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No You Can't... Yes I Can!

 

How were you raised? Did your parent's encourage and believe in you? Did they help build your confidence in facing situations?  My mother was a somewhat fearful person, she didn't have a great deal of self-esteem.  My father was cautious and over-protective in the sense that he wanted to make sure we avoided all harm.

I was raised with the "don't try that/don't do that/don't get involved with that" mentality, because you might get hurt in one fashion or another.   I was led to believe that life was somehow bigger than me, and that if I tried something new I was unlikely to be to handle it; I might get hurt... I might even fail.  Failure was to be avoided in those days, it was not seen as a "learning experience" as we tend to view it today. 

Obviously, parents need to protect their children from doing things or becoming involved with people that present serious danger.  We don't let our children play in the busy streets, nor get into a car with strangers, but there are also healthy risks that can be fun adventures and provide opportunities to grow self-confidence and learn from our mistakes. 

My father conveyed the message (even if not intentionally) that we really weren't capable of accomplishing basic tasks - things like riding a horse, driving his boat, or completing our own income tax forms. I did well in school, but I didn't have enough self-confidence to believe I could do something big, something great, or even something of value. I was pretty sure that anything I tried was destined to fail.  I didn't  know I had inner strength. I felt faulty, flawed, far less than good or perfect.  I got the message loud and clear that I didn't measure up to my parent's expectations, and I carried that message in my heart and head for many years to come.

While my parents were religious people, I can't say they were spiritual people.  Their faith was more about rules of conduct than it was about the  power of faith and the love of God.  In the Protestant Church, God is often portrayed as someone to be feared, much as I at times feared my own father.  God was not the essence of love and caring, not a refuge, not a source of strength. We never talked about things like that at home, or about dealing with life. 

My mother crumpled under the pressures of her role and relationship, and my father viewed her as weak.  In the tradition of men at that time, he posed a figure of stalwart strength and determination.  I can count the times I saw my father cry on one hand.  We heard a lot of "you can't" and "don't do it" messages growing up, but didn't ever hear "I love you", "I believe in you",  or "you can do it."  I don't fault my parents, I don't think they realized back then how important it is to a child's sense of worth and wellbeing.

It only follows that as an adult I remained in that mindset... accepting the things that befell me as my fate, feeling battered by life, but not realizing that I had the wisdom and strength within me to stand up and fight back.  I felt powerless, and people took advantage of that weakness.  I listened to the wrong people for advice, and I failed to listen to my heart.

It wasn't until I was much older and had lived thru a series of abusive and traumatic relationships that I realized I had the power and the ability to take life by the horns and face it head on.  I learned that I didn't have to be a doormat, I could instead be the doorman of my life - the one who chose to open or close a door.  Life didn't have to happen "to me", I didn't have to be a victim.  I could take charge of my life and choose how I responded to what it brought my way.  I could climb out of the mudpit I'd been stuck in all my life and become a survivor!

Nowdays I spend my time here in blogsphere, and in real life, preaching the gospel of encouragement... telling stories about my life, and trying to support and uplift others who are struggling, so that maybe they can see a glimmer of hope and began to believe that they too can change the direction of their lives.  It takes faith, it takes courage, it takes hope... and sometimes it takes someone who is willing to reach back down into the mudpit and offer a hand and a hug.

No matter how many times in your life someone has told you that you can't, I am here to say "YES YOU CAN!"
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I'm linking up with Sunday Scribblings where the prompt this week is "mud".


26 comments:

  1. Josie, you are an inspiration. You really are. as for me, the way I was raised, my parents, my entire childhood...these are just more stories I could tell. So much of the people we become, depend on our parents...

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    1. Thank you Robin, I am humbled by your words. I am just me. :-) It is incredible how the way we are raised affects the people we will become as adults. THey need to teach much more of that in parenting classes, it's so much more than providing basic physical needs and care! Still, we have the power to break free of those limitiations any time we want to grow beyond that!

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  2. What a great personal story of succeeding but without the encouragement to fail. Mine was the reverse where I roamed free with a bully of brother to climb trees and fall out of them, search for frogs and fish in ponds and rivers and fall into them and try to be quiet about bruises and broken wrists that were brotherly gifts. For all that I enjoyed my childhood and the lessons learned too which came in very useful by not being too disappointed in failure but to truly love every success and achievement.

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    1. Yikes, Old Egg, your brother sounds like he too advantage of his role to get by with bullying you, but I am glad you had the opportunity to go, explore, and try things! Sometimes it is in the wild momements of childhood bravery that we discover our potential is truly limitless! We do need to learn how to accept failure, and yet not be defeated by it, good point!

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  3. A hand and hug is so very important..I wonder if a lot of us have found our place in the blogosphere to find that..and maybe offer it back..honest and strong writing..Jae

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    1. I do believe that with all my heart Jae, I know that I have found a sense of family, belonging, and being understood here more than I've ever discovered anywhere else in life... the sense of community and caring is what keeps me coming back, at at times has even kept me alive!

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  4. Great post Josie.

    And now that you mention it... I don't remember ever seeing my father cry.

    You are an inspiration.

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    1. Thank you Louise! I know that in their generation it was thought a weakness to be a man and cry. I am thankful we now know better, crying is such an essential part of the human experience, as important as laughter and joy! Because my father never cried, it was hard to see him as human and fallible, just like me.

