Understanding How 'I Can't' Damages You

It’s a lot easier to say I can’t, than it is to say, I’m scared. But that’s precisely what we are really saying when we hide from success and ignore new opportunities. Today’s goal is to provide understanding of how ‘I Can’t’ damages you.

If you fall victim to a negative ‘I Can’t’ attitude, it can poison nearly every aspect of your life. It can affect your business plans, career goals, and even personal relationships. Oh, the horror! In today’s show, I take aim at ‘I Can’t’ and provide 4 steps for putting that attitude in its place.

'I can't' is a story we tell ourselves, so we don't have to try. #AllegraIsmClick to Tweet

Successful people often tell you that their motivation to keep going and their determination despite any obstacles, are what drove that them to be successful in their lives and in their business. And they think that this is summed up perfectly with their ‘I can’ attitude.

They believe keeping a positive mindset gave them the energy and the determination that they needed to stick to their plan so they could build the life that they wanted.

Negative self-talk is dangerous and ‘I can’t is related to it. If you develop a negative, ‘I can’t’ attitude, it can invade and pollute every area of your life. It can affect how you build your career, how you build relationships, and how you interact with people who matter.

If you keep telling yourself, you can't do things, eventually you will believe yourself.Click to Tweet

And more than that, if you keep telling yourself you can’t do things you will lose the desire to try. Have you ever wanted to attend an event, but you didn’t go because you thought you wouldn’t know anyone when you got there? Can you think of a time when there was an incredible opportunity to do something you were really excited about but you didn’t attempt it because of fear?

Moving forward, I want you to face your fears, punch that negative attitude in the throat and say ‘I can’. This is especially important if we can identify distinct benefits to you on the other side of that fear. So instead of getting discouraged before you even have a reason, think about your abilities and strengths and push ahead.

What Does ‘I Can’t’ Really Mean

When someone says I can’t, what they’re really saying is I’m afraid to fail, so I won’t try. Think about that for a moment.

I am much more comfortable saying I can’t about something. I’m more comfortable saying that than saying, I’m afraid to fail, so I won’t try. Many of us don’t want to admit we’re afraid to fail, even though that might be true.

But if there’s an opportunity to do something that I really want to do, why wouldn’t I want to try? If there’s a way I could improve my life, my family’s life, the lives of my clients, the lives of my circle, why wouldn’t I want to take that risk?

The answer was hidden in that question. Trying new things, stepping out of your comfort zone, doing something different when you can’t guarantee the result, all of those things involve a certain amount of risk. Not all of us are comfortable with risk.

Most new situations or opportunities don’t involve a life-threatening risk, but fear and not knowing the outcome of something can paralyze you, in the same way that a life threatening risk can. Fear prevents you from trying anything new and it’s often difficult to break that cycle.

I can’t are the words that come out of someone’s mouth, when they’re overwhelmed by doubters, they’re struggling with low self esteem, and they have stopped believing in their goals and dreams.

A strong support system that includes friends, family members, maybe a coach, and others who believe in your goals can help you change your mindset and re-connect you with what you really want. If you don’t feel like you have a support system, look for it, your support system is ready for you when you look for it.

I can’t is a way of denying yourself something because you’re not certain that you’ll be able to achieve your goal and you’re afraid to disappoint. Sometimes you’re afraid of disappointing others, sometimes you’re afraid of disappointing yourself. In the end, the only person we do disappoint is ourselves if we don’t try.

It’s natural to doubt your ability and expertise sometimes, especially when you’re faced with something that’s brand new. The difference is what you do to deal with the self doubt. Those with a positive attitude know how to turn their negative thoughts into positive actions. Did you catch that?

Thoughts lead to actions, but we think it's the other way around. Click to Tweet

Thoughts lead to actions, but we think it’s the other way around. We believe that we’ll act a certain way and then we’ll think that way also, but your thoughts determine how you behave.

So those who have a positive attitude, can take negative thoughts and turn them into positive actions. Rather than excluding themselves from something that they really want to do, they look forward to challenges because they don’t have fear. Here are four steps that you can take to help punch that self doubt in the throat and become more action-oriented.

Punch Self-Doubt in The Throat

First, stop taking criticism or mistakes, personally, no one is perfect. And if no one is perfect, no one is expecting you to be perfect. It’s okay for you to learn from your experiences, and then choose to do something different the next time depending on the results. If I didn’t do anything, because I thought I might be embarrassed or I might make a fool of myself, I wouldn’t do anything. I have little minor moments of embarrassment or ‘I can’t believe I did that’ all the time, but I don’t care. Those mis-steps don’t have anything to do with my value as a person. They are just things that happened. My ‘awesome’ is not in jeopardy.

