When Someone Says "You Can't"

Susan Donnelly uses "I can" mindset to run ultramarathons no matter what negative things others say

“You can’t run that far.”

“You can’t make it on the college team.”

“You can’t run that many races.”

“You can’t run back to back 100-mile races.”

“You can’t run forever.”

“You can’t run now, it’ll interfere with my plans.”

“You can’t act upset.”

“You can’t feel bad.”

Says who? SAYS WHO?

If you know these statements like I do, breathe for a moment. It’s ok. 

Because my question isn’t rhetorical. I really mean it - says who?

Other people saying “you can’t” is one thing. You saying it is another.

Of the two, what you say is the one that matters.

Other people can - and will - tell you you can’t do this, can’t feel that, can’t be this, can’t act like that. They will. They just will. You can get righteously angry all you want but they probably won’t change. They’ll keep saying it.

And that’s ok because it doesn’t matter.

What matters is whether you believe what they say or not.

Because - good news! - you don’t have to believe it. Isn’t that cool? You can choose not to. You hold all the decision-making power here. 

Don’t waste time trying to change the person saying “you can’t.” You can talk to them about how you see it but ultimately, people can say whatever they want - it’s their business, not yours. Your business - and it’s super important - is whether you choose to accept what they say as truth. Often, it’s their own story about what they can’t do.

When someone says you can’t do, feel, or act some way, ask yourself,

“Does this ring true for me in some real way?”

“What makes them more of an expert on me than me?”

“What’s the proof?”

All those statements at the top of this post? I’ve heard them far more than once in my life. When I held them up against the proof, there was none, so I chose to believe I could. The people saying them may have had some authority - like my high school coach - but they had no proof that their “you can’t” was truer than my “I can.” 

For example, how did my high school coach know I wasn’t good enough for the college team when for starters, he didn’t even know which college I was going to?

Sure, maybe I can’t run forever, but none of us knows that for sure yet, so in the meantime, I'm shooting for “I can.”

Maybe I can’t run that far but I don’t know yet (and you certainly don't either) so I’m going to try.

Maybe I can’t run back to back 100-milers but I believe I can and I’m going to try.

Yes, last time I checked, I can run as many races as I damn well want.

Yes, I can act upset and feel bad. I have as much right as anyone else. I’m human just like you.

So please, don’t let anyone convince you can’t do or be or feel something.

You’re the expert on you.

Your life is your story. You get to write it. You get to decide.  

Says who? 

You. You say.