Such small and simple words but they have a powerful impact on our personal & professional mindset. These words create the boundaries of our abilities and responsibilities affecting our levels of self-esteem and feelings of empowerment.
CAN’T means there is no suitable alternative. So where does that leave things when an alternative comes up? Is it a case of “can’t” or “don’t want to”? Is it simply easier to put the onus on external factors so you don’t need to accept the accountability & responsibility that is rightfully yours? CAN’T be disempowering both from your internal dialogue (“I can’t do that”) but also from others as a means to deliberately disempower (“Can’t you see that you could’ve done it this way?”)
WON’T puts the power back in your hands. It creates control & choice. It acknowledges you see the options but are standing by your action. It demonstrates responsibility for this choice. It shows strength and conviction. It creates boundaries for yourself and for others.
Consider the following statements and the use of CAN’T and WON’T. Recognise the subconscious messages you’re really sharing with yourself and others.
- I CAN’T find time to get to the gym this week (I CAN but choose not too)
- I WON’T find time to get to the gym this week (I’ve got other things I’m doing that I’ve decided are more important)
- I CAN’T get that report to you today (I would if I could but everyone else is asking for things and I don’t have time)
- I WON’T get that report to you today but it’ll be done in the morning (I have other priorities I’m working on right now that take precedence over this)
- I CAN’T negotiate further on this deal but I’ll get with my supervisor (recognition of limitations but seeking an alternative)
- I WON’T spend any more than $2000 on the new lounge suite (I could but it’s important to me that I stick to my budget)
- I CAN’T believe it! (I can believe it. I just don’t want to because it doesn’t fit with my beliefs and understanding of the situation)
Next time you think there’s something you CAN’T do, think again. Is it something that is genuinely your choice? If so, own it & feel better for it.