The Lie of “I Can’t Do This”

Not believing my own lies

Photo by Drew Hays on Unsplash

The biggest lie I’ve ever told myself is something I still believe, from time to time, although I’m trying to see it for the lie it is. It’s a simple one. No mental gymnastics required at all.

It is: I can’t do this.

I said it when I started learning to drive.

I said it on my first day of high school (and probably primary school too, but my memory doesn’t stretch that far)

I said it when I heard I would be a father.

It is easy to believe. Living with a disability means that you always have to think about your limitations, you greet every new event with the thought: can I actually do this? And there’s where “I can’t do this” comes in. Because, more often than not, that was my internal response to the question.

But that response was — and is — a lie.

I learned to drive (took me three cracks to pass the test, but I did it)

I made it through school and went to university.

My disability hasn’t negatively impacted my parenting so far — if anything, it’s my complete cluelessness that’s the problem!

“I can’t do this” is an easy response. The easiest, in fact. It gives you an easy out if you fail at something (“well, I knew I wouldn’t do it anyway”) or a preemptive excuse not to do something, to stay in your comfort zone.

But it’s a lie.

Am I saying “you can do anything if you just believe in yourself”? No. That’s a lie, too.

But what I am saying is that if you think carefully, practice and persevere then you can do a lot more than you think.

“I can do this” is a lie I told myself for a long time. The truthful version I use now is “I can’t do this…yet”.

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David is an author and freelance writer. He has two short story collections available, and his non-fiction work has appeared on The Mighty, WhatCulture and Just Football, among others.

Navigating parenting with a disability and trying to write a novel. Email:

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