You can’t do that! WHAT?

A friend and I were just talking and, I don’t even know how we got on the subject, but we started talking about signing our names…

Weird topic —  but stick with me here and you’ll see why I’m all fired up…

My friend said, “When I was little, I was the girl that would sign my name and take up like half the page when I did it…”

Then she continued…

“Until one day when my grandmother saw me and she said, ‘You can’t do that!'”

You can’t do that…

How many times have you heard those exact words?

How many times did you hear them — or something a lot like them — before you were 10 years old?

I guarantee you can’t count how many times!

And here’s the deal…

When people say that to you, for the most part, there really truly are trying to protect you from something (at least in their own minds)…

But let’s get real…

YOU CAN’T DO THAT has to be the worst 4 letter phrase around!

Then my friend said the most amazing thing — and this is the thing I really want you to think about…

She said, “Sometimes I look back and think that I wish I was still that girl…”

Here’s the truth…

You CAN DO THAT (assuming you aren’t hurting anyone please) AND even if you used to do that and stopped when you were told that you couldn’t do that…

You are STILL that person…

THAT is still the essence of you — even if it’s a bit buried, that is still who you are!

How can you reclaim that essence?

What are some of the things you were told you couldn’t do?


I can’t wait for your comments on this one!

Go Big!


16 Responses to “You can’t do that! WHAT?”

  1. Loraine says:

    Too many words on the story – not enough in the answer. Reclaim them? that it? mind stopping off here and Explain Reclaim? It would just take a few more words, expressed clearly. Thanks

  2. Galina says:

    When I was in primary school I written a poem and was acused of plagiat and publicly rediquled in front of hole class. I still remember a feeling of shame I had . Teacher sad I couldnt do it. They used my poem for a school event -it was centerpeace for celebration. I never written poems sins.

    If I will do a drowing and show to mother – she whould do the same. She whould be very angry with me that I lie to her as I couldnt do it – it was too perfect. I didnt draw sins.
    If I whould sing – mother whould say I cant sing- bare steped on my ear.
    By the age of 12 my tonsils was amputated from chronic tonsilitus. Now as I became spiritual healer I understood that becouse I couldnt express my creativity energy which supposed to go for creation went to distroy my body. It should be recognised as a crime against humanity to do it to children or anyone else.
    My life as a result was pain and suffering.
    For last 5 years I am in full-time self-healing.
    I still cant understand – how anyone can do it to a child?

  3. Melody says:

    Ohhhh YESSSSSS!

    I reclaim my creativity as a painter!

    I reclaim my ability to be a ballet dancer!

    I reclaim my right to laugh, sing, dance, jump run or shout at the top of my lungs in joyful exuberance at life – at any time I like – in any way I like because before I am ‘ladylike’ I am ME!

    This was a truly INSPIRED post and the little girl in me who was chastised more than celebrated thanks you sincerely for letting her escape!!


  4. Catlys says:

    this is maybe not the same but after reading this post I remembered one situation in my life… maybe I missed my opportunity and if, then just because I heard too much around me.
    I met one man in autumn and really… I have never had such a great talk, especially by writing before… and I knew in heart that we mach, we have perfect understanding ect(and I don´t even mean “the couple” thing here). We talked months and it was so much fun that one time we even talked almost 12 hours:)
    Then I started to talk about it a little with my friends and because this man is famous, some friends told me “come on, don´t take it serious, it? too big for you”… And I thought and somehow unfortunatelly my subconciousness belived it… my behaviour changed and I started to feel fear and then I didn´t feel comfortable with him anymore, because I were scared I´m not good enough…
    And now..we are not talking anymore.. I´ve tried, but I have no response from him anymore and belive me I´m that kind of who phones all the time, not at all.. It just ended and I don´t even know why.
    “And this is the one of the mysteries, that the mind can speak, and knows nothing; and the heart knows everything, and cannot speak” OSHO

  5. Susan says:

    I was told that I might want to think about wanting to put other things on the paper besides my name or wanting to put my name on a paper that contained other things on it. My family was very good about giving me a choice in such things unless I wanted to hurt someone else. My teachers were not so kind. At home, I was helped to put the teachers words into a prospective that did not take my right to be me away. I was very lucky.

