Jeremy Statton

Living Better Stories

More Than You Think You Can

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At some point you have been told you can do whatever you set your mind to. Maybe it was a high school guidance counselor. Maybe your parents. Maybe a youth pastor. Maybe a coach.

Or maybe by a motivational speaker that you only agreed to listen to because a friend goaded you into it or your boss made you.

The problem with the idea is that we all know it isn’t true.

I Can’t Do It

In case you haven’t figure it out yet, all of those people were wrong. You can’t do whatever you set your mind to.

There are physical limitations. There are laws of gravity. There are forces that oppose us. We simply can’t do something just because we decide we want to.

I can’t dunk a basketball. At 6 feet nothing and slow as molasses, I never had a shot at the NBA.

I can’t run a sub four minute mile. The closest I came was in high school at 5:30. Back then I had nothing else to worry about in my life but running, and running that slow was hard.

I can’t sit down today and write a best selling novel. I can write, and some might even call it a novel. But I don’t possess the skills to write the kind of story that millions would want to read.

I can’t start a new multi-billion dollar tech company. I don’t even know how to customize my website beyond the basics. I certainly don’t know how to run a company.

I can’t do these things. And it is ridiculous to think I ever will be able to do them.

Too Much

In the movie Lone Survivor, the opening credits show you video clips of the infamously tough training of the U.S. Navy Seals.

Men are asked to do things that seem humanly impossible. They are kept in water that is much to cold. They are asked to carry things that are much too heavy. They are kept underwater without oxygen for much too long. They are forced to run much too far much too fast.

And then, after all of the too much they are asked to do, they are asked to do more of it.

The training, on the surface, appears cruel. Brutal. Inhumane.

The Voice in Their Heads

Those who survive the training to become a Navy Seal don’t learn that they can do whatever they set their mind too. As amazing as these men are, they have limits too.

What they learn is that they can do more than they thought they could. They learn that their mind gives up much sooner than their bodies.

Everyone recruit hears the same voice in their heads. In the middle of attempting what seems impossible, their minds scream no. Let me out. Enough. I don’t want this anymore.

Some listen to that voice and quit. They stop trying because it seems too hard. They walk away. What’s the point when it is impossible?

Those who become Navy Seals don’t listen. They take the next step. They make it to the next meal.

We Can Become

There are many things we can’t do. We know this. Thinking we can do anything we want is absurd.

But one thing we can always do is become. We can always take the next step. We can always be changing, and in the ways we set out to. We can go a little bit further today.

Most of us tell ourselves that we can’t. We can’t do more. We can’t push harder. We can’t take another step. We can’t endure another failure. We can’t withstand anymore hurt. We can’t go another day the ways things are now.

This is the voice in our heads screaming for us to quit. To give up. To move on. To stop becoming.

Becoming isn’t so much about what you can or can’t do. It is about simply doing today. It is about going one step farther. It is about engaging life.

Becoming doesn’t worry about what happened yesterday. It forgets the successes and failures. Becoming lets go of the expectations of tomorrow.

Becoming is based on the idea that all of us are capable of doing more than we think we can. (Tweet that)

Have you ever overcome a mental barrier?

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About Jeremy Statton

Jeremy is a writer and an orthopedic surgeon. When not ridding the world of pain, he helps you live a better story. Follow him on Twitter or Facebook or Google +.

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8 Replies

  1. Love this part:

    “Those who survive the training to become a Navy Seal don’t learn that they can do whatever they set their mind too. As amazing as these men are, they have limits too.

    What they learn is that they can do more than they thought they could. They learn that their mind gives up much sooner than their bodies.”

    After we realize we have limits, we too often aim much lower than our potential.

    One of the things that I have done is become a decent road cyclist. It has taken years (longer than most) for me to overcome anxiety and learn how to push myself to get better without overwhelming my body. Now, I am learning how to apply those lessons to other parts of my life. Also, I am learning how to have fun on the ride (the path to getting better, even though I have not yet reached all my goals)!

  2. DanKnight

    When I was 11 my parents gave me a guitar for Christmas; on the way to my guitar lessons, some friends teased me. I quit!

    For 40 years I had the mental barrier that I couldn’t play an instrument; couldn’t learn music; couldn’t sing, despite loving music and singing. To substantiate my barrier, I became critical of those who did sing and play music. For 40 years I extended my barrier to others.

    Then at the age of 50 my wife bought me a guitar for Christmas: 3 years later, I’m leading worship for my weekly home group and once a month at my church. Next month I introduce them to the first song I’ve written (polished with help from my friend Cam). This year my guitar goal is to learn barre chords; to open up the wonderful possibilities they bring musically.

    I’m now still extending my barrier: but now it’s a barrier of “You’re never too old”.

  3. One of my coaches told me to spend this next month learning to love myself. That was hard to hear because I want to claim I love and accept myself but reality is I don’t… not when my arm hurts, not when my hair’s sticking straight up, not when my stomach is still hungry after a meal that fed everyone else, not when my clothes don’t fit properly, etc. It’s a barrier and it’s getting in the way of my life-ministry and that’s not ok.

  4. I think that part of loving ourselves is accepting ourselves. Even accepting the fact that we can be perfectionists and not love our flaws. And then to accept and love the flaw of not accepting our flaws. : ) Sorry that got a little complicated.

  5. I’m trying to learn guitar as well. I didn’t learn anything about music when I was a kid. Of course I wish my parents had put me in lessons, but I can’t change that. All I can do is practice today.

  6. I like the part about having fun on the ride.

  7. DanKnight

    Three websites that have help me immensely: Brian Wahl has a great teaching skill and demos how to play many of the currently popular worship songs British based excellent source of tutorials and other worship related topics My only complaint is I wish their camera guys / video editors would understand that people watching are wanting to learn how to play (so focus on the hands – chording, strumming fingering – not the faces), but other than that a good source of videos.

    Perhaps someday we could play together.

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