Shape Your Reality With Words – ‘can’t’ to ‘can’


Maggie Sim

Maggie Sim

Did you know that you shape your reality with words, either consciously or unconsciously? You create your world with language.

Do you often hear people say: “I can’t do that.” Or they might say: “It is impossible for me.” These are statements that I used to say a lot. Not anymore, now that I am aware how the language I use shape my reality and create my world. Our language has the ability to enable us or limit us.

Whenever my friends or coaching clients tell me that they CAN’T do something that they need to do in order to get what they want, their language suggests IMPOSSIBILITY when they actually mean something else.

They might mean: “I don’t know how to do that”, or “I won’t do that”. Both statements have meanings that are fundamentally different from “I can’t do that”.

‘CAN’T’ suggests impossibility. For example, you can’t fly with your bare hands.

‘DON’T KNOW HOW’ suggests a lack of skill.

‘WON’T DO THAT’ suggests a choice.

Do you see the difference? I am sure you do.

Using the word ‘CAN’T’ too easily has the effect of limiting us because we are telling our brain that something we want is impossible, when this might not be true.

If what we really mean is “I don’t know how to”, then let’s say it using accurate language which in turn sends a different message to our neural circuitry. We are now faced with new possibilities, such as learning new skills that will enable us to do that something. You have shaped your reality of this situation from ‘can’t’ to ‘can’.

If you mean ‘I won’t do that’, and say that aloud, then what you have just done is to shape your reality from impossibility to choice. That something wasn’t impossible, you just chose not to do that. Perhaps there is something else you want instead, so let’s talk about that something else and how you could get that. Again, this has the effect of opening up more choices and possibilities for you. You have shaped your reality of this situation from ‘can’t’ to ‘can’.

I am convinced that our lives would be much different when we relate better with ourselves, engage in enabling conversations with ourselves, and honour what is important to us. Often, it is hard to hear ourselves speak about ourselves – how we are engaging in self-limiting talk. We could be rather tone-deaf when it comes to our inner conversations.

This is where a coach is helpful – to reflect back to you what he or she heard you say, challenge your language to clarify what you mean, and help you sort through your thinking with questions. Together, we shape your reality deliberately with words. We also build resilience with language which enables us to survive and thrive.

Action: On your own, you could start shaping your reality by paying closer attention to the language that you are using. Whenever you hear yourself utter the words “I can’t…”, pause and ask yourself what do you really mean by that. How is it impossible for you?

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