Don’t ever say, “I can’t.”

Our writer’s group recently had a discussion about the lament, “I can’t.”

We’ve all said it, but if it’s truly something we want, we usually do find a way to make it happen. Many people have been inspired to act boldly after being told something is impossible, or they aren’t capable, or no one has ever done it before. The best biographies and stories I have ever read are about people who have overcome limitations and proved their critics wrong.

gauntlet

Having someone throw down a gauntlet is often exactly what we need to spur us into motion. Long ago I read about a man with an incredible memory. As a small boy, he overheard his primary school teacher tell his mother he was hopeless, and would never amount to anything. “Your boy can’t read, can’t remember his lessons, and can’t even write his own name properly.”

That fired something up inside him and he vowed to show everyone how wrong that teacher had been. Years later, he became known as Germany’s Memory Man and astounded audiences with his ability to remember every person’s name in the theatre. He was able to quote Tolstoy’s War and Peace in its entirety! Why? Because he told himself over and over that he could.

I’m sure that when my sister reads this, she will recall our mother saying to us, “Don’t say I can’t, say I won’t!

“But that’s not it!” I would argue. “I really just can’t.”

I won't do it

“But why can’t you do it? Is it too hard? Or, don’t you have time?” She paused for effect. “Or don’t you want to do it badly enough?”

I honestly think that my mother was put on earth to be the Tenth Man in my life. In military strategy, when a group of men agree on a plan of action, a Tenth Man is called in to play the part of the ‘Devil’s Advocate. ‘ The contrariness of this person challenges the other nine and incites them to come up with new and even more successful ideas.

Mom waited for me to answer. “You really can do anything, you know,” she said more softly. “It may take more time or money than you’re willing to spend. You may have to find the tools or the energy, but if you want something badly enough, you CAN make it happen.”

I recall thinking at the time that having her challenge me could be a good thing. “So the question is not can I, but will I or won’t I?”

She smiled. “And once you decide, you’ll be surprised how much easier it can be to accomplish your goal than you thought it would be – as long as you don’t get in your own way.”

We often say things about ourselves, our capabilities or our methods that may have been true at one time, but that we don’t want to be true anymore. Almost as if there is a tape recorder running in our minds (I am showing my age), we repeat statements that are no more than habits. Say you’re tired, and you will be. Say you have no energy, and you’ll stay on the couch. Say you can’t do something, and you will not be able to muster up the wherewithal to do it.

Patricia NealIn the 1960s, my father attended a number of business conferences based on a growing movement called Positive Mental Attitude. PMA, as it was known, promoted the idea that attitude is nine-tenths of the battle. Classics such as ‘Think and Grow Rich,” and “The Power of Positive Thinking,” were often quoted in our home.  I’ve read them each several times.

61MRwKNHNRL._SY438_BO1,204,203,200_One of the most beloved Golden Books of all time was about a little train that showed the advantages of optimism and hard work.  The mantra, “I think I can, I think I can…” is a a phrase many of us will remember from our childhood.  We would do well to ‘take a page out of that book’ and live it! 

Author: Hillary Volk

I started writing when I was seven, and my ultimate goal was to become a published author. I've partially satisfied this desire by keeping a journal for most of my life. After graduating from Rutgers University, I worked in a large accounting firm as a knowledge manager, which honed my research skills on the newly developing internet. The study of Natural Health and Hygiene has been a passion of mine for over 40 years and I have a particular interest in the connection between behavior and nutrition. This knowledge was immensely helpful during the time I cared for my mother at home until her death in 2016, when I discovered a relationship between ADHD and dementia. I'm currently retired and writing Bread Madness, a book which I hope will help to change our institutionally driven culture into one that is more supportive and compassionate toward the elderly.

4 thoughts on “Don’t ever say, “I can’t.””

  1. I can hear Dad repeating the phrase, “Don’t say you can’t; say you won’t,” which goes to show they were both great motivators. Makes sense, since I spent more time with Dad in the garage than with Mom in the kitchen. Good reminders.

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Truth11.com

Armed With The Truth, United We Stand And Actively Take Back Our World • Truth11.com independent media news site is dedicated to the truth and true journalism • The truth will set us free

Journey From A Polish Kitchen

Traditional Polish Recipes Made Easy & New Variations

Get On With It

Writing and drawings about work, family and the stuff in-between

Childhood Memories of growing up in the 1950s and 1960s.

'Growing old is mandatory; growing up is optional.' Chilli Davis

Empish J. Thomas

Freelance Writer, Disability Blogger & Consultant

A Dollop of History

Making History Easier to Digest

ilovemyhomebusiness.wordpress.com/

Helping families one family at a time.

Energy Focus for Everyone

You control your energy use

Albihon

The best of England and Japan

The South West Rambler

Exploring Bristol and beyond

The Dope Bohemian

Are you ready to live your dopest life?

In Dianes Kitchen

Recipes showing step by step directions with pictures and a printable recipe card.

GuideMyLittleFeet Blog

Bible and Prayer Resources for Kids (under 12) and Parents to Use TOGETHER

MIRACLES EACH DAY

Devotionals on A COURSE IN MIRACLES, A COURSE OF LOVE, THE WAY OF MASTERY, CHOOSE ONLY LOVE, and MIRARI . . .with Celia Hales

Excellence Reporter

#1 MOST 'MEANING FULL' WEBSITE ON EARTH

Brilliant Viewpoint

Discover • Motivate • Inspire

Runyon Equipment Rental Blog

Your go-to equipment rental facility in the Indianapolis area. "Don't be a tool - Rent one."

Healing Science Today

Christian Science today

The Psych Talk

Discussing All Things Psychological...

Tim Miller

Poetry, Religion, History and Art

The Memories Project

Caring for those with dementia and their caregivers

thejournalcenter

Just another WordPress.com site

Mark All My Words

Exploring Nature + Health

Review Tales

Book Magazine - Publishing - Editing

A Canuck's Eye View

A Slightly Different View of the World

Still Life With Suitcase

Travel Writing and Photography

Nathaniel Tower

Juggling writing and life

WordPress.com News

The latest news on WordPress.com and the WordPress community.

Cheri Lucas Rowlands

Editor in Northern California. Interested in tiny things, nineties nostalgia, old jungle mixtapes, punctuation, and my cats. Not to be fed after midnight.

Caregiving, Mothering Mother and More

A blog about the guilt, frustrations, humor and sweet times that come with caregiving with a focus on Parkinson's and Alzheimer's.

Anti-Aging Lady

Anti Aging Lady, tips to stay young and healthy naturally.

%d bloggers like this: