CAN’T (CANNOT): to be unable to do otherwise than
Out of all of my blogs in recent years, I can honestly say that this one will carry the most power, the most emotion, the most energy – all based on one word and it’s most widely used short form.
I’ve spoken of other words in our vocabulary that pack a lot of punch, but this one…this must be number one. Why would I say so? If you have not ever heard me speak so strongly about the term “can’t” and why you should do everything in your power to eliminate it from your everyday speech now, please take the time to read this and, of course, offer your opinions/comments/criticism if you feel the need to do so.
I used to be guilty of using this word on a regular basis until it was brought to my attention just how much it prevented me from advancing, achieving, accomplishing, and succeeding in my personal, spiritual, and fitness goals. This word that is used as a common response by many people to a challenge, a task, a project, or in this case related to exercise, is in my mind the equivalent of cursing me to my face. As a matter of fact, you’re better off just flipping me the bird, mooning me (okay, maybe not that…), or anything else that would be offensive. I can be certain that most teachers, coaches, and trainers feel the same way that I do, especially because our roles include motivating our clients and communities to move, make better nutrition choices for their health and wellness benefit, and encouraging them to push through each minute and second of their workout to get the best out of their time spent with us.
Because let’s face facts here: When a person says that they can’t do something, it’s not because they physically cannot do it; rather it’s because they do not have the desire to do it.
Now, please don’t get it twisted: there are people who are physically unable to do certain things as a result of an injury or doctor’s orders AT THAT PRESENT MOMENT…and I respect that 100%. As a fitness professional, I don’t wish to force any of my clients to perform movements that would be detrimental to them. But, once they have recovered, who says that they wouldn’t be able to work towards it or perform a regressed version of the movement?
Oh! I know! – the word “can’t” tells them so.
HOW MUCH DOES “CAN’T” AFFECT YOUR GOALS?
“Can’t” is powerful simply because it has the ability, along with the word “fear”, to disable a person’s potential, thus resulting in discouragement and reverting to what is comfortable to them. It often works against your goals instead of working with it. Allow me to break the scenario down with dialogue:
Trainer: “Ok! So your program is going to begin on the treadmill. This is how we’re going to get you ready for the 5k run in a couple of months – the one that you said was part of your goals for the year. You’re going to start with a 1 minute walk and then for 2 minutes your going to jog for….”
Client: “Ummmm I can’t do the treadmill. I just can’t do it. How about I do the elliptical? I REALLY love that…so much easier!”
Trainer: “When you say you “can’t do the treadmill”, what do you mean? I can show you how to operate it…”
Client: “No no, I just can’t do it. I physically can’t do it at all…can I just do the elliptical?”
Trainer: “Are you afraid of the belt? Is it the style of the treadmill? Did you have a bad experience with the treadmill before? I’m trying to get a better understanding as to why…”
Client: “No I just can’t do it. I just can’t…like I can’t”
See that face? That’s me every time a conversation like this has transpired. “Can’t” has the ability to cause some kind of paralysis with people that is mind-boggling…especially when you are asking them to do something that they have done before. What the client should have said was “I know you want me to use the treadmill but I don’t want to, even if it’s going to help me progress, even if it’s going to challenge me, even if it is not in my comfort zone.”
Look friends, if you’re totally okay with being where you are right now and you want to just maintain the progress you have made thus far, then do your thing! You will not be criticized, harassed, or pushed to do more. But if you know that you can, why limit yourself by telling yourself that you can’t?
Reality check: YOU CAN DO ANYTHING!
Want to save a million dollars in the bank? DO IT
Want to see the other side of the world? DO IT
Want to lose weight? DO IT
Want to eat better? DO IT
Want to perform a push up on your toes, run a 5k race, squat 100 lbs, reduce your sugar intake – DO IT!
It all comes down to choice – do you want to or not? If the answer is “yes, I want to” then be prepared to do what it takes to make it happen. Surround yourself with people who will help you get there. Feed your mind and your heart with POSITIVE influences that will give you the boost you need to continue. Give yourself a chance and TRY, even if you don’t succeed on the first effort. And get rid of that word “can’t” – chuck it out the window along with other negative vocab that when used can and will destroy instead of build.
You have the opportunity put before you to go where you want to go. Your potential is within – repeating the word “can’t” only buries it deeper and deeper, tucking it away so far that you forget where you put it. The only time “can’t” is acceptable is when it’s associated with the word “quit.” Period.
Change your vocabulary, change your outcome.
CALL TO ACTION – PENALIZE YOURSELF EVERYTIME YOU USE THE WORD
My client sent me a picture of this shirt to serve as motivation for her…I look forward to a) ordering one and b) implementing this rule with my clients and myself. Now your penalty doesn’t have to be the same but try docking yourself every time you use the word. Attach a consequence to the term which will train you not to use it again, or as often. Make your support team is aware of your penalty so that they can ensure it’s enforced.
Trainer Profile: Kareem Rawlins
Experience Personal Training – 5 years | Nutrition Counseling – 3 years | Group Fitness – 3 years