“I don’t do dairy, thanks.”
This is a phrase I find myself often saying. Dairy, in general, does not agree with my body, and over the years I’ve learned that even though I’d like to try that new ice cream place that opened up around the corner, I know what havoc it will wreak on my system. And in saying “I don’t…” I find that it become a hard and fast rule – no exceptions, and no excuses. I’ve learned the consequences, and I prefer the happy digestive system rather than the cranky, dairy-wrecked system.
Now, fast forward to the holiday season. I find myself saying “I can’t eat sugar, I’m trying to keep my diet pretty strict.” And sometimes it works, but that little difference of a word “can’t” vs. “don’t” seems to have BIG implications for the way I’ll react to a situation. “Can’t have sugar” suddenly turns into “well, I COULD have just one cookie I suppose…” Temptation is strong, and it’s easy to break our own rules, even though we know we shouldn’t.
I came across this same idea recently of can’t vs. don’t in a news article, and it reminded me that we all struggle with making the right choices for ourselves. If we “don’t” do something, that indicates that there’s no wiggle room; it won’t happen because we can stand firm next to our convictions and beliefs. But if we “can’t” do something, doesn’t it feel like we might make an exception once, twice, fifty times when the mood or situation strikes us right (or wrong?!)?
We might look at getting on our mats for yoga practice as a “can’t” situation – we might say I “can’t miss yoga” when a friend asks us to go out for breakfast or dinner, and turns into “well, I COULD just miss this one class.” But what if we began to rephrase what is important to us, to hold the line at what we need to hold sacred and important in our lives, with no exceptions? It becomes “Thanks, but I don’t skip yoga.” And suddenly our world feels a little more grounded and solid.
This year, as I look toward 2017 with the infinite possibilities and opportunities that it holds, I’m making a list of my “don’t’s” this year – positive negatives that hold me firm and fast to what is most important to me. There’s something very empowering about knowing who we are and what we stand for by putting it above all else, no excuses and no distractions. So here’s to positively empowering ourselves in the new year, and standing grounded in our beliefs. Happy new year!