Taking Off the ‘t’

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Can Do Mindset

When you catch yourself thinking I can’t… adjust your course.

Of course, it might be true: but if you don’t even question the validity of the thought I can’t… then you lose the chance to perhaps can.

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT)* is the cheap therapy of choice in the UK.
It sounds very fancy but is actually very simple. CBT is in essence someone challenging you to see something from a different perspective. By challenging a thought when it occurs, you can at least question the validity of whether you can or cannot do something about it and if it is worth your time and effort to ruminate on it or not.


A scenario:

What happens when you walk past someone you know, you say hello and they don’t respond? A person with anxiety and catastrophising tendencies can see the outcome there as one-dimensional without any positive outcomes. Some reasons for being ignored might be concluded as:
A) They don’t like me
B) They’re annoyed at me
C) Someone has spread a rumour

Notice the negative bias and load.
Like kinetic energy waiting to be released (which has a positive energy) for the anxious it can instead manifest as a cascade of spiralling negative thoughts just waiting to be triggered by events as in the example above.

The result can be questioning the self, replaying events in a desperate search to find incriminating evidence that we had indeed done something to deserve being ignored by the person we know, which to illustrate, is like arresting your self, hauling your self in front of a court room, where every person in there is you in a Being John Malkovich type of way, and you are guilty by default because the thought process, the life long narrative is that everything is your fault, so of course it is again your fault this time.

In actuality, the other person was perhaps having a terrible day and was totally preoccupied, leading to the (anti) social encounter in which they didn’t greet their friend.

The scenario also delves into adaptability and flexibility of thinking as well as Emotional Intelligence (EI).
What can we conclude from our past experiences? Can anything previously witnessed explain what happened? And ultimately, is it that big a deal that we weren’t acknowledged?
A far healthier response instead of internalised embarrassment and anxiety would be to think, maybe they’re having a shit day, and frankly if they’re annoyed at me for some reason, I can’t think of any reason why that might be, they can go fuck themselves.
And if a reason comes to light later on, it can be dealt with then.

I can’t understand why they didn’t acknowledge me in this case is fine. Maybe we’ll never know, and really it doesn’t matter unless it becomes a repeat pattern in which case we can investigate.


Mind Text

Back to eliminating I can’t from your predictive mind-text.
You can modulate your thought patterns only if you’re aware of them in the first place. So much thinking is automated and running buggy, virus laden software that’s totally outdated and/or useless. The reason for your shitty automated updates is for another time. The key component is to be aware, and bring awareness to the language you use with your self.

And eliminating a can’t isn’t necessarily straight forward.

If your thought is I can’t…
…go to the gym.

Well, perhaps that’s true if there isn’t one within viable travelling distance. Or you don’t have the money to sign up. Or any other legitimate reason.
But if for instance, you feel you cannot go to the gym for psychological reasons, then the I can’t needs to be changed to I can’t go to the gym…until I overcome my social anxiety. And you tackle a deeper lying issue that is preventative, thereby getting to the gym once anxiety is tamed.

First steps may be; making effort to socialise more; to get outside more; to question existing beliefs and their validity; to tackle some traumatic events in therapy with a good specialised therapist.
Then starting to go to the gym early/late when there’s not many people around.
Then starting to go once a week at a busier time, and then you get to the point there is no barrier to going to the gym at all beyond motivational factors.


Focused Attention

Give every I can’t the microscope treatment. Get micro on it!
Zoom in, examine it, deliberate, think, write down notes, process the validity of it.

While on this topic, never allow a temporary emotional or physical state to dictate your future actions or plans. For example, you feel sick for a day or two and low in energy it’s very easy to interpret that temporary state in the context of future plans with the effect being demotivational within the realm of personal dialogue such as I can’t…do X…
Tell your self, I don’t have the energy now because I have X, but I’ll be fine soon and I’ll deal with X on the day.

A large part of I can’t thinking is a learnt response from your environment, simply a click-whirr automatic response as described by Robert Cialdini. When you go looking for things you cannot do, you’ll find plenty.

If you eat enough misfortune cookies, you’ll find the answers you’re looking for.

A big part of personal development is about defining your parameters, to investigate the behaviours and thoughts you have that are not helping you and to direct a laser on them.
Only once you’re aware of prohibitive actions, behaviours, responses and choices can you change them for the better. As a life coach, it is my role and duty to guide clients to fulfilment and a brighter future by assisting clients with their life map.

It’s like being a 14th century captain with a rudimentary map of seas and land. Your map can always be improved and added to with details and corrections to what was previously known to make sailing smoother and less perilous. That way you don’t needlessly go crashing into chartered rocks, sandbars and islands.
Just as your map has parts mine does not, my map has elements yours doesn’t, with specialised knowledge that can make your life easier.

*CBT certainly has efficacy, but the outcome for CBT is fairly patchy long term. It is generally more effective for anxiety, with efficacy dropping off after a year of initial treatment. That is to be expected for many therapeutic outcomes – which is why solution based approaches are becoming more popular. Long term fixes are obviously superior to short term ones.
One of the key reasons for its popularity in the terribly funded UK mental health system is that is relatively cheap and easy. But with an overburdened and underfunded NHS in terms of mental health support, and the low ratio of therapists to population means that there are often long waits even for CBT. And of course, the skill of a therapist is crucial also.

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