There’s no such thing as I can’t. On the other hand, I don’t want to is something entirely different.
Mr Sexy Pants (MSP) is a canoe instructor. Last year he took me to Canoe Club, where he was planning to teach me how to capsize. Canoe Club is held at the swimming pool of a local school. I remember it was in the middle of winter and it was flipping freezing. Luckily the swimming pool was well heated.
As I sat there in the canoe waiting to learn how to capsize, I became increasingly nervous. MSP was proudly introducing me to the other canoe instructors.
“Have you met my girlfriend Sam?” I loved that he seemed so proud of me. “I’m teaching her to capsize” he said.
I grinned nervously and told them how nervous I was. In my head I was saying to myself “I can’t do it, I can’t do it, I can’t do it,” over and over again. Then it struck me! I remembered a presentation I’d recently been to about the power of positive thinking by coach and therapist Linda Barbour. I changed my script to “I am strong and brave, I am strong and brave, I am strong and brave”. Suddenly I felt able to do it. The nerves will still there but it became manageable.
Fast forward a few months and MSP took me to Winter Camp with the scouts. Note to reader, Winter Camp is much better than it sounds. It was indoors. The building was centrally heated. We had a room to ourselves. It was a family camp, so the parents took responsibility for their “little darlings” as MSP calls them. In the evenings we played cards and board games, ate cheese and drank port.
One of the activities was abseiling. Surprising to all, especially me, I had once managed to abseil in my youth. I was keen to have another go. As I waited for my turn I was quite scared, so I kept repeating, “I am strong and brave, I am strong and brave”.
As I went over my legs were shaking and I was really scared. It wasn’t as easy as I remembered. “How the heck do I keep my feet on the wall?” I thought to myself, as I scrambled back up.
“I can’t do it, I can’t do it.”
“You can do it,” they all cried in unison. “Have another go.”
“I probably can,” I thought, “but do you know what? I don’t want to.” A lightbulb went off. A Eureka moment. Once I told them I didn’t want to they all left me alone.