The Power of I can’t

Do you know what the power of I can’t? How it gets in your mind and take you down a notch.

Doubt has a way of undermining almost every part of our life if we let it. In so much that doubt, or disbelief in oneself becomes truth. So many people tell me “I can’t” and they believe it with every fabric of their being. There, in fact, lies the problem. Defeat before beginning.

Whether you believe you can do a thing or not, you are right. ~Henry Ford


The Power of I can’t

“I can’t control myself.”

“I can’t be a good person.”

This one: “I can’t go to school.”

“I can’t do change.”

“I can’t make a decision.”

“Those things don’t work for me.”

“I can’t go to work.”


It is definitive. There is no wiggle room. That is it, and that’s final. No possibilities. No, “It depends”. Absolutely, no chance. Period. With no way out, “I can’t” becomes a prison sentence, keeping people stuck, and immobilized. Right where Doubt wants you. Stuck, vulnerable, isolated, hopeless…at his mercy.

the power of I can't

Why try? (when you can’t) Why put out the effort? (it is a waste) “I can’t” becomes a self fulfilling prophecy. “See, I told you I couldn’t do it.”

The Power of “Maybe there is a possibility.”

Going from “I can’t” to “I can” can be too big a gap to transverse. Changing a solid belief takes time to unpack. Start with “Maybe  there is a possibility that I can.”  Then back it up with data. Remember what you can do! If you believe that you can’t, it is only a story about yourself. You do things everyday, you just aren’t recognizing it because it doesn’t go with the story. You think, you plan, you brush your teeth, you walk, you make lunch, you help people. Of course, you do, do. Again, you do.

Why isn’t any of that taken into consideration? Why don’t we make a new story and fill it up with “I can”‘s. I can call, I can exercise, I can get dressed, I can drive, etc, etc. Nothing is too small to admit to. They are actions. Even “thinking” is a response. Begin with the little things. Believe you me. They add up, and add up fast.

They add up to possibility.

What can you do? 

31 thoughts on “The Power of I can’t”

  1. Hi Jodi,

    There are clear benefits to positive thinking. As you rightly point out, we do things everyday. I think that many of the things that we do can be transformed into first steps toward doing the next thing.

    To be fair, there are things that we cannot do. I’m an optimistic guy, but we all have limitations. The trick, I think, is to be truthful with our self-assessments, so that we can differentiate between the things that we legitimately cannot do and the things that we simply don’t want to or are afraid to do.

    1. It’s like the serenity prayer. We find out our response is where we have the control, not our limited world. And we have free will. Thanks, Ray for your thoughtful comment!

  2. You know what I like most about this post? The part where you include a nice easy stepping stone towards changing the “can’t” to “can.” I know with my own deeply-seated beliefs about my own limitations, if I tried to just change the wording all at once, my mind would REALLY get in the way. But, since I’m a good student (usually), MAYBE I CAN change those beliefs. Thanks Jodi!
    Greg at Tiny Bit Better recently posted..A Tiny Bit of Gratitude – 14My Profile

  3. The seemingly extreme distance between my head and heart makes it feel as though it’s an impossible journey. So taking those smaller steps makes it feel do-able. So going from “I can’t” to maybe it’s possible helps to move me in the right direction where I can begin to convince my heart that “I can” !

    Thank you Jodi! You always seem to be spot-on!

    1. Love this attitude, Laura! It is a great exercise. I like to think about doing things without preference, not in a indifferent way, the opposite. Doing things without judgment.

  4. This is such an interesting topic. I can think of several times when everyone was telling me I couldn’t do something. I remember thinking, well, maybe I can’t, but I’m going to try as hard as I can. Then, if it doesn’t work out, I’ll know I didn’t just quit.

    Sometimes, though, we push ahead in denial of all the indications that we should take a different path. How do we know when we are limiting ourselves with “I can’t” (when we really can) and when the universe is telling us that a particular path is not ours?
    Galen Pearl recently posted..Embrace LimboMy Profile

    1. Personally, I don’t stop and think much if I can’t, I just try things, believing in them. I do get feelings “not to do something” but I also on some level, I wonder if it really matters, there is one path, maybe the hard route will be faster. No matter what I will learn and heal. BUt we live in the world of form and so we make choices, we won’t know until if they were the shortest path or not. I hope this makes sense!

  5. Great Hendry Ford quote, one of my favourites definitely!

    My martial arts trainer always gets to frustrated because of people that say “I can’t do this” every time he shows us something new. The problem is, they say they can’t BEFORE THEY EVEN TRY!

    Most people use this as an excuse for themselves, and because of their laziness that keeps them from even attempting to do something.

    Transforming “I can’t” into “I can” means getting out of your comfort zone, because “I can” isn’t there. And this is a tough job for people that aren’t motivated enough to improve and achieve a better lifestyle.

    1. I agree that it is about motivation, but our believes have tons to do with that. If we believe we can’t, we lose motivation. It is like a chicken or an egg thing. What comes first? Low motivation, or “I can’t.” it’s debatable.

  6. I tend to have a positive outlook, most of the time. But there’s one thing that defeats me, so I’ve given up trying. Which makes me sad, but it’s hard to talk about. I’m bookingmarking this post, though, because I found it helpful. Maybe, just maybe. Thanks, Jodi.
    Monica recently posted..FlailingMy Profile

  7. Ambika Choudhary Mahajan

    When I first read your title, I thought it was a typo!!
    After all, not everyone could come up with such a brilliant and catchy title!!
    You’re right- there’s nothing like believing in yourself. Half the battle is already won when you firmly believe that you CAN win it.
    I am a great believer in myself and my capabilities. Great to come across someone who thinks across the same lines. And doesnt stop at that (unlike me 🙁 )
    You are doing a great job by inspiring others too, which is commendable. 🙂

    1. Jodi Lobozzo Aman

      Thanks you so much for your kind words and welcome to Heal Now! I went back and forth on that title, but I was hoping it would catch attention. The catchy titles do get the most hits…:) The better to spread the word!

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