3 Reasons Why the Word “Can’t” Crushes You.

You know that the word “Can’t,” doesn’t help you. You’ve told that to others in your life.  Even Henry Ford taught us, “If you think you can or you think you can’t, you’re right.”

But did you know that the power of this word is hurting you?

One of the big challenges we face as smart, ambitious women, is that we are trying to accommodate so many other’s needs that we forget our own.

CAN'T is Crushing You. Here's How to Fix It.
CAN’T is Crushing You. Here’s How to Fix It.

We end up burnt out.  We have nothing left to give.

You know what I’m talking about, don’t you?

Stress is real.  The exhaustion is mental, emotional, and physical.

But, have you considered that you can change the entire process by which others follow your lead with a single word?

This recent discovery for me has made me reconsider so many ways I could have said no more kindly and firmly.

Using the Word “Can’t” Completely Crushes You.

My latest read and one that I will be reading again is The Motivation Mythby Jeff Hadenright

He has some tremendous insight and speaks in a frank, clear voice to you.  I appreciate the candor of his message.

Sick of the hype without the structure that can be found in the self-help book world?  Me too.  I love feeling all motivated…but what about afterward?  What about when I go back to my regular life and need to find ways to put the “Pie in the sky” ideas into practice?  That’s where The Motivation Myth comes in. This is a must-read if you are looking for the nuts and bolts to achieve those goals.  It is bold, clear, and practical.

One of the things that stood out to me most of all is the distinction between using the word “Can’t,” vs. “Don’t.”

Science Proves the Power of a Single Word

This isn’t a word power mind game either.  Science has proven that changing that one word makes a significant difference.

Haden cites a study of people that were given a temptation to avoid.  One group was told that when facing said temptation, they would say, “I can’t do…” The others were told to say, “I don’t do…”

The results were clear.  The people that said, “I can’t,” actually gave in to the temptation a staggering 61 percent of the time.

Those that said, “I don’t,” gave in 36 percent of the time.

A clear 30 percent improvement by changing one word.

We have temptations.  All of us.

Especially for smart, ambitious women, the was we use our time can be a challenge.

We struggle with this a lot.

Here are three reasons why you should stop using the word, “Can’t,” in your daily lingo today.

The Word Can’t Sounds Like You Are Not in Control

You sound weak.  Mousy.  Like, you are just hoping to get through the day.  And, well, let’s be honest. We have all had days like that when kids are sick… or you are sick and you are just trying to keep up with the bare bones requirements of the day.

But that is not every day. You do not live your life like that.

Stop telling others you do with your word choice.

For example, if a friend asks you to go to girls’ night out and laugh it up on a Tuesday, the response with… “I can’t. I’ve got to find a babysitter, and we have swim lessons and if we don’t get to bed on time we all suffer in the morning…” Sounds really empty.  Like you are looking for an excuse.

That’s not it at all.  You know your boundaries.  The key is making them clear to others.

If, instead, you say, “Oh, that sounds so fun.  But I don’t go out on weeknights.” That’s enough.  You don’t have to explain the sitter, or the swim lessons, or any other of the many reasons you would absolutely be miserable going out on a Tuesday when you could have kids tucked in and enjoy your reading time all cozied up.

The solution:  Answer with the word “Don’t.”  Like, “I don’t go out on weeknights.”  Or, “I don’t drink.”  That means your boundary was set long before this moment came up.

Can’t Means You Have Another Decision to Make

Many times, using the word “Can’t,” means you are struggling to make a decision.

As naturally positive women, it can be difficult for us to tell others no and move on.  What happens though… is we are put in a situation where others are going to start creating solutions for you.

Solutions, for which you never asked.  Pretty soon, you are swarmed with more choices than you had wanted to consider.

A quick example of this is while you have a few friends who are going to help with a new political campaign, and you are sure that will not be another task in the future because this is the time you want to push for higher stats to get that promotion at work.

But you don’t want to tell them that.  So, you say, “I can’t… I can’t fit another thing in my schedule…” and your friends promptly respond with, “No, look.  We’re going to do this together.  We’ll be together.  This will be our thing and it’s only for a few months.  You’ve got to do this!”

Now, not only are you feeling pressure for the decision, you can see how eager your friends are to have a fun time with you.  Double pressure.

It’s unnecessary.

There are times when you have the decision already mapped out and just don’t want to give all your reasons out to everyone.

That’s perfectly fine.  You are a smart, ambitious woman. You are in control of your life.  So, drive the bus you are on, girl!

The solution: Use the word “Don’t,” when you know the answer and are not looking for someone else’s input.  When those friends ask you to join them in volunteering in the big campaign, or the PTA, or one of the other million things you could be doing, kindly say, “No.  That’s not going to work for me.”  Your decision is made.  You don’t have to explain more than you need to.  Smile, and move on.  Just remember to support those friends in their volunteer campaign.

The Word Don’t is Final

As women we are balancing schedules, mapping out the best way to get to school drop off, grocery trips, filling gas tanks, to make sure that everyone arrives where they need to be at the right time.

So many factors can change in the course of a day.

When you say, “I can’t seem to fit in one more appointment…” what you are saying is that this week is pretty crowded but next week could be much more free to accommodate someone else’s schedule.

That’s not what you’re saying.

When you say, “I do not have time to make one more appointment…” tells someone else that you are booked.  Full. At maximum capacity.  And that is not going to change soon.  It’s where you are at this point in your life.  It’s final.

The Power of One Word in Your Life

By replacing the word “Can’t,” with “Don’t,” you are setting yourself up for full control of your life.  You have created a big, high wall around your boundaries. No one can talk you out moving this big, high wall.  It’s set. You are set.  You are now steadfast and strong, not just in your eyes, but in the eyes of others.

You have given yourself massive power with this one-word change.  Imagine how much more you can do with your boundaries set…

You just got to gettawork.  You’ve got some great things to accomplish.

One Reply to “3 Reasons Why the Word “Can’t” Crushes You.”

  1. Hi Amy,

    I have to say I loved your example of not explaining regarding the inability to find a babysitter or anything else. So much of life is about setting thoughtful boundaries which actually allow us to live the lives we envision. It’s not about deciding what we can’t do, but deciding what we will do and want to do.

    Thank you for the enjoyable read.

    Take care,

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