Challenging and Changing ‘I can’t’ Statements in Lockdown

What are your ‘I can’t’ statements? Do you even know? 

Practising mindfulness has made me acutely more aware of the stream of negative thoughts that play in my mind, day after day, including the long list of ‘I can’t’ statements.

Like a TV that’s been left on, these pesky thoughts frequently play at a volume which irritates (and influences) my mood, emotions, body language and decisions, without somehow being loud enough to notice and turn off.

Now… I do make it my business to challenge these thoughts. That’s kinda my thing.

But lately, amidst the global upheaval, my expectations have lowered dramatically.

I mean… by big ‘I can’t’ in February was, “I can’t do a webinar for hundreds of Headteachers!” (did it by the way. Eeeek!) to only a few months later, “I can’t go to the shop past 9am,” or even, “I can’t go outside.”

Yep… two months into world upheaval has me feeling more socially anxious than ever, with hints of agoraphobia. Sweet.

The thing that I’m realising though is that the same old approach still works, even if the problems have changed.

i.e. if I strive to challenge these statements – to test out their accuracy – these problems will very likely go away. Or at the very least get easier to deal with.

So that’s what I’m doing, when I hear that voice telling me that ‘I can’t go outside,’ I’m simply striving to put one foot in front of the other and find out whether that’s true or not.

Whether I make it out for a long walk, to the corner shop or simply to the back garden, if it disproves my ‘I can’t’ statement then I view that as a roaring success. As I mentioned though, I do have low expectations!

Are you struggling with self-doubt? Take a few minutes now to write down some of the ‘I can’ts’ replaying in your mind. Then, select one… and take action towards challenging it.

Let me know how you get on in the comments below!


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