Those who do not have the power over the story that dominates their lives, power to retell it, rethink it, deconstruct it, joke about it, and change it as times change, truly are powerless, because they cannot think new thoughts. Salman Rushdie

Everyone has multiple talents and everyone can sing. If you don’t acknowledge your ability to sing because you think you can’t, it will not diminish the singer within you.

One of the common issues that comes up with clients and in workshops is the statement:
It often seems like an unobtrusive statement, and most people accept this as normal and rarely challenge or trace the origins of this belief system. Depending on the situation, this general sweeping statement can (;-)) be disempowering and it denies what we are truly capable of. Sometimes it is said as a defensive measure, as protection, sometimes it is a conditioned way of thinking passed down by parents, social mores and so on. What I have noticed is that the statement in itself is not the problem. It is the emotional tag of incapacity, incapability, inability and all the corresponding emotions that go along with these labels that are the problem.
I cannot relax...
I cannot sleep...
I can’t draw...
I can’t sing...
I can’t write...
I can’t cope...
I can’t love myself...
I can’t stand up for myself...
I can’t afford...
I can’t....

How many “I cannots” do you have in your repertoire? But more importantly how disempowered are you when you give voice to this? Do you say to yourself, “I cannot until I...

Success and Confidence Coaches teach us how to find positive reframes and positive language when meeting our cannots, for example:
Instead of I cannot relax...I am learning to relax...
Instead of I cannot sleep...I can rest...
Instead of I can’t draw...I can doodle and squiggle with style...Etc.

This is very useful. But for some this works only as a temporary measure, despite flicking oneself with a plastic band or using other aids to remind ourselves of our potential and authenticity, the energy of “I cannot” can stay with us like a shadow. One of the ways I help my clients release this pattern is to sneak their “I cannot” gremlins into the light with LiberatingTouch.
As I mentioned earlier, the words of “I cannot” are not in themselves the problem. Sometimes we genuinely cannot. For example at this present moment in time, I cannot run 100 metres in under 10 seconds!! Mr. Bolt can and I love that he can and I can get the thrill of watching him. So for me not being able to run like lightening has no charge, in fact it reminds me of what I can do and this is balance.

Through experience I discover that balance and honesty are the keys to transformation, equanimity and self actualisation. Balance and honesty helps us find that we can. We have been taught to focus on what we cannot for so long, that it has become our reality and this is an imbalanced belief. It is a partial picture. Imagine you are holding the scales in your hands, in one side lies the words I cannot, in the other I can, which one is heavier?

Another discovery I made was that the energy of “cannot” tends to stem from conditioning, probably stored messages in the subconscious mind, while “can” seems to come from possibility, openness and dare i say it from the heart... It is so much easier to “can” when love is involved.

For example, try these phrases and notice where they seem to originate from for you, which of these phrases seems loaded with “history”. This level of recognition requires awareness and honesty because sometimes we are quick to defend our stories and pull away from facing them.
I cannot give this up,
I cannot accept this flaw
I cannot cope
Now try:
I can give this up
I can accept this flaw
I can cope

The best way I know how to transform the heaviness of the “cannot” energy, is to throw the mind into disarray, not to give it linear connections or linear reframes. But to make our minds think of something else unrelated to “the story of cannot” and so bring in an unconnected element and change the balance of power that “cannot” has in our lives to “can”. By doing this we remind ourselves that I cannot and I can are simply stories that we have identified with and become attached to.

So here is the Self help I prescribe for this:

Step 1: Make a list of at least 10 “I cannot....”for eg.
I cannot keep up with all my emails
I cannot make time for...
I cannot live without...
I cannot relax

Step 2: Now a make a list of 10 things that you can do that have nothing to do with what you cannot for eg.
I can tickle my toes
I can arch my eyebrows
I can enjoy chocolate
I can love my.... (cat)

Step 3: Then randomly mix and match the phrases
I cannot keep up with all my emails and I can tickle my toes
I cannot make time for myself and I can arch my eyebrows
More egs.
I cannot afford a holiday and I can brush my teeth
I cannot tell others my talents and I can drink water

Step 4: For the next 7 to 10 days, keep this mix and match list in a place where you will notice it, you can either use EFT with it or as in LiberatingTouch you can hold any sequence of the energy balancing locations while saying the phrases. Notice what happens. Do this a few times and you may even enjoy it. My clients love it and somewhere along the line it opens the door to laughter and who knows what will happen when our whole being resonates with I can laugh, I can cry, I can laugh...for me when I can laugh, i am effortlessly grateful.

I leave with you with a very special intention that many of you know:

God, grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
the courage to change the things I can;
and the wisdom to know the difference.

Ranjana Appoo
Co Creator of LiberatingTouch, The Art of Letting Go, for more information and the Free LiberatingTouch Introductory Guide go to

Author's Bio: 

Ranjana is an inspired and sensitive wholistic health professional. She is a LiberatingTouch*, EFT, Jin Shin Jyutsu Practitioner, and an AAMET certified EFT Trainer of Trainers, Workshop Facilitator, Artist and Health Researcher. She has devoted her life to experiencing and sharing peace, delight, beauty and harmony. She has travelled extensively and lectured in Fine Arts. Ranjana also succeeded in overcoming chronic health challenges and so dedicated herself since 1995 to the study of nutrition, complementary therapies and holistic health research. She compiles a free quarterly newsletter to share valuable health information. She is dedicated to the journey of Self-Realisation and meeting all of life with openness and love. She continues to paint and write.