Capability vs. Capacity

Have you ever heard the phrase, “just because you can, doesn’t mean you should”? Have you ever considered how this statement is relevant to not just your actions, but to your mental health and well-being as well?

Today, life is limitless and accessibility to opportunities has never been more abundant. While this can be positive, the endless possibilities and opportunities can be exhausting, stressful and overwhelming – and we may not realize this until we breach our thresholds. Between work, side-jobs, relationships, kids, socialization, self-care, holding space for people we care about, wanting to be available for the people who mean the most to us…, we don’t always recognize our cup is depleted, or alternatively, our plate is full. There is nothing wrong with having a number of things on the go at the same time, or being there for multiple people, but you have to be careful you’re not spreading yourself too thin. Taking on multiple things, pursuing infinite opportunities will mean you have less time for each experience, and even less time to care for yourself.

A few reflective questions to be mindful of when considering whether you should say yes to the next opportunity:

If you’re compromising your physical or mental health, can you actually do it?

If you’re sacrificing your emotional or physical safety, can you actually do it?

If you feel like you’re disconnected from who you know you are, and what you believe in (values), can you actually do it?

There will be times where we want to do something but we don’t have the capacity for it; for example, an opportunity to work overtime – with the holidays around the bend, it would be nice to have extra money, but you haven’t been sleeping or eating proper meals, are isolating and feeling drained. While you’re capable of working the overtime, do you actually have the capacity to do so?

Being mindful of your very human limits and being gentle with yourself when you choose to say no to an experience or opportunity is an act of kindness to oneself. Pushing yourself to do more and be more than what you feel is doable for you right now is not necessary. You have time. You can say no to something now, and say yes at a later time. You’re human. We all have our limitations, and we are allowed to honour our human experience by saying “no”, by taking time for yourself, not working extra, not attending all of the social events you’re invited to, and by giving ourselves the permission to rest and recharge when we feel we need to.

Our capacity and abilities are constantly changing. Your wants and needs are allowed to change, and your response and participation with your environment and others will change as a result of this. Mindfulness, along with re-evaluation, can help you feel more aligned with your authentic self, as you think and feel today. Being aware of the differences between actually wanting to do something, needing to do something, being capable of doing something, and having the capacity for doing something is invaluable.

Written by Savita Jaswal, MSW RSW

Walmsley EFAP