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"I can't" actually means "I won't" - Page 3

post #41 of 107
Just read the whole thread and there are two schools of thought going on. I'm coming from the angle of transforming your own personal challenges into something that you can control, or at least control your outlook and reaction to, if that makes sense. I think it gets ugly when someone walks around under a rainbow & ignores that altho all of us have challenges, some have challenges that are lifelong and will never go away, and then the challenge for that person becomes how to change your attitude toward it, even tho its tragic to have to handle. It can easily come off as privilege and that is def. annoying and arrogant and naive if someone can't feed their kids or has a chronic illness and is dying, to say "your in that situation b'c YOU manifested it!" Yeah, thats missing alot of the point of what I understand about living from a positive perspective... interesting to see others' perceptions of this.
post #42 of 107
Quote:
Originally Posted by cody'smomma View Post
This is one of those things my mom would say to me that would drive me nuts. Like, you can choose to be happy. Like I could just flip a switch and instantly be in a good mood. I know these are not related, but just another "phrase" that bugs me!
Which reminds me of when I was depressed, and my mom would tell me depressing stories of how other people were worse off .........and then I would feel............more depressed.
post #43 of 107
Quote:
Originally Posted by Storm Bride View Post

With respect to all the effed-up stuff that happens in the world, this particular post just reeks of "first world/new world" privilege. Suggesting that "I can't" isn't real is a pretty major slap in the face to people who live in places where they can't feed their children, or get water, or learn to read. Miracles happen every day, yes. So do tragedies.
Oh, thank you for pointing this out. This is exactly what drives me crazy about "The Secret."
post #44 of 107
Quote:
Originally Posted by Chamomile Girl View Post
I am afraid of people with privilege trivializing real-world obstacles. . It kills empathy.


Absolutely.
post #45 of 107
Thread Starter 
I'm not endorsing positive thinking, The Secret, or any one self-help method. Have I ever bought a self-help book? Sure (btw I hate The Secret, as it omits the most important stuff). But that was a long time ago. Any breakthroughs I've had were long after that, and on my own or in one-on-one sessions. And then the stuff that I've read come back to me and made more sense. I suppose it was just my time to break through. I kind of knew if I posted this thread that there would be one or two people who would come on here and say, but if "can't" is really "won't" then what about this debilitating problem or that one. Sigh. For now, I'll just say that every problem is not what it appears to be on the surface. And...your mind contains every answer for every challenge you could ever face. It's just too busy in the usual circumstances to access it.
I'm not saying that all you need to do is keep a smile on your face and think positive and all your desires will be manifested. That's just whitewashing the problem.
post #46 of 107
Thread Starter 
And as for this being a "privileged" response to the problems of the world, a smack in the face to the poor dying in third world countries: how would class and poverty even exist all unless at some point in history we, as a species, started to think of ourselves as separate beings with finite/limited resources instead of part of a continuum linked to the rest of the universe?*
And if some information makes you feel worse about yourself, what does that say about the credit you dole out to yourself? Do you give yourself love and acceptance or is all your mental talk about beating yourself all the time?
post #47 of 107
I don't think anybody is saying that you're endorsing any particular method, including "The Secret". The ones who have mentioned The Secret seem to just be noting that there are similarities between it and what you're saying.

Quote:
Originally Posted by mommyshoppinghabit View Post
And as for this being a "privileged" response to the problems of the world, a smack in the face to the poor dying in third world countries: how would class and poverty even exist all unless at some point in history we, as a species, started to think of ourselves as separate beings with finite/limited resources instead of part of a continuum linked to the rest of the universe?*
What? Even aside from the various artificial class distinctions we have these days, and the exploitation of poor people and developing nations, poverty exists, because sometimes resources just aren't there. If I'd grown up in a resource-rich area 1000 years ago, there would have still been people starving to death somewhere else. I just wouldn't have known about it.

In any case, I'm not sure what any of that has to do with equating "can't" and "won't" as concepts. Whatever the source of class distinctions and poverty may be, a mother watching her baby starve in a developing nation isn't going to be able to stop that by changing her perspective or asking herself different questions. Does that mean we're all as limited as we think? Heck, no - but equating "can't" and "won't" is just inaccurate.

