Okay, the bad news is that your mind doesn’t want you to be happy.
(There’s good news coming too, but bear with me for a moment.)
Truly: The oldest part of your brain, the lizard brain, doesn’t care if you’re happy as long as you’re safe. And that means it’s going to use aaaaaall kinds of sneaky tactics to keep you in your comfort zone—even if the rest of you wants out of it.
A few examples? Sure. Your conscious mind wants to lose weight. But exertion is out of your comfort zone, so your lizard brain whispers things like, “Eh, it’s going to be so busy at the gym right now it won’t even be worth it. Just go tomorrow” or “Ooo, you’re kind of sore. You’d better let your body rest up. You should skip today’s workout.” Sound familiar?
In his book, The War of Art, (highly recommended!) Steven Pressfield calls this voice Resistance and that’s a great name for it. It’s the part of you that resists moving in the direction the rest of you wants to go.
This is the voice that will try to trick you into thinking it’s giving you advice for your own good…when the advice does the exact opposite.
Again, this voice’s TOP purpose is to keep you in your comfort zone (aka safety). This also means that when Resistance kicks in, it’s a good sign you’re heading the best direction for you. This is a much bigger topic than we have room for here (my CCA students know I created a whole course about it to help them keep moving)!
So you know this voice is there. But, it’s also a very persuasive voice. After all, there’s a reason why so many people don’t achieve their dream—or even their small desires. And while there’s a whole host of tactics to overcome it, we’re going to focus one key one now.
The voice of Resistance has a favorite phrase that you need to keep watch for: “I can’t.” Or more specifically, “You can’t…” or “What if you can’t…” or anything like that until, hearing it often enough, you start to think and say, “I can’t.”
“I can’t” is an incredibly damaging phrase. It closes doors. It ends things. It makes it seem like there’s no way around it.
And part of what makes it so awful is that, not only does it do all of that, but it’s also VERY rarely true. Instead of it being a fact, “I can’t” is usually an interpretation of facts.
Think about it: Is “I can’t lose weight” literally true? Of course not. Is “I can’t learn French” literally true? Is “I can’t make it to work on time” literally true?
They’re not true, but saying “I can’t” puts you in the same unempowered, trapped state as if they were.
When you say “I can’t lose weight” you assume the identity of someone who just IS overweight as a state of being. You are someone who is incapable of learning as a state of being. You are someone who is late as a state of being.
Why on earth would you let some primitive part of your brain constrain you like that? I guarantee that listening to Resistance is a one-way trip to disappointment and regret. If you think feeling self-doubt sucks, imagine the kind of life you’ll have if you let it rule you.
So, step one: Commit to stop saying the words, “I can’t.” Never again. It’s a habit and you can break yourself of it if you choose to be cognizant of it.
Next, replace “I can’t” with “How can I?”
As in, instead of “I can’t lose weight” change it to “How can I lose weight?”Instead of “I can’t make it to work on time” change it to “How can I make it to work on time.” Instead of “I can’t afford this thing that I really want” change it to “How can I afford it?”
You can feel the difference, can’t you? “How can I?” puts you in an empowered place—it’s possible and you can figure it out. It also sets up a puzzle for your brain to creatively solve, which just happens to be something our brains excel at.
When you ask yourself, “How can I?” you get answers. You get forward movement. You begin to overcome Resistance.
(For the moment—Resistance always comes back. But know you know it and it won’t be a surprise when it does! Or, even better, you don’t make it mean anything when it does.)
“I can’t” closes doors, while “How can I?” opens them. I may not know you personally, but I know for sure that the kind of life you want to lead is one with open doors, opportunities, and action. Whatever you want to have you can—so, how can you?
Your turn! Are you willing to commit to never saying, “I can’t” again? And, even better, replacing it with “How can I?” Truly, it’s been one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. Let me know in the comments below!