Whenever an opportunity or challenge presents itself, I think of all the reasons why I can’t do it. A litany of reasons. It’s like a trigger goes off in my head and all the reasons start racing each other around the track.
I’m not an expert. I’m not a professional. I’m a terrible speaker. I’m only a newbie. I can’t do something so tough. I can’t lift such a heavy weight. I can’t jog that many miles. I can’t draw that. I can’t write for that website. I can’t figure out that puzzle. I just can’t.
Margarita Tartakovsky is an associate editor at PsychCentral.com, an award-winning mental health website, and the voice behind Weightless, a blog that helps women deal with body image issues and disordered eating. She also writes a monthly feature for Beliefnet.com, covering topics such as patience and procrastination.
Editor: Nadeem Noor
Because of this, I loved something that life coach Christine Hassler recently posted on her Instagram here. She wrote:
Yes, really, YOU CAN. Please stop thinking and talking about all the reasons you cannot. My challenge to you today is to come up with a list of all the reasons you CAN have or achieve whatever it is you want. Then read that list repeatedly. Stop talking yourself out of your dreams by making excuses…
I think that’s great advice! Today, think of a dream, an opportunity, a challenge. Write it down. Then list all the reasons why you can do it. Tell your inner critic to take a break and have a seat (preferably in the other room). If your inner critic keeps complaining and naming “can’ts,” kindly respond that you hear these concerns, and you’ll get back to them later. Don’t censor your self-compassion.
If it helps, think of one part of yourself as a child who’s excited about this dream or challenge. Think of the other part of you as a parent who wants to encourage their child to follow their dreams, to try challenges — and even to fail (if it happens), because that’s how we learn and understand and know what we want and what we don’t. That’s how we create and innovate.
Then start writing your reasons. Write at least 10 reasons. Nothing is too small or too silly. Just write whatever comes to mind.
And remember that it’s OK if you need to sharpen your skills, obtain certain knowledge or ask for help. You can list that, too. None of us is born an expert. Each of us works and practices at everything. That doesn’t mean that we can’t do something. It just means that we need to bring a few things with us along our journey.
This is something I remind myself of regularly. Because when you’ve lived your life thinking that you can’t do something, that’s typically your automatic response. That’s the space you travel to. You know your way around with your eyes closed. The “I can’t” assumptions just feel so familiar. Like part of your skin. They feel like facts. Indisputable facts.
Making the above list helps us to open our eyes and walk into a different room, to turn a different corner. Maybe you make this list several times for several things. Maybe you reread your list. A lot.
So often we fill our minds (and hearts) with beliefs that scream we can’t. We’re not good enough. We’re not deserving. Let’s try a different approach. Let’s explore and experiment. Because why not?