense during my childhood. No joke. As a little girl, telling my coach “I can’t do a back-handspring” or “I can’t do one more pull-up” or “I can’t do one more press handstand” led to a punishment because, frankly, “I can’t” was the equivalent of a lie. Barring some real reason (see the aforementioned disclaimer re: real reasons*) you can if you want to. And, even if you don’t want to, you probably can anyway. And so, I will never say “I can’t”. In my world, it’s profanity and not the fun kind. Think about it. Next time you think or say you can’t, what are you really saying? I don’t feel like it? I can’t make the time. Or, do I need to work on believing in myself? I guarantee the reason is not that you can’t. You aren’t fooling anyone but you. Eliminating this sort of profanity from your life or your child’s life might change your outlook on many things, including yourself.
Back to Scientology and why it was mentioned. As I’ve learned, Scientologsts believe things must be learned in a definite order. You must learn the higher or more difficult levels of a subject or a task only upon completion of the previous level (“working your way up”). Scientologists call this concept learning on a “gradient“. Learning on a “gradient” is the breaking down of a complicated idea or task (marathon) into smaller more digestible pieces so that a person who could not grasp the whole idea at once (or 26 miles) can take on the idea (or marathon) piece by piece until reaching a full understanding or their goal.
The point is, you can do anything you set your mind to but you must follow your own path. Maybe it takes Phil Shifley three months to go from zero to 26 – so what? It may take you 18 months! Just the same, you can get there and the result will be just as sweet. Just give yourself the chance. You can do it. But, you must do it on your own gradient. Just like anything else (i.e., school, knitting, learning a new concept, cooking, yoga).
My takeaway for you? Next time someone impresses you, say: “What an amazing accomplishment” or something along those lines but, don’t sell yourself short in the process. You can do that amazing thing you want to do. Just FYI.