Prosperity Principle #11: Bury the Words, “I Can’t”


The word conjures up thoughts of death and finality, symbolized typically by the end of someone’s life.

For me, it represents a new beginning. Huh?

It means burying the limiting beliefs that keep you from doing what you want, from getting everything out of life you desire and deserve.

He’s my story of how the power of creating a tombstone to symbolically bury the words, “I can’t” in my mind changed my life.

My mother got out of the car and followed me through snow-covered grass into a graveyard. She shook her head as she watched me set up my RIP Tombstone next to other tombstones of souls who have passed through this life. She kind of understood why I was making her take a picture of me there, in a graveyard, with a tombstone. But not completely.

On it were inscribed the words, “R.I.P.  Here Lie the Words, ‘I Can’t.’  12.27.02”

That day, my mind changed how the rest of my life would begin. That day, I buried the thought that I could not succeed. I buried the limiting beliefs that were holding me back. I buried the idea that was unable to achieve all I wanted to achieve. I buried the fear that I would fail. I buried the idea that I couldn’t be who I was put on this Earth to be.

And I buried all the excuses and distractions that would get in my way. That is what I buried.

And, when the tombstone on that grave was laid to rest, when my self-doubt talk was buried in my mind for good, when the words “I can’t” were erased from my vocabulary, that very act made room in my mind and spirit for my new life.

Now, I must admit.  When my coach told me I needed to erase all the self-defeating language I had been speaking to myself from my vocabulary, by creating a tombstone signifying the burial of the words, “I Can’t” and taking my picture next to it, I thought it was a little extreme.

Guess what? I needed extreme. So grateful to Mr. Joe Schroeder for introducing this prosperity principle and concept to me then.

I needed to do something extreme that would shake myself up and say, “hey, you’re wasting time here, lady, doubting your abilities. Doubting your self-worth. Doubting your dreams. Doubting is debilitating. Stop it!”

Instead, find the courage to say “I CAN.” Because you CAN do anything you put your mind to, if you’re willing to have the courage to do what it takes.

Back to the tombstone.

I went through a very vigorous and laborious process to create my tombstone.  I did that because I needed to experience the entire process — from conception to creation to posting the final photograph of me with my tombstone on my bathroom mirror – to physically and mentally, to get me from self-doubt to success. 

You’re in luck because I am going to take you through this experience of mine – yes, painstakingly, step by step — because the process of creating this tombstone is as important as its symbolism. Here’s what I did.

  • Drew pictures of how I wanted my tombstone to look, creating a vision for it. I bought two pieces of just the right shade of grey, granite-looking, foam board in the largest size I could find. One for the stone itself and one for the stand.
  • Bought the best lettering I could find, large enough size to be seen in the picture. Then I looked for numbers, which had to be bigger than the letters, for the date. After all, I was marking a turning point in my life. I needed the numbers to be bold. Putting a DATE on it MATTERS. It symbolizes drawing a line in the sand from past to future.
  • Paid for my supplies and drove home. Physiologically, the ACT of making my tombstone connected me physically to a new mindset I needed to put into my life, the words I spoke, the narrative in my head and etch that into my subconscious mind.
  • Worked in the garage where I could be alone with my thoughts and my tombstone. This allowed me private, focused, quiet time with myself. I was investing in me here. (See Prosperity Principle #5.)
  • Laid out my supplies and carved the rounded corners of the foam board I penciled in. I penciled in the letters to center the, then I peeled the letters off and affixed them.   
  • First, “R. I. P.  Rest in Peace.” Then the rest of the text:  “HERE LIE THE WORDS, “I CAN’T.” Then I added the date, “12.27.02.” Adding a date is a KEY move. I date-stamped the death of my negative self-talk narrative and limiting beliefs preventing me from being all I was meant to be.
  • Created the base for my tombstone so it would look like an authentic tombstone and so it would stand by itself for the photo.

I looked at my work of art and my tombstone, my symbol of the demise of my self-created self-doubt. I was proud of my creation!

Next, find a graveyard for the photo shoot. The photo had to be taken in a place where the death of something was widely recognized.

I grabbed my tombstone and base…and my mom. Imagine telling your mother to come with you to take a picture of you and your tombstone. Excuse me??

“Mom, I need a favor; can you please come with me to the graveyard up the road? I need you to take a picture of me with my tombstone,” said VERY few people on the planet, ever!

At first, she thought that was a morbid thing to say. Then I explained what I was doing — setting up a new way of thinking so I could move forward with what I wanted to do, be more of who I am supposed to be.

She still thought the idea was a bit out there, but my mom was always behind me (what a blessing she and her support were my whole life – I miss her dearly).

Besides, I told her if she took good pictures, I’d treat her to lunch!

Seriously, the trip to the cemetery was a significant turning point for me. I took my mother to a graveyard to take a picture of me saying to myself that I would erase the words “I Can’t” from my mind, my heart, my words, my actions, and my life.

I hung the picture on my bathroom mirror so every morning when I started my day, I would see it and remind myself then (and every time I saw the picture) that I CAN.

