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We must do that which we think we cannot. by Eleanor Roosevelt

“We must do that which we think we cannot.”

An Eleanor Roosevelt quote

Reading time: Just over two minutes

What does this quote mean?

Eleanor Roosevelt’s words resonate with a timeless truth, a challenge that stirs the depths of our souls. As individuals and as a society, we frequently find ourselves confined by our perceived limitations. It’s not just the external obstacles that hold us back, but the internal voices that whisper doubts and fears. By suggesting we push beyond what we believe is possible, Roosevelt isn’t just inspiring bravery; she’s underlining the immense potential that lies dormant within all of us.

We often surrender to comfort and familiarity, favoring the known path rather than venturing into the uncertain. Yet, within that uncertainty lies the most significant potential for growth. It’s in the face of daunting challenges that we discover our true strength. We find out how resourceful, innovative, and resilient we genuinely are. By stepping out of our comfort zones, by daring to engage with what seems out of reach, we give ourselves the chance to redefine our capabilities.

Think of it as a journey. Every step taken towards what we believe we cannot achieve is a step closer to a deeper understanding of ourselves. Roosevelt’s words are a reminder that we are often far more powerful than we give ourselves credit for. They encourage us to set aside doubt and hesitations, and instead, to boldly stride forward, embracing the unknown.

Achievement is not just about succeeding in tasks we know we can accomplish. True achievement, the kind that reshapes our understanding of ourselves, comes from diving headfirst into challenges that intimidate us. Roosevelt’s insight invites us to reevaluate our boundaries, to constantly question our perceived limits, and most importantly, to always reach for the stars, even when they seem too distant to touch.

How can I use this quote in my life?

Taking on what seems impossible is a journey that might daunt even the bravest of hearts. Yet, Eleanor Roosevelt’s wise words offer a compass to navigate this journey with confidence and determination.

First, recognize your doubts and fears as merely transient thoughts, not definite realities. They might whisper that you’re not good enough or that you’re bound to fail, but remember that these are just passing clouds. Instead of succumbing to them, challenge their validity. Each time your inner critic says you can’t, counter it with a resounding, “Why not?”

Secondly, embrace the power of incremental progress. If there’s a goal or task you believe you cannot achieve, dissect it into smaller, digestible steps. Taking one small step at a time makes the larger objective seem less daunting, and with every step, you’re not just moving forward but also reinforcing your belief in your own capabilities.

Thirdly, be intentional about the company you keep. Surround yourself with individuals who uplift, inspire, and believe in you. Their unwavering faith in your abilities can often reignite your own belief in yourself, especially on those tough days when you’re plagued by doubts.

Lastly, maintain a record of your personal journey. Chronicle your challenges, the emotions they evoke, your strategies to overcome, and the triumphs, no matter how small. This journal can serve as a reminder of your resilience and growth. Whenever you’re on the verge of giving up or feeling defeated, these recorded moments will reignite the flame of determination, showcasing that you indeed can do what you once believed you couldn’t.

About the Author

Eleanor Roosevelt was born on October 11, 1884, in New York City. A prominent American political figure, diplomat, and activist, she authored notable works like “You Learn by Living” and “Tomorrow Is Now.” Recognized for her contributions, she received awards such as the United Nations Human Rights Prize and the Freedom from Want Award, cementing her status as one of the most influential women of the 20th century.