Columnist Susan Lacke shares the mantra that will change your outlook.

When I suddenly lost my hearing as a child, my parents were told I’d never be “normal.” I’d need to be enrolled in a school for the deaf, learn sign language, and otherwise be okay with being an outsider in a world full of sound. There weren’t a ton of options for deaf people back then, so my mom and dad faced a constant refrain of “she can’t,” “she won’t,” and “don’t even bother.”

You know what they did? My parents, in all their awesomeness, responded with “she can,” “she will,” and “kiss my ass.”

Most parents tell their children they can do anything they want or be anyone they aspire to be. When you have a disabled child, however, it can be hard to say it and actually believe it. But my parents said it anyway – loudly and often, to drown out the naysayers.

I wanted to be on the swim team, but couldn’t hear the starting gun? Cool! They recruited one of the coaches to tap me on the ankle when the gun went off.

I wanted to play saxophone in the school band? Fantastic! I got seated in front of the big bass drum, where the beat reverberated through my body.

The kids at school were making jokes about my deaf accent? Beat them to the punch line! My childhood was a crash course in using humor to defuse stereotypes.

You see, instead of letting other people draw the roadmap, full of roadblocks and safe cul-de-sacs, I was encouraged to blaze my own path. It’s a philosophy I now apply to all areas of my life, from my career to the goals I set as an endurance athlete. It doesn’t matter what the goal is: I refuse to accept “I can’t,” “I won’t,” or “don’t even bother” as acceptable self-talk. I certainly don’t let anyone else talk to me that way.

Those three words – kiss my ass – form a powerful act of defiance that bubbles up in your core and infuses confidence in the blood rushing through your veins. Just saying them makes you sit a little straighter, push a little harder, and smile with the assurance that you’ll show those naysayers, yes you will.

Maybe those naysayers declare you’re too fat/old/out of shape to run, that marathons are a dumb waste of time, that you’ll never bounce back from this injury, or that you’re too slow to even consider chasing that PR or qualifying for Boston. Maybe they’re people on the internet who write mean comments, or maybe they’re people sitting directly across the table from you. Maybe they exist only in your head, taunting you with self-doubt: You can’t. You won’t. Don’t even bother.

Sit there. Listen to what they have to say. Agree that there is a normal way to do things, and you’re not choosing that path. Let them set up all their roadblocks of “you can’t,” “you won’t,” and “don’t even bother.”

Then stand up, smile, and very calmly state the truth:

I can. I will. And kiss my ass.

* * *

About The Author:

Susan Lacke does 5Ks, Ironman Triathlons and everything in between to justify her love for cupcakes (yes, she eats that many). Susan lives and trains in Salt Lake City, Utah with three animals: A labrador, a cattle dog, and a freakishly tall triathlete husband. She claims to be of sound mind, though this has yet to be substantiated by a medical expert. Follow her on Twitter: @SusanLacke