Stuck? Turn Can't into Can in 3 Simple Steps
Recently, I recorded The Heart Led podcast ep. 17: 3 Quick Hacks for When You’re *in it* because, honestly, we’ve all been there, right? When a thought, feeling or emotion can feel so overwhelming, you freeze. Or semi-freeze. It feels just too much.
In this episode, I break down 3 awesome on the spot do-able steps to help you bring in a solution focused approach.
Today, we're diving into similar direct OH I CAN DO THIS RIGHT NOW support for this same place. The "ah this is terrifying" or "I did not see that happening and now wtf do I do" place. So, the next time you’re stumped by an “I can’t” it becomes a hinge point, a moment to create change, rather than a dead end.
You can use these tools either in a journalling session alone, with a friend or parter, or in session with a therapist or coach. My recommendation is to find a private, quiet space, light some candles and make some time of it. Or just do it on the bus, in your notes app with your mind going 100 miles an hour.
You do you, boo:
1) Finish the sentence.
When you're there, it feels limiting, right? All of a sudden every exit is blocked, the ceiling's caving in and the floor is about to give way. Metaphorically speaking, of course.
The only thing that feels possible in that moment is uttering the words "I can't", then crumbling into a puddle on the floor.
Now, when you first find yourself saying "I can't", take a lil step back.
Out of context, “I can’t” isn’t a complete sentence.
So you start by finishing it, and being specific.
You can’t WHAT?
As two simple words you can say over and over again, "I can't" can form a little cop out, or like a wall to hide behind. Like when a child is crying but not telling you why, it can easily give into the side of yourself that (naturally) wants to be small and hide away.
Imagine you're rushed to the doctors, while writhing in pain, you tell the doctor “I’m hurting”, but not where, she'll be at a loss. But tell her where, in what way - and you’ll start getting the treatment you need.
When you’re asked to finish the sentence, you dig deeper into what the need is. Rather than leaning into a more child like state and wanting to hide.
Writing out as specifically as possible what you "can't" do brings in clarity and understanding. And invite yourself to lean in further.
Rather than just "I can't be alone", add your because; "I can't be alone because I don't want to be by myself again" or "I can't be alone because that means I'm not loved"
2) What can you do.
Now you’ve a clearer understanding of what your need is “I can’t cope alone” or “I can’t keep going into this job I hate”, branch out and see what you CAN do to support yourself in action.
CAN you find a therapist?
CAN you ask a friend for coffee?
CAN you find debt support?
CAN you run a hot bath and soothe yourself?
CAN you take your first steps to finding a new job?
CAN you XYZ?
Chances are, you’ll find yourself mapping 2-5 things you can start on in the immediate future that would bring in your next steps to solution.
When you're mapping your cans, look for solutions that meet the core need. Not just whatever's triggered it this time. For example:
- "I can't stand working for a company I hate" is better met with "I can begin to discover what my core values are and how I'd like those met in work" over "I can find another job"
- "I can't stand to be without them" is better met with "I can find a therapist to discuss how I'm feeling with and explore my relationship patterns" over "I can download a dating app/ring their phone off the hook and beg them to come back"
3) Feel the feels
SO with this in place, you may be rather quickly realising that the “I can’t” isn’t as much about the reality of “I can’t”/there not being options as much as it is how the enormity of the feeling can catch you, and potentially blind you in that moment.
In any work you do with your emotions and feelings, it’s super important not to invalidate them. Leaping from “oh my goodness my whole heart and body hurts” into “omg that was so obvious, why am I being so dramatic” does v.little for resolving long term or supporting you. You don’t need to shame your emotions.
An extreme emotional reaction, or one where you feel completely paralysed by fear, is a normal human reaction. We’re hardwired to have physiological reactions.
Yes, when mapped out like this, a “can” can be found quite readily. But that doesn’t mean how you feel doesn’t matter, or you were somehow being “less” than you should be.
I say this because at any point in your life, you can feel your feels, no matter how much of this solution focused mapping you do. Having the feeling isn’t indicative of you “slipping backward” or not having learned the lesson, it’s part of your body letting you know there’s something to learn or adapt to.
Normalising pain, instead of vilifying it - I know, it’s super uncomfortable, isn’t it - can help support your growth by not immediately rejecting or trying to run away from it. But instead, “what are you showing me?”, “What is it that I’m looking for?” And “how can I help myself from here?”.
You’re not a robot, and frankly, I’m thankful for that. I’m sure you are too. Feelings bring a broad spectrum, and they are an incredible gift. Learning about them and the beautiful language they speak into your daily experience is the breath of life.
For this last step, give yourself permission to feel the “I can’t” without catastrophising. This would look like acknowledging your fear or overwhelm - whew - but stopping short at torturing yourself with how it’s an omen for your future.
Instead, try some kind self talk, like this:
“hey, thanks for showing me that this is scary, I really appreciate that. Now I can put steps in place to help myself feel more capable and supported here.”
For the physical sensations, taking time to breath through and physically move around with the emotion rather than seizing up or curling into bed and crying can be a powerful way to engage differently.
These 3 steps can support you when put in place. But as with all things; they only work if you do them. I know from experience that actually doing them when it matters is the hardest thing of all - because you’re hurting or scared and want to hide.
But give this a go, and you may well see just how differently you can feel in a short amount of time. I for one, would love to know how you get on.