Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t–you’re right.” ― Henry Ford
Personal growth is a funny journey.
The things that you yourself used to do and then stopped in your growing wisdom now begin to annoy you when you notice them in others. Of course, you are not so much annoyed with them as you are with the old you who did the same darn thing. Because these were the same things that held you back even as you fit in better with the pop culture of the times. Because it is the same nonsense that you kept telling yourself so you could be excused from moving toward your real potential. And because these are the lies that still creep in now and again subconsciously, despite all the work you have done to make them vanish.
A lie such as saying: “I can’t do this!” in immediate reaction to every new, exciting opportunity that life presented you. This is the lie that I want to bust today. These are the words that I want to eradicate from our daily vocabulary.
You will not know the extent of damage you are doing yourself every time you utter “I can’t do that”, “No thanks, not me, I just can’t do that.” You will not understand the depth of harm this innocent sounding phrase can do until you begin to understand and believe the power of your thoughts.
Stop Saying These “I Can’t” Phrases
Here are the short list of “I can’t” phrases that drive me perpetually nuts and constantly challenge me to hold my mouth shut in reaction:
I can’t do that.
I can’t believe in that.
I can’t think that way.
I can’t learn a new language.
I can’t do computers.
I can’t deal with numbers.
I can’t eat well.
I can’t exercise.
I can’t get up early.
I can’t give up alcohol.
I can’t give up smoking.
I can’t give up junk food.
I can’t say that.
I can’t ask for that.
I can’t do yoga.
I can’t bend that way.
I can’t say no to them.
I can’t write that well.
I can’t advance in my career.
I can’t start my own business.
I can’t make more money.
I can’t leave this horrible relationship.
I can’t take care of myself.
I can’t stand up for myself.
I can’t focus on anything.
I can’t commit.
I can’t travel.
I can’t – I can’t – I can’t …. oh I just can’t.
Why You Can Do Anything You Choose
Here’s the test to see if you really can or cannot do something. After all, if it’s the truth, then why stop saying it.
First, be really honest with yourself. Don’t worry, you can do it in complete privacy behind closed doors.
Then, replace every statement of “cannot” with the statement of “choose not”.
I can’t travel => I choose not to travel.
I can’t do yoga => I choose not to do yoga.
I can’t stand up for myself => I choose not to stand up for myself.
The first common reaction you will have is a friendly dose of anger, directed probably at me first for giving you this exercise but more importantly, IF you are being honest with yourself, then at you because you realize that it is all about making a choice.
You know this truth deep down. You have seen disabled people do things that you can only dream of. You have seen disadvantaged people become self-made multi-millionaires. You have seen the fruits of practice, hard work, true devotion, and self-discipline and yet you have made up excuses that sets those groups of winners apart and leave you with nothing but your excuses, filled with “I can’t do this – I can’t be that.”
Enough already! Enough lying to yourself. Enough limiting yourself and sabotaging your chances. Enough having compassion for others who are doing the same thing for themselves.
How do you know anyway? How do you know for a fact that you really and truly cannot do something? Have you given it your best, failed, fell, flunked and then attempted at least two more times? Have you pushed yourself outside that awful comfort zone that keeps you trapped to know your true boundaries? Have you explored every which way possible?
Because “cannot” implies ability. As in, a human being can’t fly. That’s a fact. But it’s not a proven fact that a human being cannot commit or focus (with all due respect to those of you who believe in the whole ADHD-business, a fancy medical term to hold you back with a highly medicated life!) or be on time or produce certain results. It is all a function of desire and required work. There is no room for excuses or sloth if you want the real truth.
Making a Choice to Stop Lying to Yourself
So you have to make a choice: You will either continue lying to yourself – many do for entire lifetimes – or you can be honest with yourself and change your ways and believe the truth and see what is REALLY possible!
The truth is simple: You CAN do anything. It is of your own choosing that you create the outcomes.
This is an emotional shift and not a fun or easy one, because the awareness and clarity that comes with the power of “I can” can first be hard to bear but have courage and make a small tiny step toward that direction and humor yourself. Call it an experiment in seeking your own truth. Call it a crazy radical idea that you’ll do anyway. Call it whatever you like but I plead with you, do not go through life repeating this disease of the mouth: “I can’t”.
Start with today and eradicate “I can’t” first and foremost before you worry about “HOW”! Eradicate it from your vocabulary and leave it only for dire situations, like heavens forbid, you are stuck in your car and really and truly can’t get out without help, or some such thing where it really apply directly and logically to the situation, when you analyze all the options at hand, and even then, there may be a way.
But when it comes to the daily conversations and dialogues, when it comes to greeting the new opportunities presented to you in disguise of something difficult and challenging, stop the instant reaction of killing it by saying “I can’t!” Do not allow those words anywhere close to your heart. Guard and protect your dreams by watching your words first, and your thoughts next. Then see how that small subtle change alone, can bring about a brand new perspective and open the door to let the light in.
Then get up and get to work and start changing the wrong reality you have been painting and start working on a better version of yourself. Go do it now.
“Everyone sees the unseen in proportion to the clarity of his heart, and that depends upon how much he has polished it. Whoever has polished it more sees more – more unseen forms become manifest to him.”
The inspiration for this post comes from the beloved mystic poet of 13th century Persia, Rumi. Don’t forget to grab a copy of my photography book inspired and infused with the quotations from a soul who knew the deepest of all truths even in the dark ages of the 1200s and chose to share them for all generations to come.
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