  • I CAN set my mind to something and watch it become a reality.
  • I CAN change my attitude.
  • I CAN be a bigger, better, more helpful person.
  • I CAN teach people and help them develop and grow – help them prosper.
  • I CAN take my life into my own hands and control my destiny.
  • I CAN be healthy, wealthy and in love.

Listen, you CAN’T do those things if you use or think the words, “I Can’t.” It’s impossible because your mind directs your actions. If you think someone did something TO you, then you allowed THAT person’s actions to affect you. 

If, instead, you agree that only YOU can control YOUR THOUGHTS and therefore your ACTIONS and REACTIONS, then NO ONE can stir you. No one can affect your attitude or have a say in how your day goes. Only YOU can. You give permission.

If you think about being hungry, your body heads toward the refrigerator to get food.

If you are engrossed in something totally unrelated to hunger, you can work for 6, 7, 8 hours and not even realize you haven’t eaten all day.

Ever wonder why that is?

Because that’s what your mind directed your body to do. It told you that you were engrossed in something other than food, so you never felt hunger pains. And you never stopped for lunch.

Why the constant reminders of your act to bury the words, “I can’t?”

Because every day, many times a day, you will encounter distractions and negativity. People will lure you away from what you want to do, what you are trying to accomplish. In fact, they will tell you that you can’t do what you are trying to do. Some will even try to sabotage you.

Just listen to what the entrepreneurs on Shark Tank say – believe in yourself, follow your dreams, don’t let anyone tell you, you can’t. Granted, the entrepreneurs trying to get a Shark deal are brilliant human beings with passion, innovative ideas, and savvy business skills – but they weren’t born with those things.

They saw a problem to solve and went about solving it. True, not every pitch gets funded; but everyone gets thanked and is wished the best of luck.  

Circumstances will arise that may force you to switch priorities or focus on something else for a time. The reality is that distractions are all around you all the time. 

If you don’t have constant reminders that you have a vision, a dream, a goal to work towards, those distractions will control your life instead of you controlling the distractions in your life.

That’s why you need frequent reminders of your own mind-set, that you buried “I Can’t” and that you just don’t use those words anymore.

Create your tombstone. Today!

Have your “I Can’t” photo of your tombstone on your phone, as your SCREENSAVER. Get it printed and put it on your bathroom or dresser mirror.

Mine is on my phone still today, and in my home office. I still look at it every day – it’s with me wherever I go.

Remember this.

Before you can do anything or go anywhere, you must believe you can.

A lot of people told a little African American girl from the South that she would never get out of the ghetto. That girl said, oh yeah, watch me! 

Oprah said to herself, yes, I CAN. She believed she could, and she did.

Today, Oprah Winfrey helps millions of people around the world and is one of the most influential and wealthiest women on the planet.

Oprah subscribed to the notion that anyone can tell you that you can’t do something, but if YOU tell yourself that you can, then … you CAN.

  • You can think yourself into disaster or into success.
  • You can think yourself into doing good or doing evil.
  • You can think yourself into poverty or prosperity.
  • You can decide what you want, and when you do, your mind directs your actions.

You CAN make it happen. If you think it, if you believe it, it can be.

If you think about what you want and share what you want aloud – put it out into the Universe — the people, things, and circumstances you need in your life to help you move closer toward your goal, will begin to surround you. That’s Universal Law at work.

“CAN’T” is a paralyzing word. Saying it or thinking it paralyzes your mind, and therefore everything you do and everything and everyone around you.

12.27.02 was a turning point in my life.

When I think back on what was going on in my life at that time, I realize how important it was for me to move on and take the next step forward. And those forward steps took place AFTER I buried the words, “I Can’t.”

  • I moved to a beautiful new townhouse 6 months later and lived on my own for the first time in my life.
  • I fell in love with the man I later married.
  • My career was advancing faster.
  • I helped turnaround the success of a volunteer organization I worked with around.

I kicked into second gear and forged ahead without fear. If I failed at anything, I would figure out what I did wrong, fix it, tweak something, and keep on going. I just pick myself back up and keep going because I know I CAN.

You’ll have your new life waiting for you AFTER you bury your “I Can’t.”

Have the courage to bury your self-doubt and limiting beliefs and do what you are here on Earth to do. The world needs you and what you have to offer.

Additional reading you might want to check out:

10 Reasons Why Some People Will Never Succeed – LifeHack

To your prosperity!

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About the Author:  Mary Lou Panzano

Mary Lou Panzano retired after 42 years in corporate America to pursue her purpose in life:  help people prosper, personally, professionally, and financially. As Founder and CEO (Chief Enlightenment Officer) of Panzano Enterprises, LLC, Mary Lou focuses on helping:

  • Professional communicators prosper. Whether it’s students studying communications, or junior-, mid-career, or senior communicators, Mary Lou provides coaching services to help them be even better at what they do.
  • Anyone looking to prosper in their lives. As a student of millionaires and leaders in their fields, Mary Lou shares how she applied principles of prosperity she learned to achieve millionaire status and a lifestyle of freedom, peace, and prosperity, with those looking to do the same.
  • Home-business owners prosper. Mary Lou offers home business opportunities and services such as leads, training, discount apps, and digital library systems that help businesses prosper.

Reach out to Mary Lou directly at [email protected].