When Can’t Translates into Won’t

I think most people hear the word “can’t” and equate it to the word “won’t.” If you say that you “can’t” take on another project, I think it translates into “won’t” take on another project. If I say that I “can’t” do something because it’s too hard, I’m automatically preventing my mind from going into I “can, and I’ve got this.” Instead, psychologically I’m convincing myself that I won’t do it because I’m afraid of doing something new. Many people fall into this category. If you go somewhere and sit down and drink a cup of coffee or tea and listen to conversations around you, can you determine how many people are using the word can’t in a conversation? I was listening to a conversation one day when I was having a cup of hot chocolate at my local Starbucks with a doctor and a peer of hers, and the doctor said that she “couldn’t” see any more patients. It bulled down to was she “wouldn’t” because she felt she was at her maximum capacity. There’s a difference between “can’t” and won’t. The word “can’t is restricting and limiting.

If you need another example, think of it: if someone says they want to be more successful at what they do but “can’t” get in front of the right groups to make it happen, what are they saying? The chances are high that they haven’t tried everything possible to merit the word can’t. No one can start your success but you. If you twist that and say I want to be a more successful person, but I “won’t” get in front of the right people to make it happen, you’re being more honest about the situation. People forget that “can’t” and “won’t” are states of mind.

Here are a few things that might be promising strategies for getting your mind in a better and healthier mode. 

1. Develop a positive attitude. You can do anything that you set your mind to doing. You can change your focus; you can change how you learn and even speak about different topics. When you start taking that positive attitude and applying it to every aspect of your life, “can’t” and “won’t” become two different terms that become more non-existent. 

2. Surround yourself with positive people. I can’t stress that you never get a better frame of mind when you surround yourself with people who complain about something wrong with the world on every part of their conversation. Negative energy feeds more negativity. I love listening to many positive lectures and reinforcements on YouTube and other videos because when I’m in a mindset that I’ve been around people who are bringing me down, I need something or someone to help lift my spirits. Thankfully there are resources available to help get you in a better mood; when you surround yourself with people doing more in the world and have a more positive influence, you typically do better overall.

3. Start an icon journal. I love this idea because it takes everything that you think you “can’t” do and forces you to write it down and make it a reality of things you “can” do. If you ever saw the “Last Holiday” movie with Queen Latifah, you notice she has a “book of possibilities.” She gets an incorrect diagnosis that she’s dying, so her character embarks on this opportunity to quit her job and go somewhere she never had before. The cool thing was that she started mingling with a world-renowned chef and all of these politicians, state bureaucrats, and upper elite folks, and she changed her mindset when she began taking a risk. Those risks paid off, and in the long run, she was better for it because she saw that her fears limited her ability to move forward, but they were the one thing that kept her from living her whole life and potential. The people she met found she touched their lives for the better because of their interactions with her. By the movie’s end, the “book of possibilities” became the “book of realities.” In that case, I think many of us could learn from that little life lesson.

4. Evaluate what you put into your mind daily. Our minds respond to whatever we put into it as our bodies do. If all we put into our mindset is the gutter, that’s generally the only thing that exists. If we put our minds into different realms of our potential, we become more balanced. We have many more contributions that we can make as a whole to a diverse group of folks or even to ourselves. What’s important is that we find the things in our lives that are interesting to us but at the same token that we can build on and make a lasting impression on different things.

As your day progresses, I hope you can find ways to do more for yourself and continuously build on your abilities. You have things that you may feel hold you back, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t do something. There are things that it’s OK not to want to do, and so you don’t do them. But if it’s something you know you should do and don’t want to do it, don’t make excuses that you “can’t” do it because that translates to you “won’t” do it. Sometimes when people get to that point, there becomes a problem that no one will do it. Many different tasks need to be done by folks that get left behind because no one wants to take on the responsibility to do various things. I hope you have a productive and wonderful day.

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