‘Whether you think you can, or think you can’t – you’re right’ – Henry Ford
Caveat – I have done something dalt! I somehow managed to delete the finished post which I published last Saturday. Instead I have an unfinished draft and a recollection of some of the additions I put in but not all of them! So if you are reading this and think it looks familiar, you are probably one of the 25 people who read and liked it before it disappeared! My apologies! If you haven’t read it yet, it may not be exactly as it was but, I hope you still enjoy it!
I love the quote above. It gets straight to the point about the way we think about ourselves and our capabilities.
I can so easily say ‘I can’t swim’ or ‘I can’t paint’ and continue on for the rest of my life never doing either. But is it true? I could learn to swim if I wanted to and, as for painting, anyone can pick up a paintbrush and paint. Who has the right to tell me I can’t paint? So the reality is, it’s in my head. Because I think I can’t swim or paint, I can’t.
We can also apply it to much bigger things. ‘I can’t apply for a new job’, ‘I can’t leave this unhappy relationship’, ‘I can’t stop drinking/smoking’, ‘I can’t lose weight’ or ‘I can’t tell someone how I feel’ become self-fulfilling prophecies.
One of my favourite quotes is ‘If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always got’. It’s so true. We can so easily become like a broken record, telling ourselves that a particular thought or behaviour is just the way it is and there’s nothing we can do to change it. But is that true? We can change the way we think or behave. We can stop telling ourselves that just because something has happened in the past, it’s going to happen again. The way we speak to ourselves matters. If we tell ourselves limiting things, we will never experience the joy and excitement of something new and worthwhile.
But what if we changed the language? What if we used can instead of can’t? You can’t lose weight? Yes you can! You can’t learn to dance? Of course you can! You can’t change your life? Absolutely you can! You can’t maintain a relationship? Why not? Change the language from the negative to the positive and suddenly those things you couldn’t do, become achievable.
We can also try inserting the word ‘yet’ at the end. ‘I can’t dance yet’ or ‘I can’t leave my unhappy relationship yet’ show intention and are positive and optimistic. Of course there may well be things we simply don’t want to do and that is absolutely fine but we should own it and be honest. ‘I can’t drive’ or ‘I’ll never get a promotion’ could simply be statements of fact but they can also be negative, suggesting failure. What we could say is ‘I have chosen not to . . . .’. That way, we take control and are clear about what we have chosen to do.
Many years ago, my English teacher at school used to say ‘There is no such word as can’t’. I think she was right!
So the tiny tweak this week is two-fold. Firstly, to catch ourselves using the word ‘can’t’ and really think about what we are saying. Is it true? Why? Is it that we are choosing not to or is it something we just aren’t ready for yet? Secondly, is there anything that you can’t do yet but you’d like to learn or try to do? It could be anything from learning to knit to giving up caffeine. Why not give it a go? You might be amazed! Whatever the outcome, you are proving to yourself that can is a much more powerful and enabling word than the negative connotations of the word can’t. What will you try?
Until next time xx
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