Friday, October 19, 2012

Can't vs. won't

Two recent experiences have given me a different perspective on some of my conversations about habits and desires.

First, I've been working with a coaching client who is struggling to develop a strong writing practice even though he expresses a serious desire to write and publish a novel. He is not a novice writer but has been away from writing for more than a decade raising and supporting a family. Instead of clearing space in his calendar for the writing, he finds himself working more than ever, taking on additional responsibilities within his community, and enrolling in a full-time graduate program that is not related to his creative writing. He's aware of the self-sabotage that's going on although he has very logical rationalizations for his choices. But each new activity provides him with reasons why he can't get any writing done.

Second, I met a couple of weeks ago with my buddy Lily. We are each making some small daily changes to our routines for health and weight loss. I was talking to her and it suddenly occurred to me that I needed to confess a lack of integrity. That for all my talk about wanting to lose weight, I wasn't really making any serious changes. Yes, I was walking an extra 3-4 miles a week; yes, I was using a smaller plate; yes, I was drinking more water. But I wasn't eating less. I wasn't cheating on my food plan because I didn't have a plan.  But I wasn't eating any less or any differently.

And I began to think about how often I say I can't seem to lose any weight and how it sounds an awful lot like my client who says he can't find time to write. I know that my client really means he "won't." Perhaps both in the sense of "will not" and "doesn't want to." If he doesn't write, he can't publish, and if he can't publish, he can't fail.

And me. I don't really know if I can't lose weight (like a metabolic thing). All I can say for sure is that I don't lose any, although I say I want to, and yet I don't want to change what I'm doing. I want to continue to eat what and when I want. I don't want to diet. I just want the weight to go away.

It's an interesting place to sit, this idea of can't vs. won't.

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