"I can't ___________." How would you fill in that blank?
We've all said "I can't," to something. And truthfully, there are some things I cannot do. But there are many things I can do. Saying "I can't" isn't a real excuse, it's a smokescreen.
Here are some ways I've used the "I can't" smokescreen:
I can't ______________ because I am too tired.
I can't ______________ because I'm not patient enough.
I can't ______________ because I don't have enough time.
I can't ______________ because it's not how I'm wired.
Wake up. All of those are a smokescreen for a deeper, more authentic response. They feel true, but taking a closer look...
that when we say "I can't," it usually means we don't want to.
Me, The Sharing Woman: The way I've seen it play out in my life is when I mention homeschooling. I often get the response, "I could never do that because _______." I cringe when they fill in the predictable blank cause I just want to skip all the comments about how saintly patient I am, how my kids must not need to be social or that I am more organized than the average mom (ALL OF WHICH ARE RIDICULOUS if you really knew me or my kids you'd feel the weight of that).
If a mom says "I can't," it bubbles up encouragement and empowering lines about how she really can do it. I'm her biggest cheerleader. It's not as hard as she imagines, truly.
But if she really doesn't want to, I want her to be honest and say it those hard words: "I don't want to."
I can take it and it'll save us both so much time and awkwardness.
Me, The "I Can't" Mom:
I have a friend who works full time. She's a mom and often times, when the subject of her job comes up, I'll feel the need to make excuses for myself. I have said, "Oh I can't work full time and prioritize my family, but some women can." Just last week I told someone that the reasons I couldn't be a working mom is that I couldn't stop myself from being a workaholic and I was terrible at balancing work & family life.
Seriously?! Why didn't I just tell the full truth?? I don't want to have a full time job. I like staying at home with my kids and having the flexibility that it offers. I don't want to go away and miss all those little moments or training opportunities.
Why didn't I say that? Well, I think you already know.
Because it comes off as judgy. Even though all I'd be saying is that I don't want what she wants...I'm afraid. I'm afraid that somehow the communication lines get filled up by lies.
"She thinks I'm not doing the right thing by going to work," or "She thinks that I don't love my children as much as she does because I go to work." Whatever. We all know that's the reason I hesitate from telling the full truth in those moments.
It's selfish: I don't want to be misunderstood.
It's assuming: I don't want to hurt people's feelings.
And it's insecure: I don't want other women to feel judged by me.
And that brings me to a couple things I truly can't do: I can't make someone understand me, I can't control other women's feelings (tell me when that gets invented!) & I can't determine whether or not someone feels judged by my preferences.
Vulnerability Challenges Easy Offense
Women desire relationships which are mutually vulnerable.
When a friend shares a difference of opinion or lifestyle, they shouldn't have to worry what you'll think of them. Acceptance of the person is paramount.
Give disagreements permission to exist without offense.
And if you're the one sharing your story, it's okay to let go of worrying what they'll think of you. Take a risk...say "I don't want to ___________," and feel free to explain why.
There's great risk in saying what you really think.
Next Time: So, the next time another woman says to me that she does something she loves like runs marathons, cooks everything vegan, runs a business from home or educates her own children or even works a full-time job, or is taking in a foster child,
I am going to consider listening instead of judging myself. I am going to consider their perspective without assuming they are trying to place guilt into my life.
When other moms tell me about their lives, they are sharing. That's what friends do. And I need to remember that
Convincing and sharing are not the same thing.
Truthfully, I probably could do any of those things...if I wanted to. I could rearrange my life priorities and make it happen.
But maybe I don't want to. And...it's okay if I choose to be honest and say so.
Have you been "The Sharing Woman" or the "I Can't Woman"? What happened?