When I was growing up, my mother charged me 25 cents as punishment every time I used a certain four-letter C word. And I used it a lot. Whenever things got a little rough, “can’t” was my default.
Now that I’m a little older and wiser…and broker…I’ve realized that the problem wasn’t so much me saying that I couldn’t do something, but more that I was using the phrase to avoid having to try harder.
It turns out there ARE times when it’s OK to say “I can’t” and nobody will think lesser of you, or try to take your money:
1. If the action in question is physically impossible:
- “I can’t bend my big toe past a certain point because I jammed it while tripping over my dog in the dark last night.”
2. If the action in question would be detrimental beyond reason to your mental health:
- “I told my ex that I can’t talk to him anymore because it’s what I need to heal and move on.”
3. If the action in question requires a hyperbolic statement to effectively portray your dismay:
- “I can’t even handle this traffic right now.”
So you see, it’s not always appropriate to try to circumvent the “I can’t” statement with a phrase like “this is overwhelmingly challenging for me” (yeah, I was an articulate child).
Sometimes, there comes a point in life where knowing your limits, managing expectations and setting boundaries trumps the risk of simply giving up on something.