“You can do anything you set your mind to.” You may have heard this phrase in some variation throughout your life. It’s that “go get’em tiger, you got this,” quintessential positive attitude that permeates American culture. (I cannot speak for outside the U.S.) This sentiment might seem like a positive message, in reality it keeps you producing while hoping to attain unreachable goals.
Sometimes people say this because they genuinely believe you can achieve anything. That is ok, with a respect to your limits and an understanding of reality this is true. The problem is when people say it to spare hurt feelings or as a pseudo motivational platitude. A capitalist society profits off this as you keep working to reach common dreams such as wealth and fame. In this form it becomes toxic positivity and unrealistic but also it is not useful to a person’s mental wellbeing.
Believing you can achieve the impossible sets a person up to fail. While many will just try harder, this repeated sense of defeat can damage their self-image. They may devalue who they are and base their worth on what they can and what they could not achieve. How then do you keep making goals if you do not believe in success?
Success is possible if you are measuring it on a realistic scale. “You can do anything,” is true so long as it is attainable, and you have proper accommodations. Making attainable goals is important. They do not set a person up for disappointment. They are not shallow words of comfort or impossible dreams. A goal you can reach is a goal you will achieve. Respecting your limitations and making goals attainable is not giving up. It is setting yourself up for genuine success in accepting who you are.
This month take consideration of your limits and check out Pet_Foolery on Instagram sourced in the sources. His comic was a big inspiration for this post this week.
Further Readings link:
John Ellis Why we should stop telling kids they can achieve whatever they dream: https://pjmedia.com/parenting/john-ellis/2017/04/27/why-we-need-to-stop-telling-kids-they-can-achieve-whatever-they-dream-n111265
Time to talk about toxic positivity: https://theeverydaymagazine.co.uk/opinion/its-time-to-talk-about-toxic-positivity-and-hustle-culture
Toxic Positivity vs Realistic : https://thrivingwhiledisabled.com/toxic-positivity-vs-realistic-optimism-knowing-the-difference/