Have you ever noticed yourself saying I can’t. I can’t speak publicly. I can’t deal with my mother in-law. I can’t stand being around chipper people. I can’t possibly deal with feeling this sad. I can’t eat healthy, avoiding doritos just won’t work. I hear these types of phrases a lot in my Atlanta counseling practice.

We send ourselves the message of ‘I can’t’ over and over and over.

Sometimes they’re accurate…

But most of the time, these messages are completely false. We become the masters of our own deception. I know this sounds harsh, but it’s true. We allow ourselves to believe the lies that we spin. We spin the lies, because we honestly don’t want to deal with the uncomfortable feelings.

Some of these feelings are small, like how uncomfortable it is to take out the trash. Others of these feelings are so huge we almost feel crushed, like how we feel when we’re grieving the loss of a loved one.

Truth be told, the difficult part is that we don’t like feeling uncomfortable. And some of us have little practice with tolerating uncomfortable feelings. We would rather be happy, peaceful, content.

But that pushes us to avoid our humanity. The humanity of feeling uncomfortable negative feelings. We push them away. We don’t tolerate them. And because we don’t, sometimes we fail to honor them.

But what if, instead of pushing them away, we just let them be. What if we allowed those feelings to be there. In all of the discomfort. Not holding onto them, but not pushing them away either. Just being. Tolerating our distress.

That’s actually a phrase I teach in my Atlanta counseling practice. To tolerate distress,  simply put, to tolerate feelings.

And then, once we’ve tolerated the feelings, deciding to do what’s healthy despite how we feel. So, even if it’s uncomfortable, I still take out the trash because that’s the sanitary way to deal with it. Despite feeling grief, I choose to live because I have other family members I love who are desiring connection with me. Despite craving the Doritos and pie, I eat fruit and vegetables and oatmeal because those are fuel to my body.

If you catch yourself using the phrase ‘ I can’t’ challenge yourself. Ask yourself if it’s true. If it’s not, dig deep and explore those feelings. Honor that they’re there, and do the healthy thing.

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