The "I have to" Box, Be a Better Lawyer Podcast, how to be a better lawyer, mindset 101, Dina Cataldo

#278: The “I have to” Box

Last week we talked about how to become a powerful creator in your life.

This week, we're talking about a potent strategy to help yourself become that powerful creator both in your law practice and in your life: your words.

You may not pay attention to the words you use, but words reflect what you believe.

Words can open you up to possibilities and they can also limit your possibilities.

Listen in to this episode to learn:

where you're limiting yourself in your law practice just by the words you use daily

what language to use to help you become a more powerful creator in your life

3 easy steps to change your habitual language, so you can make the changes you want to see

one question to ask yourself to get out of the “I have to” Box

This episode will give you a practical way to shift into possibility and creator mode.


Loving the podcast? Share the love!

Thanks for listening, and I'll talk to you next week.

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The “I have to” Box

Hello. How are you doing today? I can't wait to talk to you about what we're talking about today, which is the, I have to box. It is something that is near and dear to my heart, the use of language and how we use language to define both our limitations and our possibilities. And last week I talked about how to start becoming the powerful creator in your life.

And one of the most powerful ways we can start doing that is by watching the language that we use and how we use it and when we use it. And it has my language around what is possible for me and how I feel has changed drastically over the last five years. And as I have changed the words that I use, I have also noticed that I feel better <laugh> and that I am doing more of what I want and I am creating more things that I used to think just weren't possible. So I want you to really listen into this episode, not in a way where you're judging yourself for the things that maybe I mentioned that you're doing right now, but instead to just observe in your life where you might be saying these things. And then what I'm gonna do is I'm gonna walk you through a process for beginning to start switching your language out of this.

I have to box so that you can begin creating more of what you want. And when we start shifting out of saying I have to, which is something so many of us do, I still do it sometimes, but I notice it and then I say no. Is this something that I really want to do and why? And it always is, I never have to do anything. But what we have done as a culture is started to limit ourselves by using language like I have to. And it's just accepted. Everybody says it. If you start listening, you know, later on today you're gonna hear like other people say, I have to do this, I have to do that. And you would think they have a horrible life because they have to do all of these things that they don't want to do. But what's really happening is they've fallen into this trap of the I have to box.

And we're gonna talk more about that because what you're actually saying when you say I have to is you're inferring that you can't do something else. And that is a huge limitation. So I want you to imagine every time you say I have to, that there's this unspoken phrase just before that's I can't because I can't go out with my friends tonight because I have to take care of my children. <Laugh>. I can't go to lunch with my friends today because I have to prepare for court. Those are things that we don't say out loud. We don't say, I can't do these things because I have to, or I need to. We say those things like they're true, but what we're really doing is making a decision. And instead of thinking about having to do things, begin thinking about you choosing to do things. Just feel that in your body.

Like when you say I have to do something, you feel powerless, like you're out of control versus like, I'm choosing to do something. I want to do this thing. You are going to feel more empowered. And the more often you feel empowered, the more often you're going to make decisions that empower you. So last week I talked about that becoming a powerful creator. And so the reason I wanna talk about this particular phrase is because of the limitations that we place on ourselves and the limitations we place on ourselves specifically to creating what we want in our life. Limitations are a habit I've come to find out, right? They are deeply ingrained. We are given messages from society, our friends, the people in our law offices, and they all pick up a lot of the same limitations. So you're going to hear them using a lot of the same language, but I want you to just start noticing this language because once you start noticing it, then it becomes a choice.

Then you are actually choosing to say what you're saying, to do what you're doing. And it's not because of some outside force forcing you to do anything. You have much more control in your life than you might think, my friend, this is a practice. I am always in relationship with my limitations and my possibilities. I'm always looking for where I'm limiting myself because I was brought up in the same society. You were so <laugh>. So I've got all of the same brainwashing about what is possible and what is supposed to be and not be. And you know what impacts my life. So I want you to know that if you are finding yourself saying these things, it's not as if it's a problem, it's just something to notice and to begin to reframe. So for example, last week I was talking to you about my upcoming move to Sedona.

