There is one particular phrase that I live by. It’s kind of a mantra for me. I have lived by it since the start of my career, and probably before. It is a phrase I use with those I’m supporting regularly and my staff in my own company. I believe it to be such an important phrase, that it is taught as part of the methodology with our children and young people in A Mind Apart. The phrase is simple….
‘There is no such word as can’t’
It’s simple to read. It’s simple to say. But it’s not always so simple to live by. But, it should be simple to live by, right? Surely it’s just a case of changing the language one uses? But that is sometimes a harder task than you might expect. You see, when we tell ourselves we ‘can’t’ do something, we have created a behaviour within ourselves that subconsciously effects out self-belief and whether or not we try something new or go beyond our usual barriers.
If you tell a child that they are dumb over a long enough period of time, eventually they start to not only think and believe they are dumb, but often behave as though they are (I am not suggesting you go and try this.…just take my word on this one). It’s the same principle when you are telling yourself that you can’t do something. Eventually you start to believe it and behave as though you can’t do it.
If you have been telling yourself you can’t do things all too often, don’t worry it’s not too late! You can reverse this so that you can remove those barriers that you have created. The good news is, that there is a door in that wall in front of you that you can start to open.
With a child, when you speak positively to them and focus on what they can do, their entire behaviour can change. When you tell them they can be whoever they want to be and achieve whatever they want to achieve, they will believe it. They will imagine it. In imagining it and seeing it in their minds eye or imagination, they forget their fears and they start to move towards the thing they want to achieve, or the person they want to become. They ask questions to the things that get in their way, they become inquisitive and most important of all, they become FEARLESS.
Now, imagine if you stopped telling yourself that you can’t do something, and instead told yourself that you can. That you can be anything you want to be and do anything you want to do. And most importantly, that you CAN do it. In breaking the ‘I can’t’ barrier and starting to believe that you can, you will begin to break that bad thought pattern that you created for yourself before. You will be free to think like a child, to be inquisitive, creative and to go around the barriers you come across whilst moving towards your goal. Or in some cases you might even go over, under or even through them!
When we use the word can’t we are suggesting that we are physically or mentally incapable of doing that particular thing. But is that really the case? My guess is that probably in all cases you are capable and you could do it, but that you either don’t want to do it or some other emotion like fear, worry, anxiety or stress is preventing you. But that doesn’t mean you can’t.
Can’t suggests you can never do it. You might not be able to do it at that moment in time, or even want to do it (‘I don’t want to’ is much more of a valid and truthful reason than I can’t). The timing might not be right. Your finances might not enable it at the time, or you might just be scared of the change in your life (yes, we are terrified of change as human beings, and yet we are changing all the time). But to say you can’t is telling yourself you can never do it. That it’s impossible.
You only need to watch the Para-Olympics to know that what we think is impossible is often so very possible and even incredible! But this level of possibility is only achieved when we say ‘I can’ and become fearless of what lies ahead of us.
So, the next time you go to say ‘I can’t’ try changing the vocabulary you use, and in turn change your mindset.
Instead, reply with ‘I can’ and see what possibilities start to open up because you have started to break down the biggest barrier of all….Yourself!