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Wednesday, May 15, 2013

The tiers of can't

"I'm watchin' sis go pitterpat.  Said 'I can do that'"

Wait, can I do that?

I really hate the word can't.  And YES, throughout my life I have said that word more times than I can count or would be willing to admit even if they were countable.  I think that's why I've come to hate it.

I've ALWAYS had a yearning to prove others wrong when they say I can't do something.  And I prove them wrong by doing aforementioned something.  But I have a chronic history of accepting "can't" when I say it to myself.  And I'm telling you this--IT STOPS NOW.

I had a revelation last night right before going to bed.  I'm not talking about an "this is going to create world peace in a day and solve worldwide epidemics and answer every domestic and foreign issue" revelation.  Nor am I talking about a book of Revelation (or for that matter, book of Daniel) type revelation.  But I AM talking about a revelation that screams to me, "Type me in your phone and set a reminder to blog about this tomorrow or else you will forget!!"

Below, I'll discuss what I'm coining "The Tiers of Can't"

"I can't" versus "I can't YET" versus "I can't UNTIL" versus "I CAN"

So tier 1: "I can't"
  • This one is pretty self-explanatory.  It also sets you up for immediate failure.  Let's call this "pre-trying failure."  Meaning that before you even try to attempt [action X], you have decided that you are not going to succeed, no sir, not gonna happen, no way.  The ultimate outcome for this defeatist thinking is, in my experience, you go through this mental conversation so thoroughly that you either a.) convince yourself to not even try because "what's the point?" or b.) you say you're going to try, you may even think you try, but really you don't fully try because since you think you can't do it you almost make yourself fail.
Tier 2: "I can't YET"
  • While "can't" has become one of my most hated words, "yet" has become one of my most favorite.  Particularly in my current medical mystery situation and uncertainty about the future.  When you tack on the word "yet" to the phrase "I can't" and form "I can't yet," you are automatically giving yourself 100% more hope and optimism for [action X] than you had in Tier 1.  That three-letter word gives you the window of opportunity to claim, "No, I can't do this YET....but I am not ruling out the possibility of success in this area in the future."  And that glimmer of hope that says "I'm not quite there and I'm not exactly sure how to get there but I know the possibility is there" can make all the difference in the way you approach any and every situation in your life.
Tier 3: "I can't UNTIL"
  • Does this one scare you a little bit? Well, it should.  And it shouldn't.  And yes, those are two apparent diametrically opposed sentence fragments but the are both true within this third tier.  The reason this should scare you a little is that this is the tier where you've gone through the "I can't"and the "I can't yet" and have accepted that the possibility for succeeding at [action X] exists.  Those essentially are the easy steps.  What makes this one a little on the scary/harder side is that word "until."    When you say "until," you are marking a specific time in the future when [action X] can be performed successfully.  The scary part of it is that this means you have to actively work on discovering your until.  Discovering your until makes the situation suddenly take on a new level of reality, which as noted several times above is scary simply because you are getting closer to [action X] and you even have a plan of how you can achieve it, and even then you probably still have a little doubt in your mind.  But once you find your until, you also have a reason for great excitement! Look at you!  You know exactly what you need to do to get closer to [action X] and make it happen.  You have a game plan, and even if you're not quite ready to attack it you suddenly find you have more power than you have ever previously felt and you see that [action X] is in sight!
Tier 4:  "I CAN"
  • Okay.  I just want you to take a moment to read the title of this tier aloud.  If you didn't do it when I just said to, then do it now.  Seriously, just say to yourself (but out loud), "I can."  Did you feel that power?  When you said it aloud did you have a certain [X] of your own in mind?  Did saying "I can" feel true?  Did it feel like a lie?  Did it give you chills/make you angry/scare you/make you doubt why you've read this far?  If the answer to any of those questions is "yes" then I'm glad.  This post has done what I intended.  The thing is, once you have your until established in tier three, if you're anything like me, it's almost impossible to see that something is within reach yet not jump at the opportunity eager to succeed.  Some of you may find that your until is not quite as motivating, but that's okay, too.  Because once you have your until, I promise you that there will be a time that you find you are saying "I can!" (other than the time I just asked you to do so).  And once you realize that you have eliminated the 't from the word and are now living with your new roommate, "can" instead of your old roommate you never paid his/her rent, "can't" you will find it's easier to say, "I not only can, but I will"
And then, once you say that W word....once you add your will to the equation, you will find yourself one day, possibly doing something like driving to school or working at your desk or watching a TV show or reading a book and then the coolest thought in the world will occur to you.

I did.

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