And one of the things that came up for me as I was making that decision was some emotion around leaving California. And because I've been practicing connecting with myself and knowing that I didn't use that emotion that came up to tell me, no, this is the wrong thing to do, right? I just noticed, oh, I have some attachment to living in California for 43 years of my life, right? My whole life I've spent in California. And so I have, my identity was wrapped up in living in this state and it was very clear from everything else that I needed to move to Sedona. Like this was just something that was very clear for me. It was a decision I wanted to make. And there was a part of my brain that resisted and it wasn't a problem. It was just something that was a limitation for me and possibility for my future.

And once I noticed that I was limiting myself with that attachment, then I could just release it. It wasn't like hard work or anything like that. It was just like, oh, I see what's happening here. I know what the right decision is and I just need to release that attachment. It wasn't like I had a real fear or a real objection. I look at real fear like when we're in an airplane and we're about to jump out of it without a parachute. Yeah, that's real fear. Don't do it <laugh>, right? But I didn't have that. It was just this thought that I had in my brain that my identity was wrapped up in California. And one of the things that we do is we wrap up our identity with the words that we use. So I wanna relate this to your law practice because this is how it shows up.

So you will be limiting yourself in your law practice when you say things like, I can't stop practicing divorce law because I have to do that to make money. So notice the limitation there. When we tell ourselves I have to, we are always implicitly telling ourselves I can't do something else because I can't start a new practice because I have too many cases in my old practice and I don't have time. When we start limiting ourselves with that kind of language, we are missing opportunities. So if you start noticing it, I want you to say it in a different way, okay? I want you to say, I want to practice divorce law because, and fill in the blank. That's how I make money. And then you get to connect with, oh, I'm actually choosing to practice divorce law even though I don't really enjoy it.

I'm choosing that. And you get to face the truth because that is your choice. You don't have to do anything. And you might not believe that right now, and that's okay. But put this into practice. Start looking where you are, telling yourself that you have to do things and then limiting yourself and your potential. I had a client, and I think I've spoken about her on the podcast here before, that was practicing I think a lot of estate planning law, if I remember right. And she wanted to be a mediator and she kept telling herself, well, I, I can't be a mediator 'cause I don't have have time. I have to do the estate planning 'cause that's where the money's coming in. And so we actually worked through this in coaching and she realized she actually could begin opening up her mediation practice and start promoting it and start to phase out the estate planning.

It didn't have to happen all at once. So if you have a practice right now that you're not enjoying that you wanna phase out of, tell it to yourself that way, right? You don't have to practice that area of law. You are choosing to practice that area of law. And I love the word and and I'm choosing to phase it out because we look at things so black and white, especially when we fall into this, I have two box, right? 'cause When you fall into a box, you can't see the possibilities outside of the box. You're just stuck in the box. You can't see the directions to get outside of the box because the directions are outside. You are stuck inside. And then you can't open yourself up to possibilities. Here's another example. So here's a quote, right? I can't make time to think through my systems and workflows because I have to work on client matters.

How many of you have said that, right? I know. I have heard just about every attorney I work with tell me that at first I can't make time to think through my systems and workflows because I have to work on my client matters. But when we say that we completely block ourselves from possibility. I actually was just talking to a client the other day. She was telling me how she always believed this thought that she just could not create time because she had so many client matters to work on. And now that we've been working together, she has created time to work on her business and she has the workflows and the client matters and her practice is running smoothly. I wanna share this with you because this is so powerful. When you start noticing where you say you have to do things. So if your brain is saying, I can't do X because I have to do Y, I want you to notice it and then bring yourself back to, oh wait, I don't have to do anything.

