What “I Can’t” Really Means.


It’s a word we use a lot, and probably more often that we realize. I know it’s a word I’ve used a lot. But when we say it, do we actually mean it?

I can’t.

Maybe I’m projecting…I dunno.

I was never a “grab the bull by the horns,” kind of guy – not until recently, that is. Never one to jump head first into things. Never one to act first and ask questions later. Never one willing to risk much of anything because according to the wisdom I was raised with, “a bird in hand is worth two in the bush.”

I can’t do that.

When new opportunities would open up – “I can’t.” The risk to certainty, to status quo, was just too great, even when the possibility of my life improving was high. Why give up what I know in favor of the myriad uncertainties that existed just beyond?

Change? I can’t.

And so opportunity after opportunity would pass on by me as I stood there, walking in place. Travel opportunities, relationship opportunities, job opportunities,… you name it, and it’s as true of my fitness journey as it’s true of anything else.

I can’t loose weight.

I can’t give up Peanut Butter Snickers Bites!

I can’t lift weights.

I can’t give up Chocolate Chip Cookies!

I can’t.

But “can’t” rarely ever means that “I can’t.” What it usually means is that “I won’t.”

And there are worlds of difference between the two.

“I can’t” implies that an insurmountable or impossible barrier exists between oneself and a goal.

“I won’t” implies an unwillingness to cross a surmountable barrier existing between oneself and a goal.

I won’t give up Peanut Butter Snickers Bites.

I won’t give up Chocolate Chip Cookies.

I won’t loose weight.

I will not…

Our use of “can’t” is also often rooted in fear. Can or can’t we do something despite our fear of it?

Can we touch a snake? Yes, we can. Are we willing to?


Can we jump out of an airplane? Yes, we can. Are we willing to?


Can we loose weight and exercise? Yes, we can. Are we willing to make the changes in our lives necessary for that to happen?


But is so much easier to say “I can’t” rather than, “I won’t,” because it lets us hide a bit behind our fear.

So, as I examine all the ways I use “can’t” to give myself an excuse from doing things I’m afraid of doing I invite you to do the same, and the next time you say it, is it actually because you “can’t?”

The difference between can and can’t is faith; the difference between will and won’t is effort, and the root of love is truth.

Should we not always then strive to be honest, if only with ourselves?

Bottom line:

Don’t “can’t” yourself out of the life you’ve always wanted.

Om, Baby. Om,

Joshua T.

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