Can't or Won't?
Your models of reality—how to dress, what success is and isn’t, whom to marry—control how you think about your life and the world, and play a large part in creating the life you live. You inherit your original models from your parents and the culture you grew up in. Left unexamined, they will create a life not wholly your own. To take control and change your life to better suit what you want it to be, you need to replace your inherited models with new ones.
To use a computer analogy, when you can’t get the results you want with the programs you have, it’s time to upgrade!
Identifying and changing your internal programming can be tricky, since it’s woven into every aspect of what you think and do. The good news is you already know your internal programming language – it’s your internal and external self-talk. A quick hack is to look for key words you use throughout your day. These reveal where you give away your power and choice to beliefs and habits you can change. Let's start with the word “can’t.” When you think or say, “I can’t”, replace it with “I won’t”.
For example, replace:
“I can’t get that promotion” with “I won’t get that promotion”
“I can’t keep with an exercise plan” with “I won’t keep with an exercise plan”
“I can’t be the father I want to be” with “I won’t be the father I want or wish to be”
Using "can't" pushes the blame and agency away from you and leaves you powerless to change, "—Gee, I’d really like to be different, but there’s nothing I can do about it”. “Won’t” brings all that home and turns the beliefs, decisions, and actions that shape your life into a choice.
Some other giveaway words to notice are always, usually, and never. See what it's like to replace "always" and "usually" with "I choose to," and "never" with "won't".
Instead of “I always, or I usually react that way,” try on “I choose to react that way”
Instead of “I never do that,” try “I won’t do that”
Other replacements or substitutes may work better for you, but you get the idea. When you see and accept your current life as the result of your choices, you can start making different ones.
Until next time, enjoy! (If that’s what you choose to do!)