I know you may not believe it right now, but just remind yourself that, and instead say, I am choosing not to work on my systems and workflows. Instead, I am choosing to work on client matters. It's a much more powerful statement. And you can also check in and see if it's true. Oh wait, yes, I am choosing not to work on my systems and I am choosing to work on my client systems. I don't have to do anything. I'm choosing to do it. Do I want to choose to work on my workflows? Yes I do. And then you can start tapping into possibility. Well then how do I make that happen? Because it's not just going to happen. You make it happen, but you can't make it happen if you think you are limited, right? One of the things that we we do is we talk ourselves into this box and we think, oh, this is just true.

This is life. I can't do X because I have to do Y versus just saying, no, I'm choosing to do this. Do I wanna continue to choose doing this? And one of the things that's popping into my head right now as I am talking to you is something that when I heard it, it kind of rocked my world, which was, once I share this with you, it is no longer my responsibility. It is now your responsibility to do something with it. And it might seem like a heavy weight it did for me at first anyway. I don't wanna sh I don't wanna give that weight to you, but when you hear this, I want you to take it to heart. You could listen to this podcast and just kind of hear it, you know, as you're just driving or washing the dishes or whatever you're doing right now. Or you can pause, take a moment and really reflect where are you telling yourself throughout the day? I have to do this thing and I can't do other things because I have to do this thing.

I want you to remind yourself of the powerful creator that you are and that the choices that you make are creating what you have right now. Now here's another example. I can't make time to think through my calendar this week because I have so much to do. I hear this very often from brand new clients, <laugh>, they tell me like, I just don't have time to think about a calendar. Like if, if I thought about the calendar, then I wouldn't have time to do everything else. But what they forget is that they are creating their reality. So the calendar is a tool. So that one hour you might invest in planning your week is gonna save you 10 hours during the week. You won't be messing around on emails, you won't be, you know, frittering away your time chatting with coworkers. You won't be furthering away your time worrying about your to-do list or thinking about work at home or doing all of the things that are zapping your energy.

If you focus your energy for one hour on creative, the creating the most productive week for yourself. And I see this time and again, every single client who works with me, they tell me this sentence when we start and then their minds are blown because they begin working on systems within their practice. They begin streamlining, streamlining their systems because they're making time to streamline their systems and they're making even more time for themselves. They're making even more money for themselves because they're sending out bills that they hadn't sent out in so long because they didn't see time on their calendar to send out the bills. They're starting workout routines because they never put on their calendar, oh, I wanna workout at 5:00 PM And when they start doing it, they're like, oh, I actually created a spot for it on my calendar. How about that? So when we limit ourselves with thinking that you can't make time to think through your calendar this week, this incredibly powerful tool that is going to change everything for you, then you tell yourself, I have to do so much work.

I want you to go back and say, no, I'm choosing to do all the work. I'm choosing not to use this powerful tool and I am choosing the life that I have right now. I want you to seriously sit with that. And I don't mean this to be kind of like a come to Jesus talk, but I kind of is turning into that because I want you to see the life that you're choosing. Every time we tell ourselves I have to do something, I want you to tell yourself that you're choosing to do that thing. And you may have an amazing reason to choose it. You might not, but I want you to see it. I'm choosing to spend an hour on emails every morning going down the rabbit hole, and I'm choosing not to work on the brief that really needs to get done this afternoon.

I'm choosing not to have the hard conversation with my employee and I'm choosing to make my life more difficult by having an employee who doesn't understand my needs. I want you to begin talking to yourself like that. Because if you're telling yourself, I have to put up with this employee because I can't find anybody else, then you are putting yourself in a box. Every time you tell yourself I have to, you're telling yourself I can't do something because, and that is a limitation. I want you to wipe it clean from your brain. And the very first step is just noticing that it's happening. Notice every time you say I have to do this, right? Versus saying something like, I want to or I'd like to, or I'm going to, like, you have so many other options besides I have to and I love, I choose to because it makes it very clear the life that you're choosing.

