I’ve been thinking for a while of our collective tendency as a society to think that we can’t. Over the past year I have become more and more aware in my own life how often I say it, or think it, or even sometimes let it dictate what I do (or rather, don’t do). And I’m sure that I’m not alone. I wouldn’t be surprised if one of the top negative mantras people tell themselves is “I can’t”.
I can’t do that. I’m bad at that. I’m not as good at that as you. We are always selling ourselves short, sometimes before we’ve even had a chance to try.
This weekend I had the incredible privilege of being a part of and witnessing a group of people venture out of their comfort zones into something many of them thought they couldn’t do, only to come out the other side realizing that in fact, they could.
For my Pranalife Yoga Teacher Training this weekend, we worked with a voice coach and one by one, each of us had to get up in front of the group and sing a few bars of a song of our choice. Naturally, I was terrified. Immediately, that running dialogue started in my head: I can’t sing. I definitely can’t sing without music. I can’t remember rhythm. I can’t sing a good song. I can’t sing in front of people. I can’t. I can’t. I can’t.
One by one, we went up and I could tell I wasn’t the only one thinking those things. It was so strange to watch – we could all get up there and do weird things with our faces, hang out like monkeys, moo like a cow, but as soon as we were asked to sing, this panic-stricken look would flash across our face. It’s almost like our society has somehow ingrained within us this idea that singing is reserved only for the most talented and if you don’t have an incredible voice or you didn’t take music lessons, then you’re just not allowed to sing. You just can’t.
But then we’d sing. The voice coach would give us a few tips (a lot were about controlling our nerves and breathing), we’d work on them, and we’d sing again. And wow – what a difference in the quality of that song (and really, the biggest thing that changed was our confidence). By the end, the energy in the room and within me was so powerful, so strong, and it was saying “Actually, we can.” You may not be the best at something, but you can still do it.
Our homework this week was to choose one bad habit, one thing that no longer serves us and clean it up. After this weekend, I’ve found my bad habit, my thing that no longer serves me: selling myself short.
I’ve decided that that voice in my head that doesn’t think I can do it, that feels like it has to apologize if something I do isn’t, or might not be, perfect, doesn’t get to be at my roundtable anymore. It doesn’t get to make decisions. Because that voice is wrong, that voice is just fear trying to keep you where you are, that voice is your ego afraid of what might change if you dare to step into who you really are.
And if you have a voice that tells you that, it’s wrong to. And I dare you to challenge it. I dare you to stop thinking that you can’t. When that voice comes knocking and says that you can’t, I dare you to tell that voice that it is wrong, tell that voice that you absolutely, most definitely can. Say it loud. Say it over and over, as many times as you need to until you start to believe it. You are an incredible, amazing, awe-inspiring being full of infinite potential. All you have to do is try.