Clear Your Mind of Can’t- Defeating a Can't Mindset

Too often, amazingly creative people with God-given talents and hard-earned skills stop chasing their dreams and goals and begin embracing a heart-breaking, destructive Can’t Mindset that stops the actions and activities of moving toward what the doer is ready to start - the process of working toward a goal.  

Letting go of your passion or snubbing out the fire of a new pursuit, which may be the exact purpose God made you for, can be spiritually debilitating, last a lifetime, crush self-confidence, put a damper on your enjoyment in life, and ruin the health of your relationships.

So, what makes you quit? What makes you believe you CAN’T find financial and professional success in a goal you once had or would like to set sights on? What makes you decide to disengage from your spouse, stop making family plans, put off buying the home you’ve always wanted, or sabotage your aggressive savings plan. What makes you decide you CAN’T learn a new skill to change professions, participate in a new hobby/interest, join a church family, learn to pray, or take full care of yourself? When did you Can’t Mindset show up and are you willing to endure hardship, disappointment, loss or pain to change the direction of your life for the better?

The root of most failure is telling ourselves that we CAN’T. CAN’T merely implies you don’t have the ability to succeed and, realistically, we all need to acknowledge and accept the things in life we have no ability to accomplish. However, when it comes to choosing to stop moving toward a goal, a Can’t Mindset is our favorite default to “opt-out” of finishing the things we start – things that are still extremely important to us. The Can’t Mindset is suffocating and debilitating.

Buying into a Can’t Mindset merely means choosing not to manage our anxiety surrounding the process of starting our goal and sticking to it or believing the negativity that others say as truth. Can’t means that we don’t want to choose to confront our fear of failure, that we are afraid that we may need to settle ideas about being shamed or embarrassed by others or that we may need to deal with feelings of guilt surrounding the goal which may compete with other responsibilities in life. “Can’t” means that we have decided (and shared with the world) that we simply won’t.

Telling ourselves or listening to others tell us that we can’t (and believing it) means we are allowing ourselves or others to settle into the slow sabotage of self-doubt and limitations that prevent us from growing, maturing, and becoming the person that we need and want to become; the person that God commands us to be.

Do you see the point? Your ability is not the thing that causes you to quit or fail, your choice to believe that you will finish or succeed is what can make or break you.  

To begin the process of accomplishing great things in your life and those whom your life touches, Clear Your Mind of Can’t. “Can’t” is the most damaging word in humanity, yet we say it to ourselves all day long. We see examples of what we can’t do every time we pick up a magazine or turn on the television. The Can’t Mindset perpetually keep us from pursuing our goals and accomplishing amazing things in life. So, we have a choice to make, we can either identify the thoughts that start the process of anxiety in us that makes us say Can’t, or we can choose and learn to embrace an empowering attitude of productive thoughts which will change how we respond productively to fear and the Can’t Mindset.

Embracing an “I CAN” attitude is the foundation for goal attainment. However, recognizing and confronting the initial signs of a Can’t Mindset is an important thing to master; below are a few thoughts notorious for creating a Can’t Mindset and stopping progress toward your goals. This is what not to do as you initially set out to achieve your goals:     

-Telling yourself, “I don’t deserve this.” Naming all of the people around you that you think are more worthy than you and more capable.

When you begin to succeed in something or you begin to find happiness in your marriage or you find a wonderful partner, you put an end to the relationship, you create misery in it, you quit a great job, cancel a job interview, won’t move to a new home or a new state or country that you’ve always wanted to live in, you refuse marriage, family or individual counseling to implement new ways to think and new actions to take to open your life to experiencing maximum reward and satisfaction. You simply believe you are underserving or unworthy of success and happiness. I’ll tell you now, you are worthy.  

-Telling yourself, “I don’t know where to start.” So, you tell yourself it is too complicated to set the plan for success up so why start your goal at all? It’s a waste of time and energy and maybe even money. Right? Wrong!   

When you sit down to map out a plan toward your goal, you become overwhelmed at the many things that might need to change in you or around you or with others for you to achieve success. And, you may feel disorganized. You begin to feel anxious and, instead of controlling the anxiety with rational thinking or actions that work to reduce your stress, you allow yourself to get overwhelmed and so, you stop.  You refuse to work hard on getting organized in your thoughts and actions to make your goal start smoothly and end successfully. I think we can all relate to this one.

-Telling yourself, “I can’t control the outcome.” So, you convince yourself it will fall apart if you are not the constant epicenter of action – so why bother? Only I can do it the right way.

You won’t even try because you have already told yourself that, unless you know everything possible that could go wrong with reaching this goal, and unless you have the fix-it plan already laid out in advance for any issue along the way that could possibly come up to make goal achievement impossible, you prefer the safer plan of not placing yourself in an uncomfortable, unpredictable, unwinnable situation. You assume the worst, and, therefore you won’t implement an action plan to begin with. It’s unrealistic not to expect to meet and deal with challenges one by one as they come up. Is there any growth, wisdom, or maturity to experience by not taking a risk jumping into a pros and cons outcome scenario?    


-Telling yourself, “I failed. It’s all my fault.” You tell yourself it is better not to have to deal with feeling any shame, embarrassment, or guilt. Bottom line, you don’t want to fail because of the fear you may have to suffer as a result of your failure, somehow. All great renewals or renovations begin with a set-back, need for change, or a failure that once happened. Ponder on this.