Second, find ways to improve your skills. If there is a skill gap you can close it. Take some courses, read some ebooks, take some continuing-ed classes, or shadow someone who you think has great skills. There are ways that you can gain confidence in the skills that you need to move forward on your goal. You don’t have to accept that the skill level you have today is the highest skill level you’ll ever have at that task. That’s the awesome thing about skills, they can be improved.

Third, think about past successes. times when we have done well in the past are so delicious. And words of praise are magical for helping you improve your self-esteem. Think about times when you were successful and find ways to reconnect with how you felt in those moments. I can’t remember if I’ve mentioned this before, but I have a folder. on my computer called my atta-girl folder. And when someone sends me nice words, I keep them and refer back to them at those moments when I’m having self-doubt. My att-girl folder of praise gives me the strength to punch self-doubt in the throat.

Finally, and this is going to sound a little unusual, the fourth way that you can combat self-doubt is to find someone who’s better at the thing that you’re beating yourself up about. For instance, I routinely create content, podcasts, videos, blog posts, you name it. And I often delay publishing the content because I don’t have a graphic to go with them. Now I know that sounds nonsensical, but graphics can be a barrier for me.

I can create a graphic, but it takes a really long time. And because it takes a really long time, I put it off. So there can be work that I’ve created that I have not put out there where it could help someone simply because of graphics. Well guess what? There are a lot ofpeople who are really good at graphics. It helps me with my self-doubt and my negative thoughts if I give that task to someone who’s better at it.

It doesn’t mean anything about me that I want someone else to create my graphics. It doesn’t have anything to do with anything that matters. All I’m doing is recognizing that’s not where I want to spend my energy, and then choosing somebody who is better suited to take care of it.

Don’t take criticism or mistakes personally. Find ways to improve your skills. Find ways to think about past successes and reconnect with them. And then find someone to do the stuff that you think is not in your wheelhouse.

These tips will help you so the next time there’s a new opportunity or something new comes along. You can take a moment, take a deep breath and think about what benefits could be waiting for you on the other side of that fear. And instead of saying I can’t, you can say I can.

You can download my I Can checklist as a quick reminder of the things you can do to punch self-doubt in the throat.

Allegra Sinclair
Welcome to the Your Confident Self podcast. A few weeks back I tweeted something. I was feeling inspired so out popped:

I can't is a story we tell ourselves, so we don't have to try.

So today we're looking at the story of I can't. Now, successful people often tell you that their motivation to keep going, their determination despite any obstacles, all of those, you know, things that are perfect on posters and coasters, are what drove that them to be successful in their lives and in their business. And they think that this is summed up perfectly with their 'I can' attitude.

In other words, even though there are a lot of obstacles that might be against them, or they might have to jump through a couple of hoops to reach their goal, keeping a positive mindset gave them the energy and the determination that they needed to stick to their plan so they could build the life that they wanted.

Recently, I was talking about the dangers of negative self talk. And 'I can't' is a direct result of that. If you develop a negative, I can't attitude, it can pervade and pollute every situation that you're in.

It can affect what you want to do with your business, it can affect how you build your career, it can affect how you build relationships, and how you interact with people who matter.

If you keep telling yourself, you can't do things, eventually you will believe you.

And more than that, if you keep telling yourself you can't do things you will lose the desire to try. Have you ever wanted to attend an event, but you didn't go because you thought you wouldn't know anyone when you got there? Can you think of a time when there was an incredible opportunity to do something you were really excited about but you didn't, you refused because of fear?

Moving forward, in those situations I want you to face your fears, punch that negative attitude in the throat and say 'I can'. This is especially important if we can identify distinct benefits to you on the other side of that fear.

So instead of getting discouraged before you even have a reason, think about your abilities and strengths and push ahead.

So first, let's think about what does 'I can't' really mean. When someone says I can't, what they're really saying is I'm afraid to fail, so I won't try. Think about that for a moment.

I am much more comfortable saying I can't about something. I'm more comfortable saying that than I am, well, I'm afraid to fail. So I won't try. Because Mmany of us don't want to admit that, even though that might be true.

But if there's breath in my body, and there's an opportunity to do something that I really want to do, why wouldn't I want to try? If there's a way I could improve my life, my family's life, the lives of my clients, the lives of my circle? Why wouldn't I want to take that risk?

So the answer was hidden in that question. Trying new things, stepping out of your comfort zone, doing something different when you can't guarantee the result, all of those things involve a certain amount of risk. And not all of us are comfortable with risk.

Now most new situations or opportunities don't involve a life threatening risk. That's not we're talking about. But fear or not knowing the outcome of something can paralyze you, in the same way that a life threatening risk can.

Fear prevents you from trying anything new. And it's often difficult to break that cycle.

I can't are the words that come out of someone's mouth, when they're overwhelmed by doubters, they're struggling with low self esteem, and they stop believing in their goals and dreams.

