• Corrina Thurston

What to do When You Think: "I can't do this."

Can't is a tricky word. It's not a swear, it's not inherently bad, and yet it can have a negative impact on your confidence and self-esteem. This is especially true when you repeatedly say it to yourself.

Negative thoughts pop up in our minds all the time. We don't always have control over that, but we do have control over how we react to them and if we're giving them credit.

Are you agreeing with those negative thoughts and allowing them to set up shop in your mind? Are you letting them nestle in there by the fire and stick your positivity on a skewer, roasting it like it's a marshmallow?

As soon as you say "I can't," you've essentially said, "I've given up." You're saying to yourself that whatever it is you're trying to do is impossible and I'd venture a guess that most of the time, it's really not.

Photo by Felix Erbach.

Think of your mind like a castle. Your positive wonderful self is the King/Queen puttering around in the center of the castle, making decisions and getting things done. That King/Queen in there is your best self – productive, happy, engaged, and healthy.

Now, around the edge of your castle, waiting up on the outer walls and edges, are guards. These guards are your positive thoughts and you can train them to be on guard at all times, prepared for any unwanted assault from negative thoughts. The better trained your guards are, the better they'll be at both recognizing those negative thoughts as they try to make their way in (sometimes they're subtle and tricky!), and the better they'll be at keeping them out.

Negative thoughts, even for those of us who practice mindfulness and positive self-talk, etc., still try to engage our mind regularly. The trick is to bat them away and not give them so much credence.

Negative thoughts might fly at your castle like arrows, but that's okay. Your positive affirmation guards are ready to flick them away. And if one does fly by and lodge itself somewhere, you can grab it, pull it out, and fling it away.

Negative thoughts, like "I can't do this," will come at you like a siege. It's your responsibility to train yourself to let them fall away into the crocodile-ridden moat before they have the ability to take over.

Breathe. With each breath out, let go of those negative thoughts and let them fall. They're not doing you any good. Think about it. What have negative thoughts ever done for you except make you feel miserable? Instead, try replacing them with positive affirmations and see what it does for you. Force those positive thoughts in there at first if you have to (that's what I had to do).

Some great positive statements that help keep away and minimize the effects of those negative thoughts are:

I am strong.

I am important.

I am talented.

I am capable.

I am loved.

I am skilled.

I am powerful.

I am worthy.

Positive self-talk is important to make a part of your everyday routine because it trains your brain to start looking for the positive things about yourself and your life. It trains those castle guards to be more effective!

That training will make it easier for you to recognize that even if something isn't working right now, maybe you can find a way to make it work in the future.

Start replacing "I can't," with "I can't YET, but I WILL."

Turn those negative thoughts around and figure out how you might solve the problem, instead of dwelling on it. Don't let those negative thoughts nestle into your mind and make themselves at home.

Tell yourself the negative thoughts aren't true instead of giving them so much credit and agreeing with them. Train your brain to fight back with positive self-talk, and when those negative thoughts pop up, which they will, flick them away and breathe them out. Let them slide by. Imagine them just walking past your castle when your guards say "No entrance," or if you need to, picture them falling into the moat. Whatever works best for you.

Your confidence and self-esteem will thank you.

Author: Corrina Thurston is an artist, speaker, consultant, and author working out of Vermont, USA. Check out her book, How To Crush Self-Doubt and Gain Real Confidence.

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