“I can’t…”

I greet you with hands clasped together in gratitude on this gray morning.

I was asked the other day why I write. I write for one or two basic reasons. I write because it is a release for me. Writing allows me to have a therapy session on paper. Like most people, I have few others in my life who I can trust that they will be honest with me. Honest feedback is what we need. It is what I need and crave. Many years ago I did not crave the honest feedback. It hurt. Hurt is something from which we turn and run. We remember the path and we remain a safe distance from the path.

When I write, I write about life lessons which have impacted my life. There are lessons which are both good and bad. Like most people, I enjoy the positive life lessons and try from time to time to ignore the negative lessons. The negative lessons are the ones which “make me feel bad.” God do I hate this phrase too! There is nothing in life which can make us feel anyway. We choose our response which is colored by the lenses of our perceptions. Enough about this for this is a topic for another day and another time. Anyway, I write to share the life lessons which I have learned.

If we allow ourselves to pay attention to the lessons which we perceive to be negative, hurtful, however, you’d like to label them, then you’re missing out on a lot. There is often more to learn in what we perceive as negative lessons. We can learn how strong how resilient we are or can be. When we make decisions which are not in our best interest, we can learn who we can trust and who in our life we know will be there for us.

There is a word which I hear many times during the day. I have said this word myself and am mindful of the power which I allow this phrase to have when I do use it. The word is “can’t.” The phrase in which we use this word, often without thought is “I can’t.”

In my position as a social worker, I hear this word throughout the day, by clients and staff alike. One day after hearing this word said by one client at least a dozen times, I decided to make a hash mark on a piece of paper every time I hear the word. The photo below is what I came up with.  So you don’t have to spend your time counting the vertical marks, I’ve done it for you. 87 times! 87 times today alone and this was just during the time I spent in my office between 9 AM and 5 PM.


“I can’t.”


Yes you can!!

Be honest with yourself and honest with others. When you don’t want to do something, tell the individual you won’t. When you remain stuck in the world of “I can’t” you are lying to yourself and to others. Be honest.

I love this saying. I received this as a gift in 1990 from an Executive Director from whom I learned so much as a therapist. I work hard every day to live by these words.

If you cantthink you’re being honest with yourself and others when you say “I can’t…” Please keep walking. I don’t need that kind of negativity in my life. If you want to tell me you don’t want to help me, that’s cool. I get it. I respect you for your honesty. Now, not everyone will be as easy as I am with your honesty, then I say the Hell with them. Do you really need or want that kind of negativity in your life?

Have you ever really looked at the facial expression of someone when they utter this phrase? Their forehead is wrinkled, their nose scrunched up; their facial countenance is what I would think one’s face would look like when a pile of freshly minted dog feces is passed immediately below one’s nose. We need to show everyone just how genuine and genuinely sorry we are that we “can’t” help them. It is this facial expression which we believe we need because it makes our lie more believable.

We stay away from I won’t because we are concerned we’ll have to explain ourselves, our decisions. So what! Grow a pair and stand up for yourself.

To sum it up; Stop saying “I can’t!” Grow a pair. Pull up your big boy or big girl panties and own your decisions. If you don’t you will allow others to own them. Then you’ll end up in my office because you’re anxious because “people just don’t understand me.”

You’ll live a happier life with less stress and less anxiety. Then you won’t need to come to see me.


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