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The Key to the Locked, Closed Door

Written by Vicki Hinze

On December 26, 2010


NOTE:  I originally wrote this as part of another article, but a reader response was so inspiring that I wanted to republish it along with her story, which she graciously gave permission for me to include.  May we all be touched and inspired by her courage and determination–and her success!


“You can’t do it.”

“Why not?”

“You’re not smart enough or strong enough or rich enough or wise enough or pretty enough or cool enough or talented enough or ….”

Choose what you’ve been told you can’t do.

Write it down.  Title this:  “Things I can’t do List.”  Set it aside for a second and consider…

Who told you that you couldn’t?  Why did they tell you that?  Why did you believe it?

Clear on all that?  Great.  Now answer this–and take your time.  Think about it before you answer…

Do you still believe it?  Why?

Enlightening little exercise, isn’t it?  Challenging things we’ve accepted on autopilot–sometimes for most of our lives?

Understand that we’re all vulnerable to “negative old tapes” playing in our minds.  Whether they originated with parents or peers or others in our lives who played a mentor or a respected friend, it doesn’t matter.  The point is they’ve programmed us to believe certain things about ourselves that have become true because we’ve taken those messages in and convinced ourselves that they’re fact.

The fact is they’ve become true because we’ve chosen to make them true.  Remember being told that you couldn’t do this or that, that you’re too weak to do “x” or you’d be foolish to become a “x” or that you’ll never amount to anything?

Everyone has negative old tapes.  And because some of them start when we’re so young, we tend to take them in at face value and believe them.  Our belief in them sets our expectations–and, in the case of negative tapes, sets our limitations.

Here’s the thing.  Regardless of how long these tapes have been playing in our heads, we can choose to assess them and reassess them at any time.  As adults, we might realize the reason that person of authority in our lives said what they did.  It’s a reflection of their expectations and the limitations they’ve set.  They’ve simply extended those things to us.  It’s up to us whether or not we receive them.

They give.  We receive.  If we embrace, then we create these circumstances by virtue of expectations and limitations.  But we can refuse.  We can say, you know, that might be true for that person, they might believe this about us, but what they believe is insignificant.  What we believe is critical.

We are souls in a mortal body and if one thing has stood the test of time it’s the irrepressible nature of the human spirit.  People do the seemingly impossible.  Overcome amazing odds to accomplish wonderful things.  We consider it extraordinary but that’s because of the nature of the accomplishment not because it happens infrequently.  People move mountains that others said couldn’t be moved all the time.  They do it because they first believed that they could and then took action to do it.

So  when those negative old tapes start playing in our minds, we need to remember that.  We believe we can, then we take action to make it happen.  That’s the key to the door you’ve been told can’t be opened.

Now, for the final part in this exercise…

Pick up a pencil.  Flip it end for end, like you have your thoughts on those negative tapes.  Retrieve the “can’t do” list you created earlier.  Now, letter by letter, erase everything on the list that you were told you can’t do.  All of it.

Now flip your pencil again.  Lead down, write:   “I choose, I act, I accomplish.”

I once heard this type exercise referenced as “dumping your hard drive” (your mind) and “reformatting your disc.”

Isn’t that just totally appropriate for writers?  We create something from nothing routinely.  WhY then shouldn’t we get rid of negative old tapes and reformat our discs to include those things which encourage us to create and manifest the best in us?

Many say that the physical condition of a person is the manifestation of the emotional and spiritual condition of a person.  I believe they’re three parts that comprise the whole; how can one not impact the other two?  Balance.  Harmony.  These aren’t just concepts, they’re important elements in our health and well being.

To do our best, we need to work to be our best on all fronts.  None of it comes without effort or attention and that requires our time.  I hear the groans.  Time-crunched already, that’s the last thing one wants to hear.  But here’s the thing:  neglect one of the three and the whole suffers.

These three parts of us are not separable but merged like a drop of water is ocean.  The ocean is in every drop, inseparable from the whole.  We need to take care of us–all of us–so that our droplet of water stays merged… and healthy.



©2008, Vicki Hinze

A RESPONSE FROM READER, DEBORAH BRENT (  reprinted with full permission.  (Thanks for sharing Deborah!)

I graduated high school in 1972.  I will admit I was an airhead.  I was ADD before they knew what it was. During my senior year in high school my guidance counselor told me I should get married and have babies.  I wasn’t college material.  I believed her.  She was the adult.

I got married, had my oldest son and got divorced.  Then I was a single mother with no skills in the mid-70s.  The economy was in the toilet.  I took what was offered to me.  I ended up in a large medical office in the medical records.  I learned a skill.

Then I met a wonderful man.  We married and had another son.  He was making good money, and I didn’t have to work.  So, I went to the U of TN instead.

During my senior year I was dx’d with thyroid cancer.  I had several surgeries and radiation treatments during the next three semesters.  I made Dean’s list each semester and graduated December of 1993. It took me six years, and I’ve never worked in my field.  However, I’ve never regretted getting my degree.

Deborah Brent

“A classic is something that everybody wants to have read and nobody has read.” –Mark Twain


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