You know, when you look at a daunting task in front of you and your face loses all its pigment because you have no idea how you are going to do it
When this happens to me I frustratingly say (sometimes while stomping my feet), “I just can’t do this.” I look at the task ahead of me and I simply think I just can’t! Other thoughts start coming up to support my claim that I am not fit for the task. I am not good at these things. It is too hard to figure out how to fix it. It is way too heavy for me to lift. It is way over my head. It will never work out.
Have you ever had the same thoughts? Have you ever had the experience of, despite being a pretty capable person, there are some things you simply feel you cannot do?
You are not alone!
We all have these limiting beliefs. We all have stories we tell ourselves about our capabilities. Like your childhood bedtime stories you still remember by heart (Goodnight Moon, anyone?), the more we tell them the harder they are to shake.
Now, you might be thinking that even if it is a story it is an accurate representation of reality. I hear you and I know that not everyone can do everything that is set in front of them. Asking for help is key (read my blog about that here). But, let’s see what happens when we attack the stories we tell ourselves about “I can’t.”
Recently I had to move a heavy antique armoire with my partner. I looked at the wooden giant and automatically thought I could not do it. I noticed this thought and said to myself: “This is a big task and feels overwhelming, let’s break down the steps I need to get it moved. I listed them: pick up the heavy armoire, move it 20 feet, place the furniture down, and turn it upside down. I said to myself, “I can do the first step at least.” I picked the furniture up, walked 3 feet and set it down. I looked back at where I had started and realized I had moved and gotten closer to the goal. I then walked another 3 feet and suddenly was 6 feet from where I had started.
By breaking the task down into 3 feet at a time I was able to do it! My limiting story was that I could not do it, but I taught myself that I could do it if I did it in smaller pieces.
Almost daily in my clinical practice I am suggesting clients break their big tasks into smaller pieces. Our limiting beliefs tell us we can’t do overwhelming acts, but once we break them down we can accomplish anything. After all, big tasks are just small tasks piled on top of each other.
Is there a goal that you are telling yourself there is no way you can accomplish? Meeting a romantic partner? Getting a new job? Moving to a new city? We want to hear about it – and if you think it can’t be broken down into smaller pieces comment on this blog and we can help you break it down.