“I am not good at…” Do you have a list, short or long, of things you cannot do? There is an interesting thing about the phrase, “I can’t.” I would contrast it with the “I don’t like to” and “I don’t want to” phrases. You see — when I say “I can’t…”, there is a bit of me that longs to do that thing or wishes I could be good at it. Maybe there’s even a part of me that would take that risk to try.
I listen to friends say, “I can’t paint, cook, dance, perform, teach, write…” I often reinterpret their “I can’t” with “I don’t know how” or “I choose not to learn how.” Afterall, these are my friends — capable, smart, talented people. Of course they can — given the desire, time and space. And sometimes I simply think they are wrong! No offense, but I know some of you are good at things you do not give yourself credit for. Perhaps there was a time when you were made to feel that painting was not your thing, so you created this assertion — I can’t paint. You may have created this obstacle to achieving, without even realizing the limit you placed on yourself.
My strongest memory of an “I can’t” is public speaking. From assignments at school when I had to stand up in front of the class, to invitations to read scripture out loud at church, I was terrified — shaky voice, dry mouth, racing heart terrified. I was filled with self-doubt & fear of embarrassment. I cannot identify where that fear originated, but I later learned that I was wrong to think I could not speak in front of groups. At the age of 22, I was in a place where I found a passion, a strong desire to share with others what I had discovered. I embraced the fake-it-’til-you-make-it method of learning to speak to large groups of people. You see, the “I can’t” was overpowered by my desire to connect people with one another.
25 years later, I have new passions; a strong desire to share new information and start a new conversation. But alas, my current obstacle is “I can’t write.” But here I am writing a blog. What?!? Honestly, this required a bit of coaxing from a trusted friend. I had to be reminded that I am capable, smart and talented. I can learn, if I just give myself the time and space. I will fake-it-’til-I-make-it. And perhaps, if I am patient with myself, I will grasp that I could write the entire time — I just need to believe.
So what is your “I can’t…”? Think about it. Is it true? Is it just that someone, somewhere said you could not, so you believed? Is it possible you placed that limit on yourself? Do you think you could try something you believe you are not good at? More importantly, is there a part of you that wants to try that thing?
I would love to hear what it is that you feel you can’t do. And tell me — do you want to take that risk and try?