The other day I got done teaching on the power of forgiveness and someone said to me, “Well, I can’t forgive.” Saying “I can’t” is something I’ve heard so often; I had to call this person on it. I said, “Is that true? You can’t?”. Well, no. She said she just didn’t want to. Ahhh… big difference.
Saying “I Can’t”
Saying “I can’t” is a way to justify in our mind why we won’t. That’s our subconscious way of resolving an inconsistency in our logic. We know that we don’t want to forgive (or whatever it is we are facing) but we know that’s not a good enough reason, so saying “I can’t” is what we often do to convince ourselves. We hope it convinces others as well and gets us off the hook.
From Saying “I Can’t” to “I Won’t”
Saying “I won’t” reminds you that you are making a choice and forces you to take responsibility for your choices. You are choosing your future. Sometimes we don’t want to admit that. Saying “I can’t” implies there is no choice involved. You simply have to do it. It removes any sense of guilt or responsibility. It’s much easier to live with.
Another phrase that causes me to question people is “I’m trying”. Maybe. But more often than not “I’m trying” means “I’m putting in the minimal amount of effort to keep me and others off my back. I’m not expecting to change. I don’t even want to change. But I can’t stand the pressure. So I’m just telling people that I’m trying.”
Just be honest
What if you start being honest with yourself and others? Start saying “I won’t do that” or better yet “I’m choosing to not do that”. The result is the same as “I can’t” or “I’m trying” but it forces you to deal with the deeper issue of why you don’t want to do it. It forces you to deal with the fact that you are making a choice.
Maybe there are good reasons why you won’t do something. Saying “I won’t” will cause you to find those reasons. At the same time it will also cause you to consider and come to terms with the wrong reasons for not doing something. It will also cause you to take responsibility for your actions and the future you are choosing.
Over time you might consider another phrase….”With God’s help, and the help of others, I CAN change. I will change.” And then shortly after that you can start saying…”I AM changing” and eventually…”I’m a new person!”. Or as the Bible says…old things have passed away and all things are new“.
Words have power. Some words keep us stuck in the past. Other words open the door to a better future.
Question: What words or phrases keep you stuck? Leave your comment below.
- Moving On From the Hurt (readingremy.com)
This post was adapted from my new book STUCK…how to mend and move on from broken relationships