Now, a strong support system that includes friends, family members, perhaps your coach, all of those folks around you who believe in your goals can help you change your mindset and re-connect you with what you really want. If you don't feel like you have a support system, look for it, your support system is ready for you when you look for it.

So I can't is a way of denying yourself something because you're not certain that you'll be able to achieve your goal first time out and you're afraid to disappoint. Sometimes we're afraid of disappointing others, sometimes we're afraid of disappointing ourselves. But in the end, the only person we do disappoint is ourselves if we don't try.

Achievers don't have this attitude. Or if they do experience this, I can't afraid of disappointment, self doubt they know what they need to do to punch those negative thoughts in the throat so that they can continue moving forward. It's natural to doubt your ability and expertise sometimes, especially when you're faced with something that's brand new. The difference is what you do to deal with the self doubt.

So those with a positive attitude know how to turn your negative thoughts into positive actions. Did you catch that? So thoughts lead to actions. We think it's the other way around, like we'll act a certain way and then we'll think that way about it. But really your thoughts determine how you behave.

So those who have a positive attitude, can take negative thoughts and turn them into positive actions. So rather than excluding themselves from something that they really want to do, they look forward to challenges because they don't have that fear. So here are four steps that you can take to help punch that self doubt in the throat and become more action oriented.

First, stop taking criticism or mistakes, personally, no one is perfect. And if no one is perfect, no one is expecting you to be perfect. So it's okay for you to learn from your experiences, and then choose to do something different the next time. If I didn't do anything, because I thought, Oh my gosh, I might be embarrassed or Oh, I might make a fool of myself, etc. I wouldn't do anything. Because I have little minor moments of embarrassment or oh my gosh, I can't believe I did that all the time. But I don't care. They don't have anything to do with my value as a person. It's just some stuff that happened. My awesome is not in jeopardy if I dance poorly in front of others. So first, don't take criticism, or mistakes personally.

Second, find ways to improve your skills. If there is a skill gap, if the thing you're beating yourself up about, if the thing that your dad yourself about today is giving a presentation in public, because the last time you did it, it didn't go well, that's a gap, a skill gap you can close.

Take some courses, read some ebooks, take some continuing ed classes, mentor someone follow someone, Shadow someone who you think has great presentation skills. There are ways that you can gain confidence in the skills that you need to move forward on your goal. You don't have to accept that if you have a certain skill level today that's the only skill level you'll ever have at that task forever. That's the awesome thing about skills, they can be improved.

Step number three, think about past successes. times when we have done well in the past are so delicious. And words of praise are magical for helping you improve your self esteem. So think about times when you were successful, and find ways to reconnect with how you felt in those moments. I can't remember if I've mentioned this before, but I have a folder. on my computer called my add a girl folder.

And when someone sends me nice words, not like oh, I think you're awesome. Those are cool. But when they send me something that's specific, like I love the way you broke down that idea in that video, it really enabled me to feel like I could do it. Words like that, that are specific, like keep those because I refer back to them at those moments when I'm having self doubt. See, that's where my boxing glove comes from my added golf, my add a girl folder gives me the strength to punch self doubt in the throat.

Because I can think back and I can find specific examples of times when somebody liked something about me, they admired a skill that I demonstrated, and that works right hand in hand with me encouraging myself.

The fourth step is, this is going to sound a little unusual. But another way that you can combat self doubt is to find someone who's better at the thing that you're beating yourself up about. For instance, I routinely create content, podcasts, videos, blog posts, you name it. And I don't publish them right away, because I don't have a graphic to go with them. Now I know that sounds nonsensical, but it can be a barrier for me.

Now I can create a graphic, but it takes a really long time. And if it takes a really long time, then I put it off. So there can be work that I've created that I have not put out there where it could help someone simply because I'm holding myself up because of graphics. Well guess what, there's a lot of people who are really good at that. So it helps me with my self doubt and my negative thoughts. If I give it to someone who's better at it.

It doesn't mean anything about me that I want someone else to create my graphics. It doesn't have anything to do with anything that matters. All I'm doing is recognizing that that's not where I want to spend my energy, and then choosing somebody who that is their superpower.

So don't take criticism or mistakes personally. Find ways to improve your skills. Find ways to think about past successes and reconnect with them. And then find someone to do the stuff that you think is not in your wheelhouse.

These tips will help you so the next time there's a new opportunity or something new comes along. You can take a moment, take a deep breath and think about what benefits could be waiting for you on the other side of that fear. And instead of saying I can't, you can say I can.

Thanks for listening. I'll catch you next time.

About the author 

Allegra M. Sinclair

Allegra Sinclair is a professional coach and confidence expert. She hates to see women living small and loves to help them change how they show up in the world.

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