GrasshopperNotes.com - Thoughts for inspired living


January 4, 2010

Turn of a Phrase

Filed under: John Morgan's Blog — John Morgan @ 8:21 am

As we turn the page on a new decade, I find it appropriate to turn back to an old expression whose wisdom is timeless – Turn of a phrase.

This idea came to mind when I caught myself “can’t-ing” the other day. It never dawned on me how often “can’t” turns up in conversation – especially mine.

NOTE: Lest you think this is leading to a positive thinking speech, let me assure you I wouldn’t waste your time or mine with such pep rally pap.

This is an exercise in noticing and substituting.

No, you won’t be asked to substitute “can” for “can’t;” you’ll be asked to practice turning a phrase.

Here’s the exercise in a nutshell: Notice yourself saying “can’t” when you’re saying it and then rephrase the same statement to yourself or another with the following phrase:

“I haven’t figured out how to do that yet.”

It’s a powerful way to reframe your thinking towards possibility vs. keeping it in the confines of “can’t.”

“I can’t get this software to work,” “I can’t stop smoking,” “I can’t get up and speak in front of a group” are just a sampling of the “can’ts” that we corner ourselves with.

The phrase “Yes you can” most often engages our polarity and has us become oppositional to whatever has been suggested. That’s why it’s such an ineffective strategy.

“I haven’t figured out how to _______ yet” is a statement of fact that doesn’t close the door on creativity, whereas “can’t” slams it in your face.

“Can’t” becomes a justification for failure and most often keeps us from making any future efforts.

When you turn “can’t” into “I haven’t figured out how to ______ yet,” you turn the tables on “can’t,” and the odds for finding a solution increase.

Turning a phrase is not a magic bullet but it does two things:

  1. Gives you a leg up on the resignation and frustration you experience with “can’t.”
  2. Gives your mind the option of finding options.

Opening your eyes to what’s possible begins with noticing how often you say “can’t.” The next step is to morph “can’t” into “I haven’t figured out how to ______ yet.”

When you notice and substitute you turn “can’t” on its ear, making 2010 a much more productive year.

All the best,

John

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