This week I found myself saying and thinking “I can’t take it anymore” quite a lot: two of my kids who seem addicted to fighting; working very late, waking up late, and starting my day late; employers who want more work done yet feel payments can wait…
Not really such outrageous or uncommon things, but the use of that line in particular got me thinking. And, given that so much of what the Torah teaches us and what we’ve discussed here in terms of Soul Psychology is about things not being what they seem and our working to see them truthfully, I decided to look deeper into, “I can’t take it anymore.”
(I better get to the point, otherwise you’ll say you can’t take it anymore and hit the delete button!)
The Wrong Interpretation
A large percentage of clients I’ve worked our corresponded with see “I can’t take it anymore” as a sign that it’s time to quit, give up, admit defeat, and accept that they’ll be scarred for life. Let me be clear: WRONG INTERPRETATION!
I’m not saying that “I can’t take it anymore” isn’t an expression of surrender, acceptance, and letting go, because it is. But the conclusion should not be to drop it all and run, but rather the opposite: do something, do something different. In other words, it’s time for a change.
How it Works
Here’s the mechanics of what’s really happening. We make a choice about how we will conduct a certain aspect of our lives because it has certain positive benefits and payoffs (work until very late at night). But it also has some negative consequences and downsides (wake up late, start working late, not enough time to get it all done and cycle repeats). And the universe, life, so greatly values our participation in our own lives that we’re allowed to keep going with that choice as the downsides slowly increase – imagine slowly raising a dimmer switch.
Over time, the negative stuff gets greater and greater, and you’d think that if we put it on one side of a scale it would outweigh any good or benefit we still get from the choice/behavior. But it doesn’t. Why? Because we’re so addicted/attracted/committed to that tiny slice of good that we overvalue the good and undervalue the bad (going to bed late is working).
Until… “I can’t take it anymore.”
Moment of Change
That’s where we stop defending that tiny payoff in the face of overwhelming evidence (i.e., negative consequences that we’re ignoring), see the scale as it really is, and then start pressing the eject button on our choice. In other words, we start to change. We start to see our behavior in terms of its negativity outweighing the positivity, we get clarity, and we make a different choice. We seek a new, healthier way of meeting that need.
In that case, “I can’t take it anymore” is being misinterpreted as an enemy when really it’s a friend. It’s not defeat or loss or cause for depression.
It’s the beginning.