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My Antidote to “I can’t”

by bevbarnes on February 27, 2014

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I’m embarrassed to admit it.  When I am doing something new or challenging, I turn into a deer in headlights. My natural stress response is to freeze.  This gets in the way of my best laid life and biz improvement plans. The words that are most often going through my head before I start are “I can’t.”

I can’t get organized.
I can’t write a book.
I can’t create something new.
I can’t lose weight.
I can’t get clients.
I can’t market or sell my services.

Can you relate?  My best guess is that about twenty-five percent of people who are transitioning to self-employment are freezers.  (The rest are tornados – I’ll talk about them in a future post.)

Freezers wish they could quit creating their life’s work, because it is so difficult, but they can’t because they are being dragged by a mission or their heart’s desire.  Freezers may have been extremely “successful” in their past corporate lives so they are stumped about why they freeze now when they are finally moving toward their destiny.

Freezers freeze BECAUSE they are moving toward their destiny.

Freezers experience the constant, negative and toxic criticisms of their inner chatterbox.  My usual tactic is to ignore my inner chatterbox and hope it will go away.

But it doesn’t.

“I can’t” goes undercover.  It takes up residence in my stomach.

Because even if I’m no longer hearing the voice, I’m still believing the thought, and my body knows it.

It feels like a gnawing heavy weight pushing me down.

It feels like an ache, like the air is being squeezed out of my lower stomach.  It feels like a moan.

And then it turns to despair, which leads to new, even worse thoughts:

  • Why even try?
  • Nothing is going to change.
  • This will never work.

Notice that at the beginning of this piece I said I’m embarrassed to admit?


The other layer of “I can’t”.

Self flagellation.

Shame that you freeze and don’t jump headfirst into the unknown.

Shame makes you hide your desires, never admit that you really want something, hide that you are even trying. Suffer in silence.

Because if you aren’t really trying, you can’t really fail – because you never gave it your all.

What you need to know is that this way of thinking and feeling is NOT YOUR FAULT. It has nothing to do with YOU.  It is nature’s way of keeping you safe.

You are hard-wired to survive.  Your brain sees this step as a risk and will use ANYTHING to stop you. If you are a Freezer, the more your heart desires this thing, the more distressing emotions you will feel and the more distressing thoughts you will think.

It all starts with a thought (that isn’t true).

It transforms to a miserable heavy and constricted feeling.  Despair, shame, hopelessness.

And that despair drains the motivation that you had.

The result?

You’ll try half-heartedly or you don’t do anything.

And then you beat yourself up about feeling this way and doing nothing.

And the thing you dreamed about, your heart’s desire, doesn’t happen.

That’s the ‘I can’t’ cycle.

“I can’t” is a prediction.  It is future focused.  It is referring to an outcome.  Logically, how do you know you can’t before you actually start?

One thing is sure, if you believe you can’t, you won’t.

So what’s my antidote to “I can’t”?

Three simple words.

I’m doing this.

I’m doing this.

I’m doing this.

I’m doing this – shifts the paradigm completely.  It is no longer a question of ability; it’s about action.

“I’m doing this.” focuses on doing.

“I can’t” becomes mute, powerless.

“I’m doing this” focuses on the now – the present moment – the only place you can actually make change.

“I’m doing this” is already powerful, even if you haven’t started yet.

It creates a powerful intention.

It opens your spirit.

It gives you focus.

It canalizes your energy.

The antidote to “I can’t” is “I’m doing this.”

Just switch your words.

Try it out.  Believe me – it works.

I’m doing this.

I LOVE hearing from you.  What is your antidote for “I can’t”?  Share your insights and comments below on the blog.

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{ 15 comments… read them below or add one }

Lynne February 27, 2014 at 12:32 pm

WOW! Bev,

I already feel propelled as I simply pronounce the words “I’m Doing This”!
The energetic shift is incredible!

Thank YOU!


bevbarnes February 27, 2014 at 2:48 pm

Deceptively simple isn’t it Lynne! You are so welcome.


Sonja February 27, 2014 at 1:14 pm

Perfect timing! I have been frozen for a long time and now… “I am doing this!”
Thanks for your words of wisdom!


bevbarnes February 27, 2014 at 2:49 pm

Congratulations Sonja! Great to hear from you.


Jackie February 27, 2014 at 1:18 pm

Thank you, Bev! The revelation that I’m a “freezer” in my business has helped me SO MUCH because now I can understand & RECOGNIZE this ‘I can’t’ cycle. And I wish I could include the picture here but as you know my “I’m DOING it!” sign has been hanging proudly above my desk since I got back from Make it Work in Portland–I even send myself little alerts on my phone every so often to make sure I remember! 🙂


Tari Heap February 27, 2014 at 2:18 pm

OMG ~ Soooooooooooooo me! Very helpful and elegantly simple to use. thank you!


bevbarnes February 27, 2014 at 2:49 pm

Love that simplicity Tari. The mind tries to complicate things 🙂


Katie Bagby February 27, 2014 at 7:02 pm

Bev! This is brilliant! I just felt my energy physically shift and a smile snuck onto my face. Thank you! I’m doing this! xo Katie


Anick February 28, 2014 at 12:28 am

Oh Bev, you are so spot on today.
I’ve been wondering about taking a course for the last week and just felt frozen in the I can’t do this, afford this, make time for this… And the “What if”… I fail, I look stupid, I get in debt and what if it wasn’t worth it… Yukkie stuff!
I’m doing this!
Thank you 😉


Karla February 28, 2014 at 2:45 am

Hi Bev, Love your post! I had just won a victory with an ‘I’m doing this’ over my Freezer ‘I can’t’ about thirty minutes before reading your post. Needless to say, feeling even better about my decision, thanks for sharing and putting a little magic in my day 🙂 Best, Karla


Michelle Reinhardt March 1, 2014 at 5:17 pm

Brilliant Bev!! Love this and as you know can SO relate to deer in the headlights. What an amazing article(like all of your amazing articles :)). Cannot wait to play with this. The other thing that usually does the trick is to think about doing something that my future self would be so excited about. Plus, I also love when you asked me the other day that if I took all the chatter out of it what actions would I be taking. SO helpful!! Love ya Bev!! xoxox


Steph March 3, 2014 at 6:47 pm

Oh Bev,

I have been a freezer too! It is so important to acknowledge exactly where we are at. Anything else and we land in the awful spiral of fighting with reality.

Thank you for your light, wisdom, and vulnerability!


Maureen Doyle March 6, 2014 at 10:04 pm

Wow! I just love this! It was perfect timing for me – as a matter of fact – all of your blogs seem to come to me at just the right time! I have been frozen for awhile and will be chanting “I am doing this” mantra daily! Thank you! So very helpful


Paula Boylan March 14, 2014 at 7:17 pm

Thank you for this post Bev and thank you to Jackie Johnstone for sharing it on face book so I could find it. It is truly amazing how paralyzing fear is. I have found it helpful to close my eyes and imagine the very worst thing that could happen if I “Just Do It” (shout out to Nike there). I take the fear as far as it will go in my imagination and then I accept that even if the worst were to happen, I would still be here and I would still be OK. After all, I’m still here and I’m still OK! AND I’m sure I’ve tackled far worse in my life than let’s say…attending that scary networking event…and survived to write this today.
Let’s put fear where it belongs…and live this life full out 🙂


Elloa March 15, 2014 at 7:59 am

I’m definitely a freezer! Thanks so much for this post – I am going to use these three little words again, and again, and again. Your insights are always spot on for me, Bev x


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