As most of you already know, I cringe at non-words - those words that have made their way into the modern-day dictionary that have no business being in the word business. Last night during a quick jaunt to Port Credit to drop off Happy MacGyver at a shiatsu appointment, The Girl and I were lamenting the downfall of the English language, especially when grown adults use the word "irregardless" in a sentence.
Her son, having been present for many a discussion, decided to pull one over on The Girl. With a grin on his face, he said "Irregardless, Mom..." He didn't even finish the sentence before he broke out laughing for having pulled a funny and for the look on The Girl's face. It was a cringe really, followed by a look of shock. Last night, after practising our dance moves in a store window and laughing the whole drive home, she reminded me of another word that did not get its beginning in the dictionary: Can't.
It's not a word and it should not be in anyone's repertoire, she said, not to mention the damaging ramifications it has when uttered. The Girl is right. "I can't" is damaging, it's defeatist and it sets you up for failure as soon as it forms in your head. You don't even have to say it. It's there and it automatically deflates any idea or possible situation you can imagine.
If you want to go back to school and take a course not in your usual realm, a little off your present path, and you say "I can't" a list instantly starts to form. "I can't" because of a) finances; b) I'm too old to go back to school; c) it doesn't fit in with the idea I already have of myself; d) the homework would be too much.
Wanting to change your present relationship status? You may say "I can't" because of the financial ramifications, because you would be alone, because even though the relationship is not working and you're not as invested you stay because it's comfortable or status quo. Say "I can" and the world of possibilities opens up.
When I ended my first marriage and moved back with the parental units to regroup, my mother Margaret (the same Jesus Christ Margaret) uttered a phrase that has stuck with me to this day and makes me revolt and work to prove the exact opposite. "You can't survive on your own without us," she said. And I cried because at that time, I believed it. I'd just taken a step back and moved into my childhood home. True, I had walked from a bad relationship and was starting anew (and that had a host of new possibilities and opportunities), but I was in a place where I blamed myself. I had screwed up. I had disappointed people and that didn't jive well.
This is something I've carried around for a long time, until recently. I've forgiven myself for a lot of things and am slowly making steps to eradicate the "I can't" from my vocabulary. It's all about the positive and the silver lining I can spin. A day of closed doors and veiled whispers at the office may cause a little upset ('cause I think they're whispering about me) will now garner a look back at my work performance and the personalities of the people doing the whispering. It's not me, it's you," I would whisper back. "I did nothing wrong. I'm doing my work and to the very best of my ability." This was not always the thought process.
Sure, I still get overwhelmed but I think I've learned to relax with certain things out of my control. I can control only myself and by sweeping away the words "I can't," I'm living a more positive life. Two positive steps forward and one step back still puts me one step ahead of where I've been.
Last night, as I was learning the step, shuffle, step in the store window, I never thought "I can't." Instead I thought: "I'll get that eventually, with consistency and practice." And, that is my new philosophy.