You’ve Got To Do What You Can’t Not Do

The title is a quote from Cloud Atlas and it hits home for me. I’ve had to make hard choices, we all have, but it always comes down to just that for me. What can’t I not do?

This is subtly, yet importantly, different from “What do I have to do?”. Oddly enough, phrasing the question as what has to be done has a negative connotation. Whereas the double negative statement of “What can’t I not do?” is a positive and reaffirmative statement. Asking yourself what you must do is a trap. It can make you feel, well, trapped.

I have to do my taxes.
I have to stay at this job, even though I hate it.
I have to get over my ex.

Traps. All of them. Statements like these make you focus on the problem instead of the solution. Compare them to these.

I can’t not do my taxes.
I can’t not quit this job, so I can pursue meaningful work.
I can’t not get over my ex. If I don’t, then I’ll never be happy.

Are you starting to see the power of this particular double negative? Try it. Think about what YOU can’t not do.

A year and a half ago I realized that I had to pick up my life and move hundreds of miles to be with the woman I love. It took a little longer to realize that I couldn’t not take the risk and go.

For the record, it was the best thing I ever could have done. I couldn’t be happier.

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