How I Stopped “I Can’t” From Being My Default Excuse

Note: This is a guest essay by Becky Vollmer

One of the most fundamental disservices we can do to ourselves is to allow our “I can’t” to become our default response.

It’s this kind of automatic negative thinking that prevents us from knowing how we really feel about things.

The words “I can’t” wind up limiting our choices.

The words “I can’t” disconnect us from our potential.

Think of all the scenarios where “I can’t” might be the first reaction, even before we’ve had the chance to consider whether we can.


A friend extends an invitation to do something unfamiliar and unexpected.

A compelling position opens up at work.

A new love interest appears maybe a little too soon after trust has been broken to bits.

Anything, really, that starts the heart pounding.

quote challenges fearIn order to protect ourselves from anything that might go wrong, we say “I can’t.”

It’s a defense mechanism. Risk management. A way of living that prevents us from getting physically hurt, or emotionally disappointed, or embarrassed or judged or vulnerable.

But it also keeps us peeking out from behind the window shades when we’re meant to be out exploring the world.

Sadly, we can’t feel the joy of grass between our toes if we never take off our shoes.

One way to move beyond “I can’t” is to embrace the discipline to peer deep beneath the surface to see what’s really triggering our fears.

Once we get a feel for what’s really at the root, we can be more honest in our responses, such as:

“I don’t know how.”

“I want to think about that before I decide.”

“That feels too risky right now.”

“I’m afraid of getting hurt.”

Or, my personal favorite: “I don’t want to.”

quote believe surround dreams penguinsLately I’ve been making sure I do not default to “I can’t.”

Instead, I keep my options open and potential limitless.

I now know, in turn, my positivity will reshape my choices, my circumstances, my whole reality!

I encourage you to do the same!

Let us all step firmly into our most joyful truth:

“We can.”

Note: This is a guest essay by Becky Vollmer

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