20 real meanings behind “I can’t.”


A Photo by Porapak Apichodilok from Pexels

A few days ago my daughter, Faith, texted me about something in the news. We live in England and are deluged  with bleak stories lately; problems with Brexit, huge fires, corruption, rising poverty & crime. I quickly replied, ” I just can’t, anymore.”  It got me thinking – that often we say, “I can’t” when we mean something else. That I can’t is shorthand for different, more complicated feelings that, if acknowledged, can be overcome.

So I made a list of possible alternative meanings to I can’t. Some are probably more obvious than others. See what you think. Have I missed any?

  1. I don’t have enough skill or talent
  2. I don’t have the resources – time, money etc
  3. I’m not interested
  4. I don’t see the point
  5. I’m scared [I’ll embarrass myself, I’ll fail, I’ll succeed]
  6. I’m worried that it’s going to get bigger or out of my control
  7. I feel powerless
  8. I’m too tired
  9. I’m too stressed
  10. I’m depressed
  11. I’m overwhelmed [by this, by everything, by you asking]
  12. I’m drowning
  13. I’m bored [with this, with everything, with my life]
  14. I’m frustrated
  15. I’m not sure I trust you
  16. I’m not sure I trust myself
  17. I have a problem with procrastination
  18. I have a problem with time management
  19. I have a problem with self management & self discipline
  20. I tried before and it didn’t work out

When I texted ” I can’t” to my daughter, it meant a mix of 7, 8 & 12.

Going forward, it’s worth thinking through what we, or others, mean by I can’t and seeing if there’s a way to reduce concerns or anxiety and find a way forward.

Please add your comments below and if you’ve enjoyed this post, please share it with your friends.

Nina is a qualified life coach who enjoys learning and sharing about flourishing.  She is a novice blogger.  Come and join the conversations on The Gratitude & Kindfulness Group , Move Mountains & Flourish  or follow twitter



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