“If I Can Do It, So Can You” – REFUTED (Thursday Thoughts)


Another social stigma to debunk. Yay!

This has been done before, but I’m tired, cranky, and I’ve been on Facebook (the cesspool/breeding ground of more recent social attitudes – bad and good), so I’m going to do it again.

Recently I saw this quote posted from a friend, who I won’t name, that was trying to be inspirational to some extent. I respect him for that. The intention is certainly well meaning, although the message is mucky. Perhaps they don’t understand why that is, so I hope this blog will educate them. Hope it also educates others who either believe in this nonsense, or have been told it by someone else.

Some people have stopped believing in the ‘If I can do it, so can you’ generalization, but I’m surprised by how many remain in the mindset of complete apathy, towards someone else’s perception on reality. They continue to believe that everyone feels and thinks like they do, and should be able to do as they do.

The reality: if that line of logic were true, everyone would be a President or Prime Minister. Everyone would be a celebrity. Everyone would be able to do whatever it is that they really want to, despite all the influences around them that make it difficult to do so, or their own biological downfalls that prevent them from pushing forward. No one would ever have any issues, because if someone else can do it, so can they.

Trust me, I do get this concept to a point – it’s what makes it so appealing to those who don’t take the time to analyze it. We are all human. We are all the same – at least in the sense of species – so we should be able to do the same things. Unfortunately, that isn’t true.

People, though we are similar, have many differences in how our brains form as we get older; mainly dependent on the influences we intake as we grow.  The same goes for the body, which can manifest a disease dependent on the circumstances of: health, social and economic status, region, and so many other factors.

Then there’s our base genetics, and the mutations that follow along with them which that can cause hereditary disease. Most of which have been named and diagnosed, but evolution is a slowly progressing beast. It never ceases, and neither will new diseases or new mutations. It’s the bad part of evolution – the side that tests things. Natural selection often (or used to) take them out if they were not efficient or useful, simply by that individual not surviving long enough to breed their genetics onward. Not anymore, thanks to modern technology and empathy – which isn’t a bad thing, by the way. We have overcome a lot. But that’s how evolution works, and it’s partially why we see so many disease and health issues today (combined with pollution, poor diets, etc).

Today, we have a plethora of mental disorders, most have which have structural evidence to show exactly where the damage is, or how intense it is. Then there are others that are waiting for technology to catch up so we can see inside of a neuronal pathway, and into more details of the ever-elusive brain.

We also have a rise in physical disorders. I will admit that there are some who abuse that system (especially in Canada) but that number is lower than most right-wing Conservatives like to propagate. Most people will not give up a life of work, in order to fake a long term disease. They simply cannot afford to, and 9/10 (I’m estimating – no evidence on that one) their quality of life literally turns to shit afterward.

Why would they do it to themselves on purpose, just to make a tiny fraction of the money they would have if they kept working? I’m sorry, but it’s illogical, and not that many people are really that stupid. Some are, granted, but not many.

Depression itself is a nasty bitch, and comes in so many different forms, affecting almost everyone at different intensities at one point in their life. It can create vicious cycles that are often made worse by some of the pharmaceuticals forced down the throats of patients; keeping them stuck in that depressive state for a longer period of time. This makes the mental strain of depression much harder to break.

Many people with chronic pain or physical disorders also exhibit mental stress and depression, as an indirect result of their poor quality of life. Sometimes it’s even a part of the disease’s structure. It all has no many variables that there is no way to generalize any situation to fit another.

So, that being said, can you honestly say it’s as easy for someone else to do it, as it is for you?

If you can, then you are lying to yourself, or you are just clearly ignorant to the fact that other people view the world differently than you do. We’re not simulations and you’re not the only real human (although that is a popular, yet a little self-indulgent, philosophical argument).  We all see the world through different eyes, and we all feel it differently. We all recover from strife differently, and some of us never recover at all. They shouldn’t be looked down upon, but instead, we should be searching for new ways to help them rise up and overcome, so that we can do it ourselves if/when the time comes.

If a teacher can’t get through to a kid that needs to learn proper English, does he give up on the student, or attempt to understand them so they can find a new, more effective way to learn?

If you answered with the former, I feel sorry for your children. Teachers who give up on their students, fail to be proper teachers. It takes a lot of work and empathy to really help and teach someone on a level of real understanding. Our life should be no different when it comes to dealing with the heartaches of friends and family. Teachers do it every week day, with a partial break in the summer (most begin their lesson work early in August), so you can do it for a few hours here and there, especially if it means helping someone you care about. If you don’t actually care, don’t bother offering advice in the first place. The worst things you can say to someone, without properly understanding the situation, are ‘grow some balls’ , or, ‘If I can do it, so can you’, or anything along those lines. All you do is bring their inner thoughts and concerns further into seclusion, so they can manifest and become something worse later on. You shut down any chance of real discussion, when you say something like that.

Every person, and each circumstance, is unique to itself. We compartmentalize them and their circumstances, to make it easier to understand. Without which, our brains would be using up an inefficient amount of energy. It’s natural. We are creatures of pattern recognition, as it helps us survive. If we saw each tree as a new tree every day, we would be over stimulated to the point where we would want to crawl under a rock, curl up in the fetal position, and suck on our thumbs.

But this is harmful when it comes to empathizing with someone else’s situation. Generalizing someone else’s experience, based on your own, is the most self-righteous and ineffective way to help them. It’s far better to try to understand who they are; the psychology behind what they believe, and the concerns that really drag them down. If you are genuine in your intent to help them, then you will care enough to look into those things.

I guarantee, 9/10 (*wink*), if you look deep enough, each situation will be different and will feel different than what you have gone through. And who knows? Watching them struggle, and helping them overcome it, may teach you a valuable lesson that will help you through future strife, as well as create a strong connection with who you’re helping.

It will certainly teach you one thing: empathy. And the world definitely needs more of that.

My last point; take it or leave it:

Tough love can be necessary, sometimes, but the first step is to understand. If you simply don’t want to, mainly because you fear your own involvement will bring up past agonies, then you aren’t as strong as you think you are. You shouldn’t be telling others to toughen up, when you, yourself, haven’t been able to move on in a healthy and constructive manner.

Thanks for reading.


-Adam Gainer


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