The “Can’t” Epidemic

There’s an epidemic sweeping the nation and it’s not one that is new to us. It’s always been there, always lurking, always preventing and limiting us at every turn. It’s the word “can’t” and it seems to be growing in momentum.  Every single day, I hear so and so can’t do this and so and so can’t do that. We are a nation of can nots.  We have given in to the idea that we can’t rather than we can.

We have institutions of learning where words such as possibility, hope, inspire, believe, ability, initiative and “yes, I can” are supposed to be tossed around, not the word, “can’t”.  Instead, we have schools telling kids they “can’t”  hug. Schools telling kids who they cannot bring to prom and how they cannot dress.  Schools telling students they cannot attend classes any longer because of who their parents are.

Of course it extends beyond the walls of the education system.  It is all around us.  We tell ourselves that we can’t possibly get that job, we can’t lose the weight, we can’t learn French or we can’t be the writer, singer, doctor or artist we want to be.  Why? Because we listen to the cynicism and self-doubt of others as well as ourselves.  We let them convince us that if they can’t do it, then we most certainly can’t either.

There’s nothing wrong with believing in yourself! There’s nothing wrong with having confidence in yourself! There’s nothing wrong with knowing you are good at something and doing something about it!  It is how we deal with it that matters! It is that we do something about it that matters!

It is time to get rid of this belief, this word, this epidemic of limitations.  Stop telling people what they can or can’t do and let them make up their own minds.  It’s right there with the whole “box” philosophy.  Oh how I despise that phrase, “think outside the box.”  It is ridiculous and should be expunged from our collective minds.

No box – no “I can’t” – only endless space of possibility.


by Edgar A. Guest

“Can’t” is the worst word that’s written or spoken;
Doing more harm here than slander and lies;
On it is many a strong spirit broken,
And with it many a good purpose dies.
It springs from the lips of the thoughtless each morning
And robs us of courage we need through the day:
It rings in our ears like a timely-sent warning
And laughs when we falter and fall by the way.

“Can’t” is the father of feeble endeavor,
The parent of terror and half-hearted work;
It weakens the efforts of artisans clever,
And makes of the toiler an indolent shirk.
It poisons the soul of the man with a vision,
It stifles in infancy many a plan;
It greets honest toiling with open derision
And mocks at the hopes and the dreams of a man.

“Can’t” is a word none should speak without blushing;
To utter it should be a symbol of shame;
Ambition and courage it daily is crushing;
It blights a man’s purpose and shortens his aim.
Despise it with all of your hatred of error;
Refuse it the lodgment it seeks in your brain;
Arm against it as a creature of terror,
And all that you dream of you some day shall gain.

“Can’t” is the word that is foe to ambition,
An enemy ambushed to shatter your will;
Its prey is forever the man with a mission
And bows but to courage and patience and skill.
Hate it, with hatred that’s deep and undying,
For once it is welcomed ’twill break any man;
Whatever the goal you are seeking, keep trying
And answer this demon by saying: “I can”.

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