  6. richard barros says:

    My ex-wife used to tell me that I didn’t make enough money as a musician to support us. This is after I had recorded an album with a group called the HitchHikers , in 1976. She always told me I can’t do that and make a living.

  7. sandra says:

    Wow. That bring back memories. A life time up to current day. From licking the iceing knife to writting a book to making my own internet site.I remember a life time of “little girls should be seen and not heard”. Comments like ” are you stupid”? “stop doing that, You can’t do that”.I love this one. not. “Well now don’t yyou think your special”?
    I wanted to be a princess and live in a castle. I new from an early age I was going to write a book someday. I know my spelling sucks but there is word perfect now . I am fighting up streem because no mater were my drive and determination are, there are always nay sayer’s that love to say “you can’t do that.” even if it’s through there expression.So I have a few words for them. Yes, I will keep it clean. YES I CAN. JUST WATCH ME. The only person that can stand in my way is me. I will not let fear stop me. I am a good person, and I am very smart. I am 50 now and I want to inspire others to greatness. I wish for others to hold on to that dream and never let go. I wish for others to know they have the power within to be great and not let others keep them small.Trying to keep someone small so they don’t fail, is not protecting them. It’s holding them back They might not fail, and if they do, it would be in there eyes only. Get back up, blow off the dust, and try again, and again. We are all magnificent human being. Celebrate your exsistance. You are amazing.
    Sandra Connors

  8. “You can’t be an artist!”…oh no?
    I’m currently in two shows-this is one:
    …my work is the flag installation.

  9. John Goodhew says:

    Hi Kristen, Love you for your support. Anyway, yes, my Parents must have said to me a 1000 times, you cant do that. Your Father and me have Worked hard all our Lives for what we have; You have to Work hard. If you want Money you have to Work hard for it. Followed by, you cant do that. You are stupid, you will never get anywhere. Look at your School report. Dont you ever listen to the Teachers. Followed by you cant do that. This I know is the reason for Lifes struggle now. Printed in my Brain. I wish I could re-Program my Brain. Cos I am Brill. at what I do; But always see the Negs. Anyone out there to help,
    Kristen your the best; Getting to worst out of us, if you know what I mean. X

  10. Ken says:

    Thank you, Kristen, your blog post speaks my mind. I’m reminded of how my wife, a teacher, would tell me about other teachers who, during an art segment, would say to a child, “Frogs aren’t pink.” (i/o/w: You have to see things the way society does.) or, “Don’t draw outside the lines.” (i/o/w: Don’t think outside the box.) Growing up, I would hear parents tell their children things like, “You can’t sing” or “You can’t draw” or “You can’t play the piano” just because the child was singing out of tune, scribbling on paper, or playing random notes on the piano. These phrases can be crippling if one does not choose their words carefully. As a young teen, the one I used to hear from my mom was when I was being silly or making jokes, she would say to those in my ‘audience,’ “Don’t encourage him.” YIKES! I wasn’t doing anything wrong or inappropriate, I was just being my silly self. Thank goodness she listened to me and stopped doing that, but how many parents or teachers use phrases like these or the one you spoke of in your post and don’t realize the power of their words? Thanks for reminding us.

  11. mary says:

    absolutely-parents told me all my life-u cant do that. in my 50’s & i still here it.

    It would always stir some up in side of me when i got older. I would think “oh yea–and i would do it it just to prove i could.
    But it is something i noticed all my life & its always been the back of my mind.

