Hi! I'm Carrien.

The Closed Door In Your Mind

Published 10 months ago • 4 min read


Parenting Coach & Writer

Today's thoughts come from a moment that happened just earlier this week.

I am standing on one leg on a mat. I am holding the toe of my right foot and it’s extended out in front of me. I feel the wobble coming into my standing leg. My muscles burn. My thigh muscle on my extended leg is almost cramping. I feel the words I can’t creeping into my brain.

But I know better now. Those words are often not true… unless I believe them. I push them away from me and focus on one spot in the mountain scene I can see through the window, a small white building shining brightly in the morning sunlight. I focus on it, and on my breath. I press my standing foot into the floor, and lift my chest, finding stillness, holding the pose until the teacher tells us to move.

“Maybe I can.”

Here’s what I know about the words, I can’t.

They are a closed door in your mind. The instant you say those words to yourself, you’re finished. You’ve just made them true.

As long as you believe you can’t do something, you won’t be able find out if you can.

“I can’t do it. It’s too hard!”

Have you ever tried to teach a child to do something, or help them with their homework? You know how much harder it is to help them once they’ve decided it’s something they can’t do. Until they edit the story they are telling themselves about the task, they will struggle and flail, and feel sorry for themselves the whole time they are working on it.

It’s easy to see in someone else, like a 7 year old working on arithmetic. It’s easy to see that if only they would try, and approach the task with a mind open to trying a new thing, they would be able to understand it.

It’s harder to see in ourselves. But we do it to ourselves also, all the time.

Where in your life have you decided, I can’t? When was the last time you revisited that assumption, and tested that conclusion?

Maybe you can.

Three years ago, I could not have held that Yoga pose. I wasn’t strong enough in the right ways. There are balance muscles I didn’t even know I had that needed to be strengthened.

For me, training and challenging my body has been a path to challenging my mind, and rewriting my story.

Some of that is because exercise literally changes your brain. Here’s a fascinating Ted Talk on that subject.

The more I challenge my body, and my brain to do things, to build new neural pathways, to go outside of established modes of movement and thought, the more I see that the limits I have placed on myself and on my life in many areas are not usually true.

If you had told me 3 years ago, when I decided to try Yoga at the beginning of the pandemic, that I would now be at a 4 week intensive Yoga teacher certification course, doing 3 hours of yoga practice each morning, I would have laughed at you. That wasn’t even something it occurred to me to be interested in. I only started Yoga because I needed to do something to help strengthen and lengthen my body in the ways that would reduce my pain when I went for a run. I wasn’t able to balance on one foot, let alone extend the other straight out while holding my toe.

I didn’t expect that practicing Yoga for a short time each day would be another piece in finding myself at home in my body, at home in my mind. I didn’t realize that there was a stillness that I needed and didn’t have and that it could be found at the edge of where my mind thinks, I can’t, and yet, Maybe I can.

It’s not often that we consciously challenge ourselves to walk a different path, to try a different way, to examine our assumptions, and current way of doing things.

But, to change our story, to write a bigger story, to become the hero of our own journey, we have to move outside of the settled and well trodden pathways. We have to leave the Shire. (Fellow LOTR lovers give me a high five.)

Along the way we learn to replace the words I can’t with a different story, one that includes words like maybe, and I’ll give it try.

This week I tried at least 5 poses that I’ve never done before. Two of them, I was able to do right away. As I was in the pose, I heard the disbelief in my head, my brain saying to me, “We can’t do this. How are we doing this?”

That was when I had to edit my story, again. I can actually do that thing I thought I would never do.

There were a few more poses that I didn’t do successfully… yet. I will keep trying. Because I know that maybe, with practice, I can.

Challenging the narrative of I can’t is key to building a growth mindset, for you, and your children. For things that you have already tried, and find difficult, just add one word. I can’t… yet. But, if I keep trying, maybe I can.

What do you think? Are there closed doors in your brain that you haven't examined in a while? Does it help to shift the way you think about it to I can't do that... yet?

Love, Carrien

ps. I am at this Yoga teacher training for another 3 weeks. I am still working on the Big Story, Big Life, 8 Week Family Narrative Reset course though, a bit more slowly. Editing your story, to make room for things that maybe you can do, is a piece of what this course is about.

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Hi! I'm Carrien.

I help parents raise resilient children, without feeling overwhelmed, so that they can be brave to try hard things.

I'm a writer, parent mentor, and resilience coach. My passion for helping parents to protect their children and raise them to be resilient has extended to creating resources that have helped thousands of refugee and migrant families on the Thailand/Myanmar border through my work with The Charis Project. - I am also the mother of 6 amazing and rather resilient humans, who have managed to thrive in spite of their unconventional upbringing and being dragged around the world by their parents. - Join me here for words to heal and fill your parent heart and shape the words you give to your children.

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