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#46 I don't want to

As you move through life, you will from time to time reach a point where you hit a wall and feel stuck, lost and confused. If you take action (like joining the Clarity Quest) you'll start finding clarity and making changes, and in the process upgrade your problems.

Those better problems will invite you to step up and become a better person to solve them, but you'll eventually find yourself hitting a wall and feeling stuck and confused again.

When you find yourself tempted to say, "I can't..." when you hit those walls, consider this:

You actually can.

You can. You've done it for so long, and you can continue doing so indefinitely.

"I can't stay at this job any longer."

Yes, you can.

I can’t stay in this abusive relationship any longer.”

Yes, you can.

I can’t continue with this bad habit.”

Yes, you can.

The longer you stay in that situation, the more you miss out on. The cost gets higher and higher, and while it sometimes leads to a catastrophe, it often remains hidden. For example, by not taking action:

  • you don't know what opportunities you are missing out on,

  • you don't know what growth you are missing out on,

  • you don't know what skills you could have developed, and

  • you don't know what better things you could have been doing instead.

Saying "I can't" keeps you trapped, and keeps all of that beyond your reach.

When you say, "I can't..." it does three things:

  1. It stops your momentum dead. Your brain listens to what you say, so if you say, "I can't", your brain accepts that as reality.

  2. It keeps you safe and comfortable. If you believe you can't do it, you have no incentive to take action and move from your situation where it is safe and comfortable (even if it isn't pleasant.)

  3. It gives you an excuse to play the victim. If "you can't", then it's not in your control and it is someone else's issue to fix.

Saying, "I can't..." is gambling because you are saying that you can't change and you need someone else to save you or magically fix the situation.

Rather say "I don't want to…"

Saying, "I don't want to..." immediately shifts the emphasis from an external force to an internal responsibility. Three things happen when you do that:

  1. You notice where you can take responsibility. You shift from being the victim of the situation to the subject of the sentence, the one with the agency to make a difference. And when you realise you are responsible, you are more likely and willing to see what you can do about it.

  2. It invites you to risk and adventure. Even if the actions you can take are uncomfortable, you are still moving forward.

  3. It invites you to take action. When you can see what you can do about it, even if you don't want to, you now have the agency to change the situation (instead of hoping for something to happen magically and change it for you).

The same applies to similar statements. Instead of, "I don't know..." (which keeps us safe and comfortable), move to, "I don't want to know...". Then look for the hard uncomfortable thing you need to do to answer the question, to take action.

Next time you catch yourself saying “I can’t”, change it to “I don’t want to…”. And then ask: “what do I want to do instead?”. And then take action.

Are you constantly choosing not to be in the process of figuring out the hard thing you are facing? Do you often find yourself saying “I can’t”? Consider joining the Clarity Quest, my couples program or my next workshop.

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