Ever heard this anonymous quote about choice: “Stop saying ‘I can’t.’ You can. You just chose not to.”
It’s one of my favourites. The first time I read it, it hit me right in the gut.
Oh yeah baby, you can! You just CHOSE not to!
I love it! Because it speaks to two of the most empowering words I’ve learned as a life coach:
Think about it.
When we say we ‘can’t’ we hand our power over to someone, or something, else.
We believe we’re unable to do the thing.
Because we lack the ability, the skill, the know-how, the courage, the chutzpah!
That it’s simply not in our power to do what we want to do.
‘Cuz someone or something else – not us! – is accountable for it.
Aka: they have control.
Which just keeps us stuck in disempowering woah-is-me land.
As a coach I hear my clients say “I can’t” all the time. Heck I’ve even said it myself.
Flashback to 2000. When I moved from Vancouver to Japan for a year with my husband (now ex) to teach English.
Needless to say I wasn’t very happy there for the first few months. I won’t go into why. Let’s just say the experience didn’t measure up to what I thought it would.
So I wrote a letter to a friend (back in the day when we actually wrote letters to one another).
And poured my heart out.
She wrote back a few weeks later with the words I’ll never forget:
My first thought was quite defensive:
I can’t do that! She doesn’t understand!
And then I quickly listed, in my head, all the reasons why I couldn’t ‘come home’…
I couldn’t leave my husband.
I couldn’t leave my teaching job.
I couldn’t shirk my responsibilities.
I’d said yes to a year away & I couldn’t go back on my word.
But then it suddenly hit me.
Yes I could!
Nobody was telling me I couldn’t. Only I was telling myself that.
Based on my own fears, self-judgement & limiting beliefs.
I was the one ‘choosing’ not to leave Japan (& staying stuck in my own misery as a result)!
But what if I switched it up?
What if I explored a different possibility?
The one where I ‘could’ go home?
And so I did. First I talked to my husband, who encouraged me to do whatever felt right for me (but was crystal clear he was ‘choosing’ to stay).
Then for a few days I played with the possibility. The when. The how. The what it would look like, for me to return to Canada.
As a result, a funny thing happened.
By giving myself the freedom to choose & holding myself accountable, I didn’t feel stuck & resentful anymore.
I felt totally free & empowered!
To choose whatever I wanted.
Including staying in Japan for the rest of the year. Which is what I chose to do. And I can honestly say I enjoyed myself so much more.
That’s the power of knowing you have choices.
And allowing yourself the freedom to explore them all.
We ALL have that.
Even when we think we don’t.
Just because we don’t choose a certain option, doesn’t mean it’s not available to us.
It might not be a viable one for you. It might not be comfortable or feel right.
Or it might not be the choice you want to make.
So then fine…don’t!
But please acknowledge it IS a choice.
And you’re the one NOT choosing it.
Own (take accountability) of *that*!
Because, my friend, that’s where your greatest power lies.
And if you’re not fully convinced yet, then try reading (or re-reading) Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl, a Holocaust survivor.
It’ll rock your “I can’t” idea to the very core.
So remember, when you have a decision to make, for the love of pete, stop saying you can’t!
And try this instead:
- Pause & park – place the word ‘can’t’ to the side of the road for a few hours or days. What’s the rush?
- Brainstorm – write down ALL your options/paths/choices that ‘could’ be possible – even the ones that seem impossible or utterly ridiculous. Do NOT filter them out yet ‘cuz that’ll just keep you stuck in rigid, I-have-no-options thinking!
- Feel – sit or walk with ALL your options, journal or meditate on them, talk about them with others, or start trying them on like new boots. See which ones feeeeeel like the best fit for you.
- Filter – cross off the options that don’t resonate with your body/heart/soul & narrow down the ones that do.
- Choose & commit – Pick the option that feels like the best one for you & then follow through with it.
And finally (get ready for a bit of tough love here)…no more, as the Brits like to say, whinging!
You’ve made your choice.
Now take it & run with it!
And see where life leads you.
You just might end up somewhere far better than you ever imagined.
P.S. Got a choice you’re trying to make & need someone to bounce your ideas off? Book a 1:1 coaching session!