Feeling like you are incapable of doing something right seems like a great reason to stop. It keeps you from having to work through the things that went wrong, grow in your understanding of how to do things differently in the future, and keeps you from being hurt or suffering hardship. Life is unpredictable. There are multiple things that can go wrong when you start your goal but living in the realm of accepting failure, having to accept blame, being shamed or feeling guilt, embarrassment or being incapable to forgive yourself is not an appropriate way to start a new challenge. Blame, shame, guilt, embarrassment are unacceptable “outs” and are common excuses (among many more) often used to stop preserving and get on with doing the hard work, physically and emotionally (and possibly spiritually) to stay with your goal. Negative self-talk, when done repeatedly, becomes your default way of thinking and becomes harder and harder to overcome if steps are not taken to stop and forever change the negative pattern.  


-Telling yourself, “It’s okay not to change.” You rationalize that changing is not necessary and you are okay just as you are.  So, why go       after a new goal if I have to change myself in the process? Everyone else can change.    

No, it is not okay to not change. It is not okay to want to not be changed by life and the maturity process that comes with setting and reaching goals. Change is inevitable and often, we decide to not attempt a goal because we are anxious about the changes we may have to do and accept in ourselves in order to reach our goal. You usually do not come out the same way that you went in when diving into a challenge. We might also be pressured by loved ones not to pursue a goal because of their fear or anxiousness surrounding the change they will see and experience in us as a result of goal attainment. Learning and accepting how to use change to your advantage and for the good of the important family and friends around you is imperative. Are you willing to take the risk of undergoing transformations related to you reaching your goal that has the potential to raise you above your current comfort zone, degree of contentment, level of peace and happiness? When I was a child, I remember my mother would often say, “Change is good.” At the time I didn’t get it, but I see it now.   


-Telling yourself, “I’m already bored.” So, you stop and look for something or someone else; something or someone else that may be “better”.  

Many people stop reaching for a goal or stop setting goals due to boredom. It seems unimaginable but, all too often, some people become bored when they lose the ability to control others or outcomes, when the need for change from outside influences is imminent but the attitude to the change is resisted, or when an individual who is most comfortable living in chaos and confusion becomes aware that their goal is not achievable amongst an unpredictable and instable mind-set or environment. Positive, challenging goals must have order, intentionality, and constant well-planned attention and dedication in order to be attainable. When the going gets tough, the tough get going. This applies to stopping a goal as well as sticking with it. Which one do you relate to? Or, are you already bored?   


-Telling yourself, “I can’t do this.” So, you don’t try in the first place.

Many times, we believe we can’t do something simply because we are afraid of failure. This is problematic. Very few goals are failure-free along the way. In addition, without failure, success and even perfection can’t be achieved. Is it perhaps that your “Can’t Mindset” is really about self-preservation or pride? Protecting yourself from being held accountable for failure will keep you from your goal follow-through.

An amazing author by the name of Dallas Willard wrote a book titled, Renovation of the Heart. In this book, he explains how, as human beings, we have ultimate freedom and great power in our ability to select what we will allow our minds to dwell on.  It is important that, in order to experience any positive change in your life or to open the door of your life for the opportunity to feel connected to your purpose, to feel passion that pushes you to explore a new interest, to connect with new people, or enrich existing relationships around you, you have to find ways to clear your mind of can’t – to be the gate-keeper of things you see and hear or believe that make you doubt your ability or worth and ultimately sneak in and cause you to choose quitting. Turn self-criticisms and your tendency toward a Can’t Mindset to healthier ways of helping you be your best – for yourself, your spouse, your family, and for the communities in which you work and serve. 

Here are a few simple things you can practice to Clear Your Mind of Can’t and to begin the journey of cultivating an automatic mind-set where productive, encouraging attitudes are automatic and help you thrive so goals can take root and produce small successes or major miracles.

  • Dwell on the things you have done right. Dwell on the things you can be proud of.
  • Be kind to yourself. Take good care of your body, mind and the spirit that God has given you.
  • Forgive those who have hurt you. Nothing good grows in unforgiveness. Forgive yourself. Remember that people are human and grace is severely needed in this world.  
  • Life is busy. So, make a verbal list of the things you are grateful for each day. Remind yourself of these things in a quiet moment as part of your goal preparation.
  • Remind yourself in prayer or meditation of the positive truths about who God or your Higher Power or Life Force says you are. It is good. God does not make junk. Every day we get to choose who we will be and how we will show up in the world around us. Take advantage of a new beginning every hour and every day.
  • Believe the compliments from others. They give life. Build others up. Encouragement is desperately needed.  
  • See the beauty in the world around you and in others. We need one another to function on our own and as a whole according to God’s plan. We are all at various stages of righteousness in this world. Extend grace and expend effort on cultivating a rich prayer life for others. We achieve more blessings in our life when our focus is on the life of others.

Reaching your goals by managing a Can’t Mindset requires us to be willing to partake in a struggle or experience pain in order to experience success on the other side of effort. To reach a challenging goal and to grow from it into a healthier, happier, more fulfilled individual requires a mindset of intentionality and readiness to act against self-defeating, self-sabotaging dialogue or activities that keep us from our goal. Remember that it is never too late to change your mindset. Setting up your internal environment (in your mind, body and spirit) for success and happiness is an intentional, gratifying process that takes patience and persistence. 










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