[De-can’t-ing is part of my desire to “prioritise me” during February.]

I can’t. You can’t. We can’t. But why can’t I, you, we? Maybe it’s not because of the impossible, but rather because there’s so much power in the word “can’t”. And that’s why I’m working to de-can’t my life.

I’ve been told I “can’t” for as long as I remember. Sometimes to keep me safe. (“No, you can’t have a flame-thrower.”) Sometimes to keep me down. (“You can’t read that; you’re dyslexic.”). And sometimes because the law (as it pertains to me today) won’t allow it. (“You can’t vote in the independence referendum.”)

And, in fact, there have been times when being told I “can’t” do something has been the motivation I needed to do something and do it well. From running to education to travelling the world and even finding someone crazy enough to marry me!

Of course, it’s not just others who tell us that we “can’t” do something – we often say it to ourselves. For me, it’s I “can’t” run today because I’m too busy. I “can’t” go out to dinner alone because people will stare. I “can’t” make myself a dress because I’m a rubbish seamstress. I “can’t” swim. I “can’t” have children. I “can’t” do a million little things.

OK, but what is “can’t”? Well, it’s kind of like the sediments that float around in a bottle of wine – drinking it in might not kill you, but it certainly will destroy your ability to fully enjoy life!

To that, my silly little analogy!

To decant is to get rid of sediments that may have formed in a bottle of wine, which can give a bitter taste or a gritty texture, as well as to aerate the wine so that the aromas and flavours are more vibrant.

So then, let’s think of de-can’t-ing as the process of removing the sediments of negativity and frustration. Further, we can think of it as helping to clear our minds so that positive thinking and self-confidence can be experienced.

If you decant a bottle of wine, you can drink it without fear of grit.

If you de-can’t your life, you can enjoy it without believing you’re incapable.

With a bottle of wine, decanting is the (mostly) simple idea of pouring the wine (carefully) into a decanter.

But how do we de-can’t our lives?

Well, I haven’t figured that part out yet! But instead of telling you I “can’t” tell you how to do it, I will offer up some good starting points.

Maybe de-can’t-ing our lives is about moving the can’ts around; about thinking about them differently.

For me, it’s looking at the situation and realising that just because things aren’t easy doesn’t mean they’re impossible.

Taking my list of “can’ts” from above, I can re-arrange my thinking by saying:

  • I “don’t want to” run today because I’m too busy.
  • I “dislike” going out to dinner alone because [I fear] people will stare. [So maybe I need to practice by going out to lunch alone.]
  • I “will need to work really hard to” make myself a dress because I’m a rubbish seamstress [at the moment].
  • I “don’t know how to” swim [yet].
  • I “don’t have the ability to” have [biological] children and will need to investigate adoption when the time is right.
  • I “don’t know how to” do a million little things [yet].

I am really bad about saying I “can’t” do things, even when they’re not impossible. It’s not because I’m trying to be negative, it’s just the way that many people refer to things they’re unable to do at a given moment. But I feel that “can’t” makes us (or at least makes me) feel that the possible is impossible so I am going to work to use more positive language in my own life.

My challenge to you is to try a bit of de-can’t-ing in your life, too. Think about the things you tell yourself you “can’t” do and see if there’s another way to express that. Or think about if there’s a way to do whatever it is you think you can’t.

Oh! And please feel free to share tips and ideas about great ways to overcome the habit of telling myself I “can’t” do things.

[Note: The bottle of wine in this photo didn’t need decanting. It was as easy as opening the bottle, pouring a wee glass, and enjoying the sediment-less goodness and all of its possibilities!]

2 Replies to “De-can’t-ing”

  1. You make great points in this blog. I love how you linked the decanting of a wine bottle to decanting life. I believe you will be able to overcome. You are an amazingly positive person and that is the first step. I think I should start to adopt this attitude more in my life.

    1. Thanks, Ashley! I try to be positive, but if you’ve read through Just Frances enough, you’ll see there is a lot of “poor me” going on. However, there is less and less of that the further I get away from the beginning of my grieving process – though I always try to include some positive in the sad stuff.

      The “de-can’t-ing” thing is such a hard one. I think that I have just got in the habit of saying I “can’t” do something that I begin to believe it. Like swimming. I don’t really know how to swim (I can swim enough to save my life) but that’s not because I “can’t” swim, rather it’s because I’ve never taken the time to learn.

      I want to see if using more positive language in my life will help me to feel more confident about my skills and abilities. I’m going to work really hard at using positive language when talking to others, too. And who knows – maybe that positive language will help someone else realise that they can do something, too!

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