‘I can’t do it!’ I moaned to Dad—embarrassingly, on a fairly frequent basis. It didn’t matter whether I was stuck on a school project, a swimming goal or anything else—his calm reply would always be, ‘There’s no such word as can’t’ with just the occasional ‘There’s always more than one way to do stuff’ thrown in for good measure. Actually, the latter was a more colourful metaphor, but in essence this is what he meant. Dad simply didn’t accept my version of what I couldn’t do. He didn’t get mad with me for moaning and if I was really frustrated, he’d give me a hug. But his whole demeanour was ‘You CAN do it’. In his eyes, I saw he believed in me, and this made me have another go. In my early teens, I remember cheekily telling Dad that ‘can’t’ was a contraction of the words ‘can not’ and therefore there was such a word. Dad was not amused and he told me to stop trying to be clever. Today, I know his approach was a beautiful gift to my sisters and I, as we have his ‘can-do’ attitude to life. We all believe there are many ways to achieve something, even if our early attempts fail. And in a less blunt way than my Dad’s approach, I’d love to show you how to get past common barriers that so frequently get in the way.
Is it a fear that is holding you back?
When you say to someone (or to yourself) that you ‘can’t’ do something— is it a true statement? Or is it really a fear that’s holding you back? It’s not cool to admit that you are afraid of something and so we have become incredibly adept at ways of not facing our fears—even when it stops us from doing the things we would really love to do. What do you currently feel you can’t do? Is it a new job or promotion? Finding a new love partner? To manage money more efficiently? Or move house, lose weight, stop smoking…or what exactly is it for you? Now notice to see if you immediately give yourself what I call a ‘get-out-of-jail-free’ card. These are logical, believable answers, but they aren’t a true statement either. Your logical-yet-not-true answers might look like this:
- I don’t have the qualifications/experience to get that job promotion.
- The housing market is really sluggish.
- I don’t have any willpower around cakes and chocolate.
- I’ve tried to stop smoking before, but I’m addicted to nicotine.
Your rationale may have some truth to it—but it’s also not the entire picture. There may be lots of competition for a job promotion; houses in that area may be expensive; nicotine is addictive; breaking old habits is not always easy and so on. But is it true that NO-ONE without qualifications gets a new job, or moves, or loses weight, or stops smoking? No. But the fear of making these changes can stop you from even trying. Making these changes often means changing who you are. Becoming this new person is often at the core of such a fear.
An excellent way to begin banishing your fear is to write about it. For example, your thought processes might look like this: ‘If I am promoted that means I need to manage more responsibility. I’m scared I’m not good enough: that I might fail’ After writing about your fears, counter it with; ‘How will I feel if I don’t go for this promotion? What is the worst that can happen if I get the promotion?’ You will be amazed how powerful this exercise can be as it gets you look at the real issue, not hide behind the mask you are using.
Do you—perhaps subsconsciously—blame others?
When you say I can’t do something, do you add a ‘because’? For example: ‘I’ll never get promoted, because my boss is so mean’ Or, ‘I can’t do it because I don’t have (money/qualifications/time) to do it’. Or with a silent because, ‘I can’t lose weight—I’ve tried every diet’. This common narrative is really saying that it’s the boss’s/lack of money/diet’s fault—and therefore it’s not yours. As soon as you take this stance, you are stuck. So, if you discover that you are blaming others for your “I can’t…” then it is time to step into your own responsibility and choose to see that no matter how much others might not be aiding you, it’s your choice to let them stand in your way, or find a solution that CAN work for you. Wayne Dyer expressed this beautifully as, ’All blame is a waste of time. No matter how much fault you find with another, regardless of how much you blame him, it will not change you’.
Is the power of negative thinking getting in your way?
Most people have come across the phrase ‘positive thinking’ understanding that thinking positively can help you move forward in life—and this is true. The flip side that stays buried beneath the surface is negative thinking, which is like pressing the brake pedal down to the floor, stopping you in your tracks. If you constantly say, ‘I can’t do this’, then your subconscious accepts this as fact. It does so because the subconscious does not work rationally, analytically or chronologically—rather it is influenced by what I call, weight of evidence. With lots of evidence created by positive self-talk, it increases your chances of achieving your goals. However, if your self-talk is repeatedly negative with many, ‘I can’t do this’ then likewise your subconscious will be influenced in a negative way.
By the way, Your subconscious is way, way more influential than your conscious mind. It processes 20,000,000 environmental stimuli per second via the nervous system whereas the conscious mind processes only 40 pieces of information in the same second (Bruce Lipton: The Biology of Belief). The more you can influence your subconscious the easier it becomes to change your world. So, catch yourself when you say to yourself, or to others, about what you can’t do and change it to ‘I can do this’
Just for a moment, imagine that you can do it…
If waved my magic wand over you and suddenly all of your ‘I can’t do it’ dissolved away and you found you COULD do all that you wanted, what would that FEEL like? Visualizing and feeling the positive outcome of your desire is another great way of getting your subconscious to help you. Again, because the subconscious works primarily with imagery, symbolism and connections that are not bogged down with the rational reasons, this can add to the weight of evidence your subconscious needs to help create the stepping stones to your goal.
Creating a Vision Board is a fun way to remind yourself of what you wish to create in your life. To do this, take a large sheet of thin card. Then cut out photos from magazines or print images from your computer of people, situations, or material objects you aspire to be like, to do, or to have. Create a collage of the images. Add positive words to your image. Now take your artwork—vision board—and place it somewhere you will see it everyday, for example beside your bathroom mirror, or inside your wardrobe door, or on your fridge. Every time you look it, the more comfortable your subconscious become with the idea that this is something you can do/be or have and the possibilities of how to make this happen begin to open up for you.
What can you do?
When facing an ‘I can’t do it’, scenario, it’s often because it feels insurmountable because it’s so far away from where you are now. So, what CAN you do? When I first had my dream of owning The Jasmine House, I wasn’t even living in the area, nor did I believe I had enough money to buy such a place, but the dream was very strong, so I knew I had to take a step towards it. In 2005, I bought the domain name, thejasminecentre.com — 4 years before I bought the house. When I moved down to Weymouth in 2006, I drove around the surrounding villages looking at places where The Jasmine House might be located. When I saw the house on Portland for the first time, in 2007, I stuck the property details on my fridge door, for even though I still believed I could not afford it, I trusted that my subconscious would eventually show me a way—and it did, with the generous help of my 4 business angels, Jeannette, Hilary, Denise and Helen. So now, if you’re facing a big challenge, what small step can you do to move you forward?
And no, the methods I’m suggesting don’t always work—at least not in the way I thought they would! However, they do enough times for me to continue to use and benefit from them in my own life. I believe that when your heart, soul and mind are fully aligned it always works. And if nothing happens when I tried all of the above, then just as when I was younger and faced my Dad’s ‘There’s no such word as can’t’, I go away and find another solution, or a different way and trust that ultimately the Universe knows better than I do in terms of what is right for me and when. I hope you too will be inspired to do the same.