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  5. Amen to all you've said this.

    Thank you for sharing this Josie.

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    1. Thank you for dropping by to read Laura, I'm glad you found something of value that you could relate to here! :-)

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  6. Yet another reason I adore you. I love this post and can relate. I don't know that my parents conveyed a message that I couldn't do something or that they didn't believe in me, but it just wasn't the 'style' of parenting then. I look at the way my parents were parented, and see echoes of that in the way they parented my brother and me, but with a slight degree of a more personal approach. I see a different, and welcoming style of parenting today (NOT the indulgent, enabling, helicopter parenting that is prevalent but that's for another post). I see, and feel I parented with a more relational approach.

    I too, remember feeling there was a pervading sense of limits and fear and 'what could happen'. It mixed with my peacemaking nature and I became a people-pleaser that stayed with me until I was almost 40. The moment I shed that baggage was a wonderful day. I don't blame my parents at all - it is just the season of life and parenting we were in at the time. These times are very different and God is doing a 'new thing' in our midst. I am excited to be a part of it.

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    1. YOu are so right Carrie that our parents parented us much as they experienced, and we went on to do the same with our children, each generation modifying those experiences a bit and hopefully improving our understanding of what is good and what was not as good. I didn't come close to being a perfect mother, though I tried very hard and loved my children very much, yet miraculously they have come thru it quite well, to be amazing adults. I am so blessed by that, children are indeed very resilient and forgiving!

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  7. I really enjoyed reading this and rejoice in how you are using your own experiences to help others.
    I was just wondering today how differently my life path may have developed if my parents had encouraged me more to take risks and follow my heart when I was a child.

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    1. THank you for coming by to read Flying Monkey! I think we all wonder how our grown up lives might have been altered if our childhood experiences had been different. I think it is important to give children a taste of and a love for adventure and experiement. THen when we are grown we won't be so hesitant to try new things, or so very disappointed if at times we fail.

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  8. Lovely post. I feel fortunate that I was raised to believe I could do anything that I wanted to do. I think my mom was just slightly ahead of her time in that regard, probably because her own upbringing was fraught with issues she never wanted to see repeated. Even my best friend--who is a couple of years younger than I--went to college so she'd have something to fall back on in case she didn't have a husband to support her. (That was the first time; she's not really that person anymore.) My father was older than my mom, and more old-school, but while he was largely silent, he was still always supportive.

    I can't say that I'm anywhere close to fearless, but I'm of a fairly solid mindset that I'm a good and worthwhile person who possesses many gifts, and that's almost entirely thanks to my parents.

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    1. It sounds like you were raised by very wise parents indeed, and yes, ahead of their time! A child who grows up to be aware of their own self-worth carried a confidence that will see them thru the hardest of times and inspire them for the good. It makes me smile when I read of someone who feels they benefited from their parents choices, you are truly blessed!

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  9. Well written & thoughtful, so true to who you are. Wise & wonderful. Sometimes we succeed because of our parents, sometimes in spite of them. Mine certainly were not there for me, but I did see what they did and chose to NOT be like them!

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    1. I agree, McGuffy Ann, a good part of who we are is also learned by Not becoming what we feel is less than admirable in other people, including our parents and our experiences growing up. It is said we learn something from everyone we encounter... either what to do or what not to do! I like to think in that way our parents did a good job of helping us grow up to be very independent! :-)

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  10. I was never told I COULD do ANYTHING. There was a line of obedience I did not cross. Be quiet, graduate, marry, move out.

    My husband had the same mindset: cook it, clean it, stay out of the way.

    Meek mouse me. Screw-up, me. Unable, me. Worthless, me.

    Even after 10 years of being married to a man who has tried to teach me that I have worth, it wasn't until several weeks ago that something clicked in my brain and fell into place.

    For some reason, at the drop off point in my life, I now believe that I am sufficient unto myself and owe apologies to none.

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    1. And isn't that an amazing and wonderful place to finally be, Lotta Joy? It has taken me well over fifty years to reach that point too, where I can truly say I think I am just fine the way I am, I am strong, I am capable, I am human, and I am loved. That's a really good place to be! I neither apologize for nor regret a great deal of my past, even the poor choices, because all of that has made me who I am now, and I kinda like this old girl! ;-)

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  11. The words in our house were "you can't/you won't be able to/you don't know how/they won't let you". Because I was not one to rebel--that came later--even though I thought these words were nonsense I was a good little girl and afraid of what "might" happen so I listened and was miserable. Still hard not to hear those words but I get better at it every day.

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    1. That was so me too.. "a good little girl and afraid of what might happen". A people pleaser, and fearful of every straying from the rules. In my older years I have found rule-breaking, withing reasonable boundaries, to be quite enlightening and fun! We CAN overcome those negative messages we received as children and go on to be happy, healthy adults who are comfortable in our own skin!

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  12. Every time you do something you do the impossible, you become stronger. We are capable of so much more than we or society believe!

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    1. That is a really good point and so very true, Ann. Every step ahead is a small victory over the belief that we can't make it. We ARE capable, and we can have the lives we've dreamed of, we can even learn to love ourselves! :-)

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  13. Josie, I emailed you; sorry I didn't see that sooner.

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    1. I got your email Kay, thank you for responding! :-)

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Your comments are always appreciated... they make me smile! :-)