Years ago, I had a client who had just gotten out of a relationship. Understandably, she was heartbroken and a little depressed.
So we started talking about her “Joy Juice” – what makes her happy. It took a little bit of digging because when you're in that state, you might forget.
But as we started to find her Joy Juice, for each thing, she would tell me why she couldn't do it.
The first thing was hiking. She would light up talking about how much she loves the mountains and hiking. I said, “Great! When are you going hiking? She said, “Well, the problem with that is I can't go alone. I don't have a boyfriend anymore and something bad might happen to me.”
I asked her if someone else could go with her. “Well the problem is that I don’t have many friends.”
Ok, so we went back to her Joy Juice list. She said she really loved singing. Great! “Well, the problem with that is I don't belong to a choir.” I said, “Okay, where can we find you a choir?”
“Well the problem with that is I don’t belong to a church.”
And it went on and on like this.
She would find something that makes her happy and then have many reasons why she couldn’t do it.
Finally, I called her out on it and she laughed.
She ended up joining a choir, making great friends, and as we got clear on her purpose, she was offered a new job by someone in the choir.
This is super common – not just for her, for all of us.
Our brains are designed as survival mechanisms so they look out for potential threats to stay alive.
So we immediately shut down all new ideas with the dreaded:
I can’t do that because…
Turning I Can’t Around
What if instead of “I can’t do that because…” she said, “How can I?”
What if she asked, “What is possible?”
About 10 years ago, I had a dream that I would spend my birthday in Paris. I was a new coach, just out of grad school, and I wasn't making a lot of money. But I thought, “How can I do this?”
I looked at my airline miles and I was able to get a free flight. I went to Airbnb and there was this tiny 100 square feet apartment – with the toilet was across the hall!! (No joke.)
But I could afford it, so I booked it! I ate a $1 croissant for every breakfast and got a baguette and cheese for about $5 for lunch, or I found a cafe with a complete meal for $10.
I asked how I could make it work and I went!
I just had to do the “How can I?” trick last night.
Last week, I announced my Goddess retreat in Italy and more than 30 women asked for information! Then one by one the majority said they couldn’t make the dates.
I had a moment of thinking – oh no! This retreat can’t happen.
But I felt into my soul and absolutely KNEW that this retreat is meant to be.
I can feel the warm Tuscan Sun on my skin and our private pool at the end of the day. I can see us in circle, hugging and laughing and dancing. I can taste our cooking class and hear our deep transformative work with us all owning our worth loudly! I know this is meant to be.
So instead of listening to my Fear Brain tell me that it “can't” happen, I asked myself, “How can it?”
And it occurred to me: Women can’t make those dates. Maybe they could make it the week after.
I felt embarrassed to tell the women who had already registered but rather than say, “I can’t admit to them that others didn’t sign up,” I decided this was a learning opportunity for us all and shared honestly.
Then I emailed women who had said they couldn’t go about pushing it back a week and within 10 minutes, 4 said “I’m in!”
So just like that, the retreat is now half full!
How can I?
They are powerful words.
Another great example of going from I can’t to I can was during a Paris trip years ago. I saw this little boy with curly hair, wearing overalls toddling around my favorite street, Rue Montorgueil. I looked at this little French baby and I thought I want to live here with my baby one day. And Josh and I had just broken up, so it's not like I had anybody to have a baby with.
But last year just before my 47th birthday and the world was opening again, Josh suggested we go to Paris for my birthday and spend the month there. I got so excited. And then, of course, my fear brain kicked in saying, “We can't do that! COVID! No sitter! Blah, blah!”
We can't, we can't, we can't, we can't.
So I paused and asked what is possible.
As long as we have a place with Wi-Fi, I can see clients there on Zoom. With the time change, I’ll have my days to play and can coach at night.
Then when I realized it was the Jewish holidays, I though we can't go.
Then… how can I? Find a synagogue there! Duh!
And as the universe always does, miracles started to happen. Josh got an email from our synagogue about a sister synagogue in Paris – I can't make this up!
So Josh reached out and they immediately welcomed us to come for the holidays.
It always works out that way.
Say YES to yourself and the path opens.
So many of my clients will say that they desire something – it may be a new job, a new lover, a vacation, to quit their job and follow their passion…
But then they have a hundred reasons why they can’t.
So we brainstorm ideas on how they can.
What little things can they do to move closer to their desire? How could they bring up these conversations in a way that everyone involved will also win? What is possible?
Last story – I started holding retreats in Paris because years ago, I saw that my friend Paula was doing work in Paris. She had this gorgeous photoshoot by the Eiffel Tower, and I was so envious. I thought, “Why does she get to work in Paris? I want to work in Paris!”
And at the time, I hadn't held any retreats. I was just in front of my computer all day long. I was filled with so much jealousy and a little bit of victimhood that I didn't get to work in Paris.
And then I said to myself, “Wait a minute, this is showing me a desire. How can I?”
Well, I had a program called “This is 40,” and that program was ending, so I offered them a Paris retreat as their graduation and a few said yes!! And right then, Goddess Getaway – Paris was born.
I made it up. I asked how can I combine everything I love about Paris into the inspiration, the beauty, the self-love, the purpose? And it's now so incredible because I use the city as inspiration for my retreat.
Same as I will do in Italy!
Our Brains are Designed to Keep us Safe
Here's what we know about the brain. The brain has 600 billion neurons, and the way we learn is that those cells start to get wired together for anything that we think or we see. And the more you see something or the more you think something the more it gets wired. So the more you think, “I can't, because…” the more your brain gets wired that way. But when you learn to catch yourself, and start asking yourself, “How can I?” then that's how you start rewiring.
Marilee Adams wrote a book called Change Your Questions, Change Your Life. And she talks about these two ways that we can go.
- Judger: I can't do this, because I can't do it. Because I don't have money. Boom, you shut the door on the idea. I can't leave my relationship because there are no other good people out there. Boom, you shut the door. I can't date online because people are creeps, boom, you shut the door.
- Learner: Ask questions. How can I do this? What else might be true? What might I ask the universe to show me?
When you truly decide, when you say, “YES, I CAN,” you will be so divinely supported you will wonder why you thought you couldn’t do it in the first place.
The doors to the Italy retreat are open. And later this week, I will be announcing the annual Miami retreat happening in September so if you want in on either of those, email the team(at)purposegirl(dot)com. Hope to see you there!!
So needed this reminder!! “How can I”, this was one of my favorites from our talks in Empowered. I’ve been being the Judger. Thanks for the push to be a Learner.