Okay? The second thing I want you to notice here is when you think wishfully, right? If only I could take Fridays off, but I can't because I have to work on client matters, whatever it is, right? I want you to just notice when you say, I wish I could do that, but I can't because I have to. I want you to notice that phrase. Anytime you say, I wish, I want you to look at it like you're rubbing a magic lamp and that you could have a genie pop out, but you shut it down right away, <laugh>, every time you're like, I wish I could. And then immediately you shut down that wish and you don't rub the magic lamp <laugh>. I want you to really think about it that way because that's what we're doing. And sometimes it's really helpful to check in with ourselves that when we say, I wish I could do something, I really ask ourselves, do I really wish that or am I just saying it because it's a habit of mine to say that.

And where am I limiting myself on a regular basis by telling myself something like, I wish that could happen, but it's never gonna happen because I have to do x I have to do y. Just want you to notice that I want you to start showing your brain. You can have what you want, that you can become the powerful creator in your life. And one of the biggest, most amazing ways you can be begin doing that is by checking your language, watching your language, changing your language. So here are the steps I want to walk you through so that when you're noticing in your day that you're saying I have to do something, that you can begin shifting yourself out of that into a more powerful place. The first example I gave you is just saying like, I choose to, but here's another way to walk yourself through that.

So number one, just rephrase it immediately. This is what I do. So if I notice, I say, oh gosh, I have so much to do, or I have to do X, Y, z, I stop and I say, oh, oh, I want to do that. Like I intentionally put that on my calendar. Good for me. I, I just notice it and then I, I check my language or I say something like, oh, well I could do that, but I'm choosing something else. So this is really powerful when it comes to money. So if you notice yourself in money scarcity, oftentimes what we'll do is we'll say, oh, I can't afford that. Versus saying, no, I can't afford it. I'm just choosing not to, I'm choosing not to buy the caviar this week. I'm choosing not to buy the champagne this week. Whatever it is that you have like that, the, the bag that you've been eyeing and you're saying, I can't afford it, but you really could afford it.

‘Cause You do have the money in the bank, but it's just not that you can't afford it, it's that you're choosing not to spend your money on the back. That's all it is. You're making a conscious choice. And when you start reframing your life in a way that reflects the fact that you're making a conscious choice, you're gonna start dissolving that scarcity. Same thing with time when you tell yourself, I don't have time to do something, right, because I have to do X, y, z. Reframe it and say, well, I do have the time, but I am choosing to do X, Y, Z because that's what's important for my practice. That's what's important for my family. So I want you to just start noticing the language that you use around creating your life and start recognizing that you are creating your life. Whether it's unconsciously or consciously, you are creating your life.

If you are unconsciously using language like I have to and I can't, then that's how your life is going to be. But when you start recognizing that you are making choices, then you can move more powerfully and you can start recognizing, do I like the choices that I'm making? Do I like the decisions that I'm making? And then move from there. This is a practice. So do this over and over. You're gonna look for this language, the I have to language. And you are going to just start noticing it, reframing it. And then you're going to just play and ask yourself, how could I do that? So for instance, if your thought is I can't stop practicing estate planning because I have to practice estate planning to make money, I want you to rephrase it and say, okay, I'm choosing to practice estate planning law and I'm choosing not to pursue this other area of law.

And how could I, if I really wanted to, how could I? And then just play, allow your brain to play with possibility. Begin to imagine a world in which you are now practicing the area of law that you want to practice. How could you make that happen? How could you begin phasing out estate planning and begin phasing in this new area of law? Don't let your brain shut it down. Don't let your brain tell you it's not possible. Let your brain play. Because if you start asking your brain the right questions, it will begin solving the problems for you. And when you connect with what you want, this might be trial and error, right? It, it was for me. But I want you to just notice this and notice that the way you feel when you say I have to is very different from how you feel when you say I choose to.

