“I Could Never Do That” and Other Fallacies We Believe”

Family & F.I.T.  |  Debbie Hatch

As a public speaker, I have been on the road an average of 200 days a year for the past twelve years. Unlike many business travelers, I go out into the local area.

Albuquerque, NM

Albuquerque, NM

I see the sites. I check out restaurants, gyms, and local parks.  I drive a motorcycle (my own and, very occasionally I’ll rent one on the road). I run in the woods and hike

Northfield, VT

Northfield, VT

mountain trails. I try new things. I go new places, even in different countries.

By myself.
I’ve had several people ask, “how can you be so brave?  I could never be that daring.”  The statement always surprises me. First, because I certainly don’t see any of these things as requiring bravery. I am “just” living my life. Every day that passes has passed. Imagine if I simply sat, in complete solitude, in my room, for hundreds of days every year. More than a decade of my life would have slipped away from me that way.  This mother’s day would have passed that way – with me sitting in my hotel alone.  

How incredibly sad.  But it won’t go that way.  It doesn’t.  I am going “out there”.  I am experiencing life, fully and with a ton of passion.  I will NOT. I refuse…. to just sit in my safe little hotel, work on my computer, and look at the world through the window.

Dublin, Ireland

Dublin, Ireland

Another reason I find the question odd is that – while I do get nervous and, in fact, get scared sometimes, I do not ever want that fear to control my life. Could something happen to me? Sure.
Could I fall down the stairs at my hotel?
Could the plane crash?
Could I get in a car accident?
Could I simply die in my sleep?
Yes to all of those things. And I have little to no control over any of it so why would I spend even a few minutes of my life worrying about them?  That (a) will not stop it from happening if that is what’s to be and (b) detracts from today, even when nothing “actually” happened.  
Linville, NC

Linville, NC

When I was a much younger woman, my sensei told me,
FEAR is False Events Appearing Real.
I believe that with every bit of my heart.  
In scary situations, I repeat it to myself.  Over and over if necessary.  
“Could this happen? Yes. Have I been afraid of this before? Yes. Has this ever happened before? No. Is it likely to happen (aka am I putting myself in an unreasonably dangerous situation)? No.”
Moab, UT

Moab, UT

For example, I have a fear of heights. Or rather – that’s what I used to call it. Now I call it a fear of falling because that’s really what it is. I’ve been on a lot of high places. Have I fallen? Only that time I jumped out of the bungee bucket……..  [THAT was brave – and also more than a little crazy]….and I intentionally did that.  

<==  This picture (and every single one that I see of Delicate Arch) makes me sad because it is one day that I didn’t dare to cross the chasm (you can’t see it in the picture because I zoomed in) and stand under the arch for a picture.  
My heart was beating too fast.  My breathing was irregular.  I was overtaken by the fear.  I turned back and – ever since – I have regretted it.  I don’t know if I’ll ever get back there.  There may not be a chance for a “do-over” but if there is….I WILL go.  I WILL stand under the arch.  I WILL cross that precarious ledge on my hands and knees if I have to.  There will be no regrets next time.  
THAT is what makes me climb mountains, jump on ledges, and stand close the the edge. I want to experience life.  All of it!  I don’t want to see pictures and regret being too scared.
Salem, VA

Salem, VA

Finally, I think you sell yourself short when you say, “I could never”.  I think that’s a bunch of crap, but I hear it frequently.
“I could never find the time to eat right”
“I could never make the time to exercise”
“I could never spend the time taking care of myself”
“I could never be so daring”
“I could never do……that…..”
Hot air balloon (yup...afraid of heights!) Woodstock, VA

Hot air balloon (yup…afraid of heights!) Woodstock, VA

How does it make you feel when you say those words out loud?  
Does it empower you or make you feel less than?  
How is it that other people are doing it but you “can’t”?
Where is the thought coming from?
Is it left over from your childhood?  From a bad experience?  From something in your past?
What (or rather who – and you already know the answer if you’re honest) is limiting you NOW?
“I could never” is a thought.  It’s not a factual reality.
I guess maybe that’s how I am “so daring”.  I don’t think, “I could never”.
I think “I have never, but…”
[To be clear, there are, of course, some things outside of my realm of possibility.  At this point, I cannot be a professional MMA fighter (but I could train).  I cannot fly a plane (but I could take lessons).  I cannot be in the Olympics (but I can participate in the sports I love).  I’m talking about the every day things in our lives.  The things that many people are doing.  The things that you could do if you just gave yourself one tiny little bit of encouragement.]

“I could never” though is a story and it may be on perpetual repeat in your head.

In the woods, alone, outside Concord, NH

In the woods, alone, outside Concord, NH

What if you heard the thought though, and instead you asked, “why not?”
What if you asked, “Why do I think I can’t do it?  What would it take for me to accomplish this?”
What if you yelled back,
Oh ya?  Watch this!
I haven’t done it yet but I am willing to learn, and give it a try.
You’ve done things in the past you didn’t think you could do.
We all have.
You’ve given yourself a chance to try.
Sometimes you’ve even surprised yourself.
How did THAT make you feel?
The typical answer is something along the lines of “strong” “amazing” “empowered”.
Let’s have more of that!!!!
  • Try something new this week.
  • One thing.
  • One thing that may make your heart beat a little faster.
  • One thing that might scare you just a little.  Do it any way.
And share that experience with me.  Please!!!
<3 <3

1 comment

    • Sylvia on May 10, 2016 at 04:36
    • Reply

    Did I say those words while you were here? I know I’ve said “I wish I could…” Usually all it takes is do you want to try sledding in the sand? I don’t think I hesitated. I knew it would be fun. It didn’t scare me one bit. I have to admit the sand was harder and more compacted than I thought it would be. But most importantly, I shared the experience with someone I love and trust – someone who believes in me! Thank you, Debbie, for your belief in me.

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