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The Most Poisonous Word in Any Language

Aug 17, 2007
'Can't' is the MOST Poisonous word in ANY Language.

A Close friend of mine told me 'WE CAN'T AFFORD IT'. I had been presenting some possibilities to change their financial situation. They are nearing retirement and although there had been predatory advice perpetrated on them by supposedly scrupulous investment advisors, they had forgotten to cover their own with education. When the 'Can't afford' statement was made, it was used as an automatic reaction. I hadn't even finished the point we were discussing. This was a trait of my friend's communication skills; louder is better, don't let the other idea finish and eventually they quit and you win; even though no ideas have actually been exchanged.

After many years of friendship I had had enough of 'victimology' and sad to say conducted the next part of the conversation as an adversary, although with the aim to help a friend. I said among other things, "The most poisonous word in any language is Can't". When you say Can't, you yourself quit trying. You quit on whatever it is or was that was the subject, even if it was a concept that you realize was an actual desirable goal. In the case of my Friends, this 'Can't' reaction had been so ingrained into their life that they had missed out on some very good opportunities over the years. This is somewhat related to 'Nobody plans to fail, but many fail to plan'. With this mind set, you usually attribute the fulfillment of that goal to someone else; the 'Rich', the 'Young', the 'Lucky', relegating yourself to 'victim', 'loser', or other 'excuse'.

My advice to my friends and any who care to listen is that the word 'Can't' never be used. If you are the target of an idea or concept that you consider wrong, bad or ill-advised, don't worry about being nice or seeming judgmental. Don't say 'I Can't afford it' or 'Maybe later', when you mean 'No, I don't want to do that'. Tell them 'That's not for me, I won't do it'. An explanation is only necessary when you are rationalizing for your self. If, on the other hand the concept is something you consider desirable, again, never say 'Can't'. I would counsel the 'internal response' of 'I can do that', and set a preliminary group of lesser goals to achieve that lead to that greater goal. Make a quick guess on when your new goal is achievable. Leading to the verbal (Verbally reinforcing the idea) response of 'I can do that, I have to schedule it, but I'm excited to try and looking forward to the challenge'. Of course the response will depend totally on your own situation, but the positive attitude adjustment will carry over into other situations.

Don't forget to examine this new opportunity as soon as possible to set in your mind an actual schedule for this set of new goals. I understand that this is only my opinion. You know what they say about opinions. The Most important concept to be taken from this is to 'Never say Can't'. Always convert that impulse to 'How'.
About the Author
Webmaster of Informational Sites and Blogs since 2000
C R Ellsworth is retired from Corporate America and living in the 'Great Northwoods'
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