Mindful, creative, colourful living.

Sunday, 27 January 2019

Stop Saying I Can't

It amazes me how people react when I tell them about my ‘self-imposed’ shopping ban.
“I could never do that,” or “I can’t do that,” they most often say.

Saying  ‘I can’t do something,’ immediately sends a message to the brain telling it that the possibility of achieving this thing, whatever it may be, is no longer a possibility. Your brain responds by saying things such as, “What’s the point? I’ll never be able to do that,’ or ‘Who do you think you are? You know you can’t do that. You’ll never be good enough to do that'.

When I decided I wanted to have a crack at writing and get my work published, I hadn’t written a word since leaving school – some twenty years previously.

I didn’t know how I was going to it, and I hadn't a clue where to start.

I knew zero about the publishing industry. I knew zip about writing query letters. I knew zilch about dealing with editors. I didn’t know how to research magazines.  I had never heard of word-counts, not to mention serial rights or copyright, even plagiarism was a grey area. I had a lot to learn.

All I knew was that I wanted to do it. The words ‘I can't' never crossed my mind. Soon after deciding I wanted to write, I enrolled in a creative writing course. My tutor was a well-respected, published author who seemed more than keen to ‘show me the ropes.’

I got assignments to complete, which I did with great enthusiasm. More often than not, however, my assignments were returned with red lines underlining areas where my writing could have been better and comments, in bold lettering, aimed at trying to help me improve.  

This went on for months. Every time I completed an assignment, which I considered perfect, I’d eagerly send it to my tutor. Every time my assignment was returned, my manuscript was covered in more red lines and more comments than the previous one.

At times, I was convinced my tutor knew nothing about writing; that he had a personal vendetta against people like me who dared to think they’d ever be able to write competently, never mind get published.

It was quite a low point for me, but not once did I say, ‘I can’t.’

I persevered, and to cut a long story short, I eventually got a piece of work published in a well-known magazine. My tutor is now a close friend, who I regard with great respect.

The point I’m making is that saying ‘I can’t,’ precludes any possibility that you will ever be able to achieve things in life.

How many things have you said you can’t, or won’t ever be able to do?

Wouldn’t it be better to replace ‘I can’t’ with ‘I can’t do it yet, but when I learn how to do it I will be able to.’

Many times we say we can't do things only because we don't know how. Just because we don’t know how to do something doesn’t mean we’ll never be able to do it. All we have to do is learn how to do that thing.

So, if there is something you want to do, but you keep telling yourself ‘I can’t’, my advice is:

Get a mentor who has done whatever it is you want to do and is willing to show you how to do it.

If you can’t find a mentor, enrol in a course where you can learn the skills you need.

Most importantly, stop saying ‘I can’t.’