Turn the Word Can’t Into ‘I Choose Not To’

My mission is to inspire you into getting what you want out of life. I am your Personal Life Coach and as you read these column weekly (and I am sure you do), you most likely realize that my belief is you can accomplish anything in life if you put your mind to it. My hope is that I teach you self-empowerment and the first way to do that is to change your thinking.

In the next three columns we are going to focus on your thinking. Last week, you learned that “no” was a complete sentence and hopefully you are continuing to practice saying “no” without regrets. I know it’s harder than you thought because it’s not natural. Once you practice it, it really simplifies your life and teaches you to follow through with your inclination and not to people-please.

This week, I want you to replace the word “can’t” with “I choose not to.” This too will be a powerful tool in making your life different. “Getting what you need” requires that you either change or fine-tune your internal dialogue so that you will feel differently about you and your choices. I want you to shift your negative dialogue into powerful thoughts. When people listen to their own internal negative dialogue it keeps them from reaching their goals. In therapy, we call this “critical thinking” or “the critical parent”. Your parents were typically well meaning in their attempts to protect you, yet they instilled the “what could go wrong” approach. Do you remember your parents warning you to watch out for cars or not to trust people or to stay away from something? This conditioned you to look at negatives first.

When you find yourself saying or thinking the word “I can’t”, stop yourself and change the word to, “I choose not to”. This gives you power. Let’s look at some typical examples:
• “I can’t get over him.” Replace it with “I choose not to get over him.”
• “I can’t lose weight.” Replace it with “I choose not to lose weight right now.”
• “I can’t get up early.” Replace it with “I choose not to get up early today.”
• “I can’t find time to read or exercise or get away.” Replace it with “I choose not to find time…”

You may be wondering how the words “I choose not to” empowers. The word “can’t” infers inadequacy. “I choose not to” presupposes that you can, but you choose not to today. The mind is a very powerful tool and your thinking is constantly feeding into your sense of self-esteem and confidence.

Let’s start out with the basics. For the next week I want you to:
• Stop yourself when you hear the word “can’t”.
• Replace it with “I choose not to”.
• Notice how different it feels consciously to make the choice not to do it.

By working on this assignment you will be primed for the next step, which is to figure out how you will accomplish getting up earlier, losing weight, moving on to another relationship or finding time for yourself. Next week you will be learning how to use thought stopping to bypass your negative thinking and reconstruct your critical thoughts into self-affirming ones. Your power to change your life comes from changing your thinking!

Just remember I have never, in my twenty-plus years of psychotherapy, met a client who could not achieve their goals. I have only met clients who choose not to.

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