The other side of "I can't"

shutterstock_62564440The more time that I am away from the blog the harder it is to come back. Somehow having been away so long makes me feel more pressure to come back with something of great gravitas or to somehow come up with a really good explanation for my absence. Certainly, I do have good excuses for my extended absence from blogging: work, the book, speaking engagements, a new house, trips to Paris, London and NYC, and hired another intern. Yeah, I have excuses but they don't feel like good ones. Maybe a doctor's note might feel more legit. Something like, "To Whom it May Concern: Please excuse Tracey for not blogging. She's had a lot on her plate and hasn't been swanning around doing nothing. I can attest to the fact that she is so busy that she hasn't yet seen an episode of this season's Downton Abbey. However, she is getting better at managing it all and is even adding more to her plate and seems to be less overwhelmed. It is my professional opinion that Tracey can return to blogging with some limits and modifications. Best, Dr. Isayso." I guess what really got me thinking about coming back here is that I am coming up on my third-year anniversary of my move into being a singleton and I am, as I do, thinking a whole lot about what I have learned about myself in the last three years. If I was to put it in a nutshell in give it to you in a sentence it is a sentiment that I have shared before and it is: I was wrong about 'I can't'." It is am amazing lesson to learn that your beliefs about your self and the limits you put on yourself simply aren't true. I have over and over proved that my "I cant's" are mostly a whole bunch of bologna. It is awesome to learn this lesson, however I wish I had learned it earlier.

Three years ago I believed:

  • I can't take care of myself.
  • I can't succeed on my own.
  • I can't be self-employed.
  • I can't be happy without a baby.
  • I can't ever find love again.
  • I am an introvert so I can't do_______.
  • I can't write a proposal.
  • I can't get an agent.
  • I can't get a publisher.
  • I can't do public speaking.
  • I can't do live TV.
  • I can't do x,y, and z because I am not smart enough, young enough, pretty enough or good enough.
  • I can't be an employer.
  • I can't get a speaking agent.
  • I can't have a house like that.
  • I can't stand up for myself here.
  • I can't end this relationship.
  • I can't write a book.
  • I can't take this risk.
  • I can't, I can't, I can't.

I was wrong.  I was wrong about all of it. Each prediction was totally and 100% WRONG. And this is the point that I really and truly want to make is that "I can't" is mostly a self-protective lie we tell to ourselves to protect ourselves from hurt, failure, and rejection.  After three years of proving that "I can't" is wrong I just don't trust "I can't" anymore. Yeah, sure, it still shows up and tells me that this time is different and this time I really can't. But now I listen to it like I would a scared child and tell it, "Yeah, I know you are afraid but let's try this and see what happens and see if we need some help, support or a a plan to make this happen." And if I chose not to do something I am careful to never tell myself that I can't….I can, but I chose not too. Yes, I still can't ride a bike, drive a stick shift, ice skate, or ski. It's true, I don't have the ability. However, if I wanted to I could learn how to. It's not something I chose to do. It feels better to say that, to own the "I don't want to take the time or energy to make that happen" than to say "I can't".

I am NOT telling you all of this to toot my own horn.  Rather, since I really and truly got this lesson I feel a bit like a person who found religion, I want to take your "I can't" away from you and help you get to the other side and to help you see how when you say "I can't" and see how you are protecting yourself with it. That said, I know there are things that we can't do because to do so would hurt us physically, emotionally, psychologically, or financially. There are some "I cant's" that are true and valid and that is why I am writing my book…however, I just want you to look at your "I can't" and see if it is REALLY and TRULY true. Check and see if there is some fear hanging out in your "I can't" as there usually is. And if there is fear, knowing that fear is normal part of any new venture helps me to expect it and welcome it. As soon as I say yes to something I know fear is going to show up, "But you can't," it will immediately say in dramatic and emphatic tones.  "Oh, hi", I say, "I was expecting you" and then I promptly ignore it and keep on doing the very thing that the "I can't" told me I couldn't do.