I was helping my daughter study for her test. As we were studying, my daughter was whining and moving very slowly through the material. I noticed a heaviness about her. (No, she was not bloated.) I just got this feeling like she was pushing a heavy load. This behavior seemed familiar to me, and so I asked her about it. This is how our conversation went. (I’m ‘Me’, in the conversation and she is ‘D’.)
Me: “Are you telling yourself that you can’t?”
D: “What do you mean?”
Me: “Are you saying to yourself that this is too hard and you can’t do it?”
D: “How did you know?”
Me: “I’ve seen this before, and see it often with my clients.” (She’s eight and so gets what I do.) “When you are saying in your head that you can’t – or that you don’t want to, what happens?” (Yes, mamma is coaching the young one.)
D: “I can’t think. I don’t even know what I’m reading.”
Me: “Mmmhhhm.” I was not at all surprised to hear this.
I explained to my daughter that by sending this message of “I can’t” to herself, this ‘can’t’ becomes true. Whatever she is studying feels overwhelming and so much bigger than her. It’s like a heavy load that she cannot push. She was in awe of what she saw as her mother’s super-hero powers.
Me: “Na. It’s really simple, actually, but yes, it can be very powerful.”
I told my daughter about the power that words have on how we feel and then, in turn, on how we behave. I suggested she change her language, and say ‘I can do this’ instead.
D: “I can do this.” she said in a low voice.
Me: “Nope, louder.”
D: “I can do this,” she said a bit louder.
D: “I can do this!”
D: “I can do this! I can do this!”
We both started to laugh so hard all the while chanting “I can do this! You can do this!”
Me: “How do you feel now?” I asked her.
D: “That was fun!”
And so, with this shift in language and approach we continued studying together. My daughter was focused and present and whisked through the material. And it was fun indeed.
What made all the difference?
My daughter recognized how her language was impacting her and her approach to her studies. This attitude of “I can’t” made all the challenges she was facing while she was studying so much bigger and heavier than they needed to be and really were. Believing that she couldn’t made it so much harder for her to push through what she felt was difficult.
We tend to make things harder for ourselves, harder than they really need to be and are. When we tell ourselves that we ‘can’t’ we send a message to our brains and our bodies that we really cannot. We then shut down, stop thinking, and move very heavily, choppily, or slowly, or not at all.
Instead of telling yourself that you can’t, tell yourself that you can.
Watch what happens to your mind and your body when you do. Try this out especially when you are presented with a challenge.
Stop saying, I can’t, and say ‘I can!’ instead. It may sound too simple, but it really works.
Try it and be in touch to let me know how it goes.
In support and admiration,