    Kept me from trying & doing so many things. I tried to do the opposite with my kids-always telling they COULD- U can do anything if u want it bad enough

  12. Mark says:

    I really can’t relate to the little girls story. I was always given my on choices. I am left handed and when I wrote my name on paper for the first time, I wrote it from right to left. No body told me you can’t do that! My teacher just help me and we corrected it so I wasn’t writing the wrong way. There is nothing you can’t do even if someone tells you can’t. If someone told me that,it would only make me want to do it more just to prove them wrong. The only person stopping you from doing something is yourself. The story was inspiring And as always helpful

  13. Rosemary says:

    Starting at about 3 years old, I wanted to be a dancer, in fact, a ballerina. Dancing in front of my family and extended family, I would hear such phrases as “she is so good,” or “how wonderful she can dance like that.” But, my parents had little money, so they could not afford dancing lessons for me until I was 9. And then, because I have a younger sister (who really wanted to be a pianist), she had to have lessons too. So, I got an hour class a week. Even so, within a few months, I was the second best student in the class, after a girl who was 2 years older and had been taking lessons for 3 years. Despite this, my parents told me I could not really want to be a ballerina because you needed to practice at least 3 hours a day, like the professionals do. Thus, their poverty consciousness (they came out of the depression after all), coupled with their need to protect me from failure (my opera-singer father, who had the most beautiful baritone voice, though he sang all over the world, never achieved the fame and got the opportunities to sing that he so richly deserved), managed to dash my hopes and remains to this day a belief that even what I so deeply want I could not possibly want because I’m not doing what I’m supposed to do to get it. Pretty profound, don’t you think?

    I’ve long-since forgiven my parents for what they did out of love and mistaken concern. At 62, I’m probably not going to pursue a dancing career (LOL), but I really can do anything I want to do. NO FEAR!


  14. Sue says:

    AMEN!!! What an incredible post!!

    You’re right – I couldn’t count if I wanted to – and I couldn’t count how many different people said it, either.

    What I CAN count, are the lovely gifts I have discovered since I decided I didn’t give a “HOOT” about what other people said I couldn’t do.

    Once I REALLY “got” that one, whole new worlds opened! It took a few years to absorb both sides of this powerful lesson, though –

    They said I couldn’t get out of debt in this lifetime – I did. Couln’t start a business (have had several successful ones), couldn’t buy a house on my own, couldn’t, shouldn’t – blah blah blah.

    The first thing I did was made my own opinions and desires count. Then I made them important.


    After that, each and every time I heard someone say I couldn’t, I used it as a catalyst to prove them wrong.

    While successful more often than not – I learned something else from swinging the pendulum to the complete opposite side:

    Sometimes, I would do things – and be successful at them – that I ONLY did because I was told I couldn’t – or shouldn’t. The whole revenge thing put a lot of notches on my belt, but it didn’t make me feel all that much better about myself.

    The fine line is when what you think and what you feel is the MOST important thing, then you are living your life and you are being authentic about it…

    Doing things just because someone says you can’t – even if you are successful – is still letting them push your buttons. Its still giving someone else power/control over you.

    While doing it can be fun, even exciting for a while, eventually it gets really old and you lose site of your own value.

    I also found that when I am being authentic I am more gentle when refusing, too. I no longer need to explain, complain, get defensive – I just state the way I feel.

    Make you your most important guide and mentor, and decide for yourself if you can – or if you won’t. Then if they say you can’t, you can honestly look them in the eye and say, “No – its not that I can’t – I simply don’t WANT to!”

    The liberation and freedom (and maybe just a touch of pride) you’ll feel from this is as magical as the satisfaction of doing something no one thought you could (or should) do!!

  15. Babalwa says:

    I was told that I was too shy, and couldn’t never speak publicly, I was told I could never loose weight. So far I’ve lost more than 20kilos, I got a lecturing job after I left varsity (2007)at a college, am now one of the most confident lecturers – I speak publicly to numbers of students. Whenever I’m told I can’t do something, I realise that is exactly what I should work on doing and being the best at…..

  16. There are so many things we heard as children that stop us from being all that we can be, now. The most profound statement from my father was, “You don’t have what it takes.” Believe me, this stands out in careers that I’ve had, those that allow me to have freedom and wealth, such as a real estate agent or now as a writer.

    Words like these tend to stay hidden and when they surface it is usually to show me that I’ve failed.

    To rid myself of these harmful words, I release them along with the person who tossed them at me. Sometimes I envision a tight rope with a knot containing these words and the person or persons who said them, and very slowly but powerfully the rope is untied from me as it moves away, setting me free.

Leave a Reply

Previous Post :