It’s Time to Ease Off Ourselves

You’ve probably heard this phrase in a commercial somewhere: “If I can do it, so can you!” It’s meant to make difficult goals seem attainable. 

Some people may find this very motivating. And it certainly can be. Sometimes all we need is a little spark of hope to push us into achieving great things.

But it can also be used as an instrument to shame people into thinking that they’re not trying hard enough. That there’s something wrong with them. 

Just because you’re not getting the results that someone else did does not mean that you lack a good work ethic.

From a marketing standpoint, the idea is that you push responsibility off the item or program or whatever it is you’re selling, and onto the person buying into it. Because obviously, there’s “proof” that it works. I mean, it worked for someone. So if you’re not getting the same results, it’s an issue that you have.

I’ve also seen this used with cancer patients. An exceptional individual who has defied the odds and still accomplished so much under negative circumstances is held up as an example of what is possible. They’re called an inspiration. 

And it’s true, what they did was possible. For them. But we know very little about what else was going on in their lives to support their endeavors.

It’s admirable that these people are able to achieve what they have, but it’s unreasonable to expect that from everyone. And sometimes obstacles that no one else can see (emotional pain, underlying fears, mental illnesses) may hinder us, and the best that we can do is get through the day. Or sometimes, just manage to crawl out of bed.

We may know this and yet still hold ourselves to those standards, and as a result, reap disappointment.

Why am I bringing this up now?

Maybe it wasn’t that you didn’t try hard enough. Maybe it’s because the goal was not the right goal for you.

Because as a cancer survivor, I’ve expected things of myself that I simply cannot do anymore and then became frustrated with my inability to fulfill my unrealistic expectations.

And hated myself for it.

So this is a little reminder to consider what is right for you. Definitely, set goals and seek higher heights! But make sure they are your goals and they fit your life and abilities. That they are meaningful for you. This may require you to adjust your expectations in a way that demonstrates respect for yourself.

Because if someone is trying to amaze you with whatever they’ve done that they’re trying to convince you to do, consider that they might be getting far more out of your willingness to try to live up to their standards than you’ll get out if it yourself.