Don't let them tell you can't do something

What To Do When Someone Says “You Can’t’

When someone says you can’t do something you should walk off and laugh.  And laugh some more and get determined.

When someone tells me that I can’t do something, that I will fail, I turn it into fuel.

Negative energy is a challenge to me.

When someone tells me that I can't do something, I turn it into fuel. Click To Tweet

I don’t know if it is a personality trait or a learned behavior but one of the best indicators of success for me is people saying no.  My first memory of this happened one summer when I was 8 or 9.  My brother, who is a year younger than me, and I had asked my dad what chores we needed to do that day.  He told us we had to move the bags of peat moss from one side of the driveway to the other side.  These bags were 50 pounds each and if you stood them on end they were probably as tall as me at the time.

We took my dad seriously (we always took my dad seriously).  As my brother and I were discussing how to make this happen, my mother giggled and said that Dad had been joking and that no one expected us to do it because it would be too hard for us.  CHALLENGE ACCEPTED!

There were six bags. With a two wheel dolly, he and I were able to move 4 of the 6.  We tried our hardest to move those last two but we had lost our leverage.  It wasn’t from lack of trying, we experimented with all different ideas, including trying to hook up our Irish Setter to a large chain and use him as a workhorse.

Even though we couldn’t move them all the take away was ‘don’t try to put limitations on us…look what we can do’.  Ever since I have made it a habit of moving the proverbial bags!

Maybe you haven’t had this type of experience but you can still turn the negativity others pile on you as motivation to get what you want.

How to Convert Negativity to Fuel

First, make sure it is something you really want.  There is zero sense in proving someone wrong by doing something you never really wanted to in the first place.  That’s called ‘biting your nose off to spite your face’. Or a waste of your time.

Second, visualize it.  See what the end results are.  Think about how proud you will feel when you complete it. Picture your own satisfaction in proving said person wrong.  I know this sounds like schadenfreude but it isn’t.  Schadenfreude is taking pleasure in someone else’s misfortune.  There really is no misfortune on their part.  They are trying, for their own personal reasons, well-intentioned or not, to prevent you from attempting your goal, your dream, your idea.  If you persevere it is a celebration of your achievement and no one’s misfortune.

Third, come up with a plan.

Fourth, work the plan.  If it doesn’t work, see the third point and come up with plan B.  Then C.D, E, F, etc., until you find the right plan or until you decide that you don’t really want it anymore. Most worthwhile goals are not easy so you shouldn’t expect this one to be either. Get creative and figure it out.

Fifth, when it gets tough, reevaluate.  Do you still really want this?  Can you visualize it?  Do you have a plan?  Are you working the plan?

What If You Are the One Telling Yourself You Can’t

Sometimes you are the person telling you that you can’t do something.  First of all, is that a rational thought?  Is it really that you can’t do it or is it just that you need information or training?  Is it because you might embarrass yourself? Is it fear talking? 

Maybe you need to talk to yourself like you talk to your friends.  Be a friend to yourself.  You need to make sure that what you say to yourself is constructive.  It’s not just self-help rhetoric, even the doctors agree on that. 

Maybe you are suffering from Imposter Syndrome. Do you think you are fooling everybody and you are going be found out? You are probably over exaggerating and need to get over it. I like what Kristin Wong had to say about what you should say to yourself when you can’t get yourself out of the imposter loop:

“Fine, maybe I am an imposter, but I am going to try to kick ass anyway.”

Whatever your reason may be you need to treat yourself like anyone else. Walk off and laugh. And laugh some more and get more determined.

What to Do When You Succeed

So what should you do when you succeed?

It would probably be prudent if you didn’t gloat aloud.  Gloaters are annoying.   If you are going to gloat do it in the privacy of your own mind.  Get past gloating and celebrate yourself for a bit.  Dance. Sing. High five (yourself is acceptable). Smile.  Cry (the good tears). Hug (a friend is preferable here).  Bask (in the glory). Shimmy.  Vogue.

Savor the moment.  Sit in all those feelings you are delighting in and commit them to memory.  Those are the feelings of accomplishment.

Every accomplishment you make adds to your confidence and self-esteem.  That confidence will propel you to more.  There will be times when there is a wall or a hurdle in front of you, keeping you from what we want.  Those victorious memories will give you courage.  If you’ve done X then there is no reason why you can’t do Y.

Once you are strong, if something goes awry it isn't a failure, it is a learning experience. Click To Tweet

The more memories you collect, the more confident you become.  The more confident you become the more victories you acquire.  The more victories you have the stronger you become.  Strength is good.  Once you are strong, if something goes awry it isn’t a failure, it is a learning experience.

So- Are you going to be strong?  Or just roll over if someone says you can’t?

Excuse me…I have more bags to move.

Photo Credit: Alex Lebedev

How did it feel when you proved someone wrong?


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