The Number One Most Self-Defeating Word Is…

Have you fallen into this dangerous trap?

I’m teaching right now in Ottawa, the Nation’s capital! Today I had an experience that made me want to write you. Let me share a story we can all learn from…

Tap Dancing in Canada

Tap Dancing in Canada

There’s a fun dance studio I’m working with out here, teaching tap dance and hip hop dance workshops. Today, while working with the senior students, one of the girls blurted out:

“Uuugh! I can’t do this!” She was referring to a breakdance step I was teaching them on the floor.

“What did you just say?” I questioned her. So, me being the cool and calm guy that I am, I stopped the class.

“It’s ummm… really difficult!” She laughed back. We all had a laugh, because just yesterday, I had a chat with them. We talked about our choice of words, and that the word CAN’T doesn’t exist in my class. So I responded something like this:

“Ok guys, listen up… Because I don’t think you took me seriously yesterday. Let me tell you something.

The word “can’t” is THE most self-defeating, most negative word in the English language. It’s a dangerous word. You know why?”

No response. So I continued:

“Because that word sends a negative message to your subconscious. To the back of your head. When you hear it, your brain starts to think, Ok, maybe I can’t do this…

When your brain hears that enough times, guess what? It starts to believe it. Then it leads to a whole bunch of other things. You start to doubt yourself. You start to believe that you really can’t do something.

It gets worse. Because of that, you get frustrated. You get mad whenever there’s a challenge. Then, when your brain has heard it enough times, you get super angry and you just stop trying altogether. You quit.

And down the line, guess what happens? You quit dance. All because YOU TOLD YOURSELF I can’t.”

The room was dead silent. Just one minute before, the room was filled with laughter, energy, sweat, and moving bodies. After I said that, not one person moved.

“So here’s what we’re going to do,” I challenged them. “Starting right now, this minute. Whenever I hear the word “can’t” come from any of your mouths, every single one of you will drop down and give me 10 pushups.”

Talk about a groan! You’d think I made them eat horse dung or something!

“And… there’s more. This applies to ANYWHERE in the studio, not just in my class. Even if I hear one of you in the change room use that evil word, I’m gonna come in and say HEY! I heard that! Everyone drop down and gimme 10. I don’t care if you’re like “OMG Shawn, I’m naked”… you all drop down and gimme 10 pushups.”

Boy, that got a laugh. But they understood where I was coming from.

I told them that it doesn’t just apply to dance. As they age, they’ll run into tons of negativity from others. Toxic people saying “You can’t do this… You can’t do that.”

Learn to rule them out. It’s not true. YOU CAN. And you don’t need to ruin the situation more by being your own worst enemy.

So I wanted to share this. Because how many times do you find yourself using that word on a daily basis? And why? Yes, it can be a hard habit to beat. But it’s not impossible. It can be done.

I share this with my current tap dance and hip hop students. And you will definitely hear me share positive thinking in my new Wednesday NIGHTCLUB classes. I’ll actually be using a microphone, so you’ll be able to hear me loud and clear when I say “We DON’T use can’t here!”

Listen, I’m not the wisest man on the planet. But now that you understand the damage of that word, will you choose to think differently? Your brain will believe whatever you tell it to believe.

So why not think you CAN?

From now on, when you come to dance, rise to the challenge. Believe in yourself. Tell your brain that you are capable. Tell your brain it’s doing a good job. It will do better. YOU will do better!

Because, apparently… nobody wants to do my pushups. ;-)

– Shawn Byfield

PS: That Wednesday Nightclub class thing? Consider that as your safe zone. No toxic people, no negativity. Just people who CAN. Visit this link to find out WHY:

Published by ShawnByfield

Shawn Byfield is a certified public speaker, expert dance coach and entrepreneur. A National authority in dance and veteran in entertainment, film and fashion. Byfield is a DORA AWARD winning choreographer, GEMINI AWARD nominee, and 2x BLACK CANADIANS AWARD nominee. Shawn Byfield loves to travel nationally as an inspiring mentor, adjudicator, public speaker and choreographer.

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