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The Power of I Can

Updated: Feb 23

Rewiring the brain and nervous system takes a lot of work, consistency and repetition. Those things can be challenging even when we are regulated and in a good place physically, mentally and emotionally. They often become much more difficult when our brain and nervous system are in survival mode, especially when we are in a state of freeze or shutdown. (For those of you that are well-versed in polyvagal theory, I use freeze instead of dorsal vagal shutdown to make a complex concept easier to understand.)

One of the common scripts that shows up when we are in freeze is "I can't". Everything often feels like it's too much, too hard, too insurmountable and feeds into the sense of "I can't". This script of "I can't" often keeps us from using our rewiring tools and creates a pattern that feeds itself and contributes to keeping us stuck in the freeze response.

Water crystals exposed to "I can't do it" from Dr. Masaru Emoto's research

on how water is impacted by our words. Our cells are 70% water.

We often start to feel hopeless and helpless because we are not able to use the tools we've been told we need to use, we then feel shame because we aren't doing what we're "supposed" to, and all that further feeds the freeze response. Not a fun cycle, to say the least.

Just stepping into the script of “I can” starts to change the cycle. Noticing when our brain is telling us “I can’t” and gently shifting into “I can” starts to interrupt the pattern. We don’t need to figure out what “I can” will actually look like or take any other action at this point. Trying to do those things right away is often too much and leads right back to “it’s too much” and "I can't". We often get derailed from embracing "I can" because we think we need to immediately spring into action or figure out exactly what we will need to do.

Water crystal exposed to "I can do it" from Dr Masaru Emoto's research

on how water is impacted by words. Our cells are 70% water. 

We also don't have to believe "I can". It is more likely going to feel weird and untrue when we start telling ourselves "I can" when in freeze/shutdown. That's because freeze and "I can't" go together and reinforce each other, but "I can" doesn't. "I can" doesn't align with a state of shutdown, so it will commonly feel like total BS when we first start telling ourselves this. Give it time. Keep gently offering your brain and nervous system a different narrative of "I can" to support your system coming out of freeze.

If you are reading this and realizing that your brain is stuck in a pattern of "I can't", please pause and celebrate the awareness. Seriously, stop reading for a moment and congratulate yourself on this new insight into your patterns. Also, know that it is okay if your brain keeps telling you "I can't". It takes time to shift patterns and "I can't" is merely a reflection of the state your brain and nervous system are in. You can and will change that over time with "I can".

Want to learn more about gently inviting your system out of freeze and other topics related to the recovery process?

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358 views7 comments


Feb 25

Always great insight!!


Feb 21


Thanks so, love this...I will be reading this blog daily.

Linda Stacey

Replying to

You are so welcome, Linda. I'm happy it was helpful! 😊


Thank you for this amazing reminder, Connie! Realizing I was in an "I can't"/freeze state last night and I didn't even think to celebrate my awareness of this in the moment. Your words ring so true when you speak on how difficult it is to shift to "I can" in the moment and how false it feels, but I love the emphasis on the gentle shift. Gentleness and celebration are my takeaways from today's post! <3

Replying to

I'm so glad my post was helpful, Maria. Yay for your awareness and gently stepping into "I can" 💜


Feb 20

Thanks for this Connie. i just had to make a decision about going to visit family which will involve a long plane ride. Pretty challenging . But i said "yes! I recently listened to a meditation podcast where they said "dont' wait until you FEEL READY". I loved this coaching tip about I CAN.

I wish i could do your recovering together group but in Canadian dollars $265 US becomes $357CAD. that is way more than i could afford. but i loved the 3 DNRs groups I😊 did with you. So happy for you to be doing your own coaching program. Carol Hechtenthal

Replying to

Congratulations on saying "yes" and knowing that waiting until you feel ready wasn't the right approach! 💜


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