And then the last thing I just wanna offer to you is to start watching how other people talk about their lives. You're gonna start noticing people complaining about their lives left and right. Just nod and smile, <laugh>. It's just something you get used to when you stop saying things like this. Like, I have to, when you stop complaining about your life. 'cause Basically that's what saying I have to is it's complaining. When you stop complaining about your life, you're gonna notice how so many other people complain about their lives and you're gonna notice how stuck they are. And you're going to be like, wow, is that how I talked? Is that what I sounded like? And be so kind and compassionate because they are where you were. I mean, that's just, that's just life, right? The more we experience, the more we take in, the more we have wisdom so that we can change ourselves for the better.

I mean that's all this is, is I am just imparting the wisdom that I have learned over the years through hard won experience. And I'm hoping that you take what I am sharing with you and you use it every single day. And for my perfectionist out there, I know you're here with me. Know this doesn't have to be perfect. I'm not perfect at it. And yet I am creating so much more in my life that I want than I ever have before. I'm doing it consciously. I'm not doing it unconsciously. I'm thinking through what I want and I'm choosing what I want so much more powerfully because I'm thinking about how I choose. So imagine if you were going to the mall and you were walking through the stores and you were just like, okay, I have to get this, I have to get that, I have to get this, I have to get that.

Versus saying, okay, what do I wanna choose today? Okay, I don't wanna choose to spend my money on those things. I'd like to choose my, my items for my home, for my office, and I'm gonna choose these things. When you use the word choose, you are being so much more selective, right? It's such a more powerful decision. You are focusing your energy versus spreading your energy thin. And I just want you to just start noticing this day to day when you go to the grocery store, even when you have to, when you're saying things like, oh, I have to get some meat, I have to get that, I have to get some fruit, I have to get some salad. Instead just say, oh, you know, I am choosing salad this week. So good, right? I am choosing the highest quality organic meats. That's what I'm into right now.

I'm getting everything organic, right? I'm choosing the highest quality organic foods for my body. I am choosing to select things that are good for me, that taste good, that feel good, that serve me. You don't have to get anything. You get to choose what it is that you want. I mean, how amazing is this? If you're listening to this podcast, you are among people who have choices among people who are so fortunate in our lives to be able to choose the foods that we eat, to choose the work that we do, to choose what we consume visually and through our ears, right? To choose to have, in my case, a dog that <laugh>, I have medical bills that I choose to pay, right? Because I am choosing my dog, right? I am choosing how I wanna take care of him. So just notice your language. Notice how this comes up, whether it's in time management, whether it's in how you run your practice, whether it's how you engage with your family or the events that you have with your, your family and friends. And start watching your language. You will notice yourself feeling so much more powerful. You will notice yourself having so many more options because you're asking yourself instead of blocking yourself by saying, I can't because I have to. You're gonna notice the language and then you're gonna start asking yourself, how could I do this? How can I do this?

And just let your brain play and just know you get to make the decision from there, whatever you choose. Alright, my friend, if you are loving what you're listening to on the podcast, if you wanna implement this, if you wanna start feeling more powerful about your life, feeling more in control of your law, practice more in control of your time, feeling more calm and peace in your practice. Book a strategy session with me. I just posted a couple powerful testimonials on my strategy session page. I highly encourage you to go and listen to them because they are, they are an example of what's possible for you. And so often we tell ourselves that we can't, that it's, we're not ready, that we need to be perfect before we do something. At least that's something that I told myself is that I just didn't have it together to get a coach because I just, I should know more.

I should be implementing more. But what I didn't realize is that coaching actually helps you implement what you're learning and also it teaches you things that you could never pick up on your own. Because you have somebody there who can see the nuance of how your brain works and what you're thinking and what you're feeling and can check in with you. It's not as if you have like this robot that you're trying to <laugh> communicate with, right? You have somebody who is there, who is engaging with you on, in what's going on right now in your life and in your practice, and can help you focus on what's most important to you and what you want to accomplish and what you wanna create in your life. So if this appeals to you, which it does, obviously 'cause you're here till the very end of this episode, go to dina session and watch those videos because they are extremely powerful and I hope that they inspire you to see the possibility that there is for your life. All right my friend. I will talk to you next week. Bye.