This is something my uncle used to tell all of his classes when he used to teach middle school math. When the students were introduced to a new concept, they would immediately tell him that they were not able to do it, whining I caaaan’t. He told them, “I can’t” is dead. As you may have guessed, I was definitely one of those annoying middle schoolers who complained and whined about math class, absolutely using the phrase I can’t every other minute. It’s no secret that I used to hate nothing more on this earth than mathematics, despite my uncle’s best efforts to get me to believe that it wasn’t so horrible – quizzing me on my multiplication tables every time he came to my house. I’ll never forget that seven times eight is fifty-six. However, thankfully, this post is not about math (sorry, Uncle Steven) but instead about positivity.
I hate that I’m preaching a phrase that was intended to motivate tweens to do their math homework, but I can’t even deny how accurate it truly is. Whenever something doesn’t immediately come easy to me, my first reaction is to give up and tell myself I can’t do it – and I know I’m not the only one who has felt this way before. Although, why should this always be our initial response? Why isn’t our first reaction yes I can instead of I can’t do this?
I know that I sound corny with my yes we can! attitude, but it’s something I’ve been picking up on a lot lately – people often give up on things that seem too difficult before they even try. Instead of immediately assuming that we aren’t capable of doing things that seem challenging to us, we instead need to decide that we have the ability to conquer them.
This isn’t only true of math problems, but of everything throughout your life. There have been so many times where I’ve been uneasy or anxious about a new issue that has arisen or a new opportunity that has presented itself – things that I’ve wanted to dismiss and quickly move into the “I can’t” category, but I didn’t. I solved the problems, I seized the new opportunities, and I’m better because of it. I owe all of the chances I took and the results I earned to the saying that had always annoyed me when I was younger, but is valuable to me now.
“I can’t” is dead. The second you stop saying I can’t is the second you start saying I can.