When faced with something new: an activity, an upcoming event, signing up for school, the gym, confronting someone, etc., I often hear the words, "I can't", followed by some rationalization as to why they actually can't. For example:

I'm too busy.

I won't know anyone there.

I'm too old.

I'm too tired.

I don't want to cause problems.

and copious other phrases.

I've heard individuals actually convince themselves and others that they can't do whatever it is because of some excuse or another. They'll fabricate a really good and rational reason, at least in their minds, as to why they really can't. But if you were to take a closer look and dissect the rationalization, it just wouldn't hold water.

When I was in graduate school, I was asked to apply to be one of the speakers for the Masters Ceremony. I would be one, among several, who would have to write a speech and read it in front the professors and peers. As I drove home after the call, I rationalized in precise detail why I would not be able to do it, why I would have to turn down the invitation. I was too busy. I had to concentrate on my school work, my two-year-old son, work, etc. The list was endless. As I sat at a red light, I took a closer look. Underneath all the fluff was FEAR! Yes, I was afraid to stand in front of my professors and peers and recite a speech I'd written. It was terrifying. It was then that I decided I had to do it. I knew better than to give into my stupid and irrational fear. I called my professor back and with an accelerated heartbeat, said yes to his invitation. I didn't win. I did come in second, however. But the most important thing was that I'd faced my fear and came out on the other side, feeling accomplished and proud.

Most people may not be able to do the self-reflection required to understand what is truly underneath their "I can'ts".

Using the words, "I can't" can actually create a barrier between you and the thing you think you can't do. It's a form of apathy; of self-induced helplessness.

When you are facing a situation that gets an inner rise, you are face-to- face with a Feeling. This feeling creates thoughts, usually negative and very scary in nature. This causes an immediate internal search to end the suffering. Hence, the excuses, rationalizations, etc. But all is not lost.

Behind the feeling, the thoughts, and the words that create the need for the "I can't", is the very real monster called: FEAR.

Realizing there's a fear lurking in the midst, is not a bad thing. It beats staying paralyzed, and fearful of taking a step. It is at least a way of generating some energy. Usually fear, if allowed, can motivate us into some type of action. This is better than remaining stagnant.

Let's take a look at an example. Suppose that you're asked to address your whole marketing team at the next meeting. You are terrified of public speaking. You'd rather jump off the Golden Gate Bridge. But you need your job. You might want to talk to your boss and tell her the reasons why you can't do it. You have a dentist appointment, you're not prepared, you need more time, etc. You just can't!

But what if you were to realize that behind the alleged dental appointment, the unpreparedness, and the time limitations, is FEAR knocking on your heart? At this point, you understand that you CAN do it, you're just scared. You can deal with fear better than you can with the inability to do something.

Once you realize that fear is your companion, the block to your success, you can start doing something about it.

First off, look at it. Of what are you afraid? Criticism, judgment, job loss? Let the feeling rise up in you and let it go. Do this each time the fear comes up.

Picture the worst-case scenario. Are you able to handle it? Think of everything you've handled up to this point. Nothing is so horrible that it will kill you. Not even the presentation in front of your co-workers.

Realize that when you say, "I can't," you're actually saying, "I won't."

Do you actually want to limit yourself in that way?

Think of all the lost opportunities. Will your future self feel regretful?

You are better than you think you are. Give yourself the chance to build confidence and self-esteem. That only comes with saying, "I can."

Give it a go next time you're presented with an opportunity that scares you.

Author's Bio: 

Rossana Snee is a Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist. She is the author of The Healing Alphabet, 26 Empowering Ways to Enrich Your Life.

She is a monthly contributor to the Lakewood Community News, and finds joy on Periscope @askjoshsmom, where, as a Super Broadcaster three times a week, she provides insight and therapeutic advice to her regular followers.

Visit her at www.rossanasnee.com. And check out her new YouTube Channel https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P6debo-OLpU

She endeavors to inspire and motivate, and to be a springboard for her reader's self-growth.