I Think Therefore I Can!

I think I can, I think I can, I think I can….remember the story of the little engine that could. In the story, a long train needed to be pulled over a mountain. All the big engines refused for various reasons. It was the little engine who succeeded in pulling the train over by believing he could by keeping that belief in him alive.

I often marvel at how easily the word ‘can’ slips off the tongue and how much more effort and time the word ‘cannot’ takes, yet we are so quick to say, “I cannot.” Cannot means inability. How, I wonder, does one know that they are unable to do something without testing if they are able to. The “knowledge” of how many things one is unable to do far exceeds the knowledge of how many things one is able to do-generally with no valid proof.

What prompts a person to say, with such certainty, that they cannot? Is it fear of the unknown, fear of failure, fear of stepping out of one’s comfort zone, fear of change? Notice a pattern? Is fear ruling your life, stopping you from fulfilling your destiny, preventing you from living a more enriched life? Is fear preventing you from experiencing the adventure of  life.

The thing about the word cannot is that once you say it, it instantly leads to a belief-a negative belief, a limiting belief. Whilst in some cases it may not impact too seriously on your life, in other cases it just might. The other thing about this word is that once you start saying it, it becomes easier and easier to say it, sometimes without even really giving the activity so much as a second’s consideration. As soon as you say that you cannot, it sets in motion a chain of  events and, like the domino effect, it causes all possibilities to fall away. The word ‘cannot’ refers to inability but leads to disability-the disability to lead a life that explores your fullest potential. It’s a form of paralysis, a self-inflicted paralysis!

Yet, as a child you believe you can…do anything the adult can. Then you do it! One of my favourite NLP presuppositions is that if one human has done it then it is humanly possible, i.e. it can be done. You see this belief in the toddler who can’t wait to wake up every morning to learn new things in the adventure of life. The toddler is so interested in being able to do that there is no doubt that he/she cannot. There is no limit to what he/she can do and he/she tries and tries until he/she can take that first sturdy step, first word, first bite of a strange new food. You see, the toddlers don’t subscribe to ‘cannot’ so they continue trying everything new so that they can learn and grow and experience and become everything that they can be.

The interesting thing about the word ‘can’ is that once you say it, it instantly leads to a belief-a positive belief, an empowering belief and the more you say it, the more you are able to do and the more you are able to enjoy the adventure of life. The word ‘can’ is like the tiny seed which has the potential of becoming a tree. Once it is planted, its natural instinct is to grow. With just a little bit of water, it sprouts and begins its journey of life, continuing to grow until it becomes the tree it was destined to become and even then, it continues to grow more branches each day and, for as long as it lives, its branches grow and spread.

So, connect to the seed of ‘can’ within you and grow into the empowering tree of belief that you can be.

Be like the little engine who could and believe you can, believe you can, believe you can…and you will!

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