Your dreams are YOUR dreams. Never let anyone tell you "You can't" achieve them.
I recently told this story on my Instagram running account @jenlarun, and so many people messaged me with their own stories of how they're constantly fighting the influence of others' opinions of their own potential. It absolutely blew my mind. So I wanted to expand on it a little this week.
As I mentioned in my IG post, in the years after my second son was born, I developed severe back pain. It would sometimes get so bad that my back would seize up and I would collapse to the floor unable to move.
I’d have to ask one of my young boys to bring me my phone so I could call my husband to come home from work and carry me to the car to take me to the chiropractor for relief. During those years, I was in the chiropractor’s office 3-4 times a week, nearly every week.
X-rays showed a condition called Spina Bifida Oculta, which though not rare, can cause severe back pain. In my case, I had also developed what my chiropractor described as “the arthritis of a 90 year old” in my lower spine and sacrum. I know his concern was genuine, but I always left his office feeling like I was broken.
Then when I turned 40, my inner toddler had a massive temper tantrum, and I decided enough was enough.
I was tired of feeling fragile and broken and limited.
I asked my chiropractor if it would be ok for me to try running. I had seen so many friends, especially at this stage of life, whose lives had been changed through running, and I hoped it might help me as well.
After a long pause and a huge sigh, he said “Ok, but work up to one mile, and do not go further than that. Your body can't sustain more.”
Well, nothing motivates me more than someone telling me I can’t do something.
So I called bullshit. I decided there had to be a way.
I started looking for someone to tell me what I COULD do, instead of what I couldn’t.
That’s when I met a local physical therapist whom everyone had been raving about. I told him my story and added that my knees had been bad since dislocating my kneecaps on multiple occasions in my teens and twenties.
He didn’t bat an eye. Instead he said these words:
“The body can do what the mind believes it can.”
He explained that my body would adapt to the stresses I put on it by building strength in the areas that need the extra support, as long as I did it gradually and gave my body time to adapt. He then he added “We’ll have you running marathons if that’s what you want!”
Over the next few months, he gave me proper strengthening exercises to reinforce my knees and back and helped me learn proper cadence, but most importantly, he focused 100% of his attention on what I COULD do.
An important caveat – All of this was done under his professional guidance, gradually and with proper focus on building wisely, not recklessly.
Here’s the deal:
There are so many people who are eager to give us limiting advice, people who have chosen to believe the limiting advice they have heard. The people who have given up on their own dreams.
But there are also people who can see the potential in our situation, whatever our situation may be.
Those are the people we need to surround ourselves with- the people who remind us WE CAN.
As nice as it would be to say, “I don’t give a crap what other people say,” on some level we all do. Which is why it is vital that we seek out positive people, people who are DOING rather than criticizing.
I'm going to say that again-
It is VITAL that we seek out positive people, people who are DOING rather than criticizing.
People who are so excited about their own dreams and potential, they don’t have the time or the desire to limit anyone else.
And the kicker- Once we feel that positive, supporting energy, all our doubts begin to melt away (ok, MOST of our doubts 😉 ) We begin to feel stronger and more powerful than ever.
And one more beautiful thing happens- We naturally begin to see the potential in others.
We feel the unbearable urge to build other people up right alongside us. We realize that NONE of us is limited. Some dreams may have to be modified to meet, say, a physical disability, but that doesn’t mean the goal is impossible.
When you find your tribe, the tribe that reminds you of everything you CAN do, the voices of the people who tell you what you can’t do begin to lose power over you...
until one day you realize you no longer hear those people at all.
Thank you for being part of my tribe. Thank you for believing in me as much as I believe in you.
Added bonus: That was almost 9 years ago, and I've never had back pain again.