My Mom sent me a great article last week. It is all about the power of your mind and how you talk to yourself. The article chronicles a study done by researchers at the University of Houston and Boston College on the power of telling yourself "I don't" versus telling yourself "I can't". From the study:
"Don’t and can’t may seem somewhat interchangeable, but they are very different psychologically. And if there is one thing that social psychologists have learned over the years, it’s that even seemingly subtle differences in language can have very powerful affects on our thoughts, feelings and behavior.
I don’t is experienced as a choice, so it feels empowering. It’s an affirmation of your determination and willpower. I can’t isn’t a choice – it’s a restriction, it’s being imposed upon you. So thinking “I can’t” undermines your sense of power and personal agency."
The study reminded me of the most powerful lesson I ever received in the power of language and I can't.
When Megan was hospitalized at the beginning of her freshman year of college, she was taken to the nearest psychiatric facility. Which was a hot mess of a holding facility for people who desperately needed help. Don't get me wrong - I absolutely appreciate her university's quick response to her need for help. And I also recognize that we are a privileged family that had never had to see the underside of psychiatric facilities in the United States. God bless those souls that only have that option (and shame on us all for accepting that our neighbors have to endure that kind of care).
On her third day inpatient, I finally met with her social worker. Before Megan got to the meeting, he said "you know, nursing school is really, really difficult. I can't see anyone with a mental illness getting through that stress. Let's talk with Megan about what she can and can't do and start talking about different career choices."
What. The. Hell.
I won't go into detail about what I told this man. Suffice to say that my words caught him off guard...and I sincerely hope that he will never tell anyone in that facility EVER AGAIN that they can't do something they want to do.
Listen people with challenging brain chemistry: YOU CHASE THOSE DREAMS. You CAN be what you want to be, travel where you want to travel, create the things you want to create. Do you have challenges? Yes. We all do. But it matters what words you agree to accept from others. It matters what words you tell yourself. Repeat after me:
I DON'T LET ANYONE TELL ME WHO I WILL BE IN LIFE.
I WILL MAKE MY DREAMS COME TRUE.
I DON"T LET MY ILLNESS DEFINE WHO I AM.
I DON'T ACCEPT OTHERS TELLING ME I AM LIMITED TO THEIR IDEA OF MENTAL ILLNESS.
I WILL DO WHATEVER I WANT.
I love you.
I'm busy working on my blog posts. Watch this space!