Letters to My Children: Lose the "I can't"

I'm not sure where you picked up the phrase that annoys me more than, "Where's it at?" but I do know that I don't like it, and you need to stop saying it.

What am I talking about?

"I can't."

You started using that phrase a few months ago, and it is completely false. You're telling me that you have decided that you are not going to succeed when you say this to me. But, you say this before you have even tried.

Child, there is absolutely no way you have the knowledge or experience to decide beforehand if you are capable of the action I have requested you attempt. Allow me this moment to be the adult here. Allow me to impart my will upon you. And allow me to insist that you try anyway, even if you believe you can't.

Allow me to say, "You can."

When you're around me and I hear you say, "I can't," and then I insist you try anyway, what happens? Yes, you succeed. You managed to do what you say you cannot do. Sure, you may have to try several times. Sure, you may not completely succeed, but you manage far more when you try than when you don't.

But, you don't need my insisting you try.

For some reason, common to many victim-mentality people in today's blameless society, you have decided to give up before you started because things are "outside your control" or "too hard" or "not possible."

Yes, many things are outside your control. Your genetics? Outside. Who your biological family is? Outside. The color of the sky? Well, that one is debatable.

But choosing to attempt to do something is well within your control.

There will be many, many, many times in your life when someone else will tell you, "You can't." You can choose to believe them or not. There will be many times when the task at hand indeed looks impossible.

But if you give up before you've even started, it will be impossible.

So, listen to your mother, if only just this once.

Stop saying, "I can't."

It drives me nuts.