Quote:
And if some information makes you feel worse about yourself, what does that say about the credit you dole out to yourself? Do you give yourself love and acceptance or is all your mental talk about beating yourself all the time?
Just out of curiousity, have you ever experienced clinical depression? When you're already in a state of feeling that you're completely worthless, and the only support you get is "there are a lot of people worse off than you", it's just...maddeningly unhelpful.

In any case, about half of what you're saying in this thread seems to have nothing to do with "can't" vs. "won't". I honestly have no clue what you're talking about, and the more you post, the less clear it becomes. Thinking one's problems are different than they really are (happens a lot - I actually kind of have a thread about that right now), needing to look at things in a different way, etc. aren't the same thing as your thread title.
post #48 of 107
All of the discussions about depression and mental illness aside, I can completely understand where mommyshoppinghabit is coming from.

There are people in the world who have suffered tremendous pain, traumas, hardships, challenges, etc. And they have come through all of it and they are happy, well adjusted, live life to the fullest, and able to cope with whatever struggles are around the next corner.

And then there are also people in the world (like me, for example), who HAVEN'T had any major hardships, struggles, challenges, illnesses, etc. Who have been afforded every possible luxury, who has been loved and nurtured, who has been given the world as their oyster. And yes, even though they are perfectly healthy, have no major illnesses to deal with (like depression, for example), some of these people are still miserable.

Why is that? I believe a lot of this does boil down to "can't" vs. "won't". For me, I struggle with a lot of "can't"s in my life because of no other reason than my attitude of thinking that I "Can't" do anything about my current situation to change it and live more consistently with my true authentic self. Of course I know what I'm really saying is "I know it's too hard, or difficult, and I just don't want to face that challenge at this point in my life". That's not really a "can't", it really is a choice that I'm making, whether I'm conscious of it or not. I happen to be conscious of it, which is why I'm trying hard to turn around those thoughts.

Anyway... Mommyshoppinghabit -- sorry that others have given you a hard time over your broad generalization, but I do get your point, and I have enjoyed this discussion. This is probably the last post I'll be making on this thread because I'm leaving in about 10 minutes to go to the cottage. But I didn't want to leave without offering my support to the you. I do "get" what you're trying to say (even though I somewhat disagree with the way you're trying to say it!).
post #49 of 107
Quote:
Originally Posted by NiteNicole View Post
I feel like someone is about to start trying to sell me some tapes on late night tv.

I hear a lot of buzzwords and talk, but it's just talk. Saying something doesn't make it true.
I've only gotten this far in the thread but it was exactly what I was thinking. An acquaintance posted this on his facebook page about a week ago and I am still rolling my eyes. There are many things I can't do for reasons other than my own lack of ingenuity, drive, and/or determination.

ETA: okay now that I've read the rest I'm so relieved that others are posting the same thoughts I'm having regarding this. It is such an elitist POV, IMO.
post #50 of 107
idk. there are things I want in life. really really want. I can't have them. couldn't. I really wanted my xh to stop cheating on me. he wouldn't. just wouldn't and I degraded myself in so many ways and with so much confidence and enthusiasm to get it to stop. I could not have sacrificed anything else but he wanted what he wanted and it wasn't me. I wanted sole physical and legal custody but there is no amount of lawyers or money or judges in the whole world that I could force into giving me that. I simply could not have it. it was not mine to have. I want to go away for a while and just be. But unless I am willing to sacrifice others I cannot do that. I would lose my job and my home and subsiquently my children. I guess you could say I just don't want it bad enough and I guess that is fair but I cannot have everything I want I really bad. I will have to trade one thing for another. I CAN NOT have it all. no matter how much I want it all. I want to be married but I found out the hard way I cannot force that or just choose to have the perfect marriage and family. No matter how much I want it I just have to wait and maybe it will happen.

There are things in life you just cant do or have. I have watched people chase their dreams. things they can't have for one reason or another to their detriment and to those around them. Some of them got what they wanted (some realized this just wasn't a possibility or the cost was too far out of their means and all the wishing and hoping and planning in the world would not provide them with the time/money/wisdom to have what they desired) I guess you can say won't or shouldn't but that becomes a semantics game. Sometimes can't means "can't do and still make it worth doing" or "not allowable" and sometimes can't means "just not possible" Sometimes you just can't save a dying child, a cheating husband, sometimes you just can't make your body better than everyone elses in sports or music or acting sometimes you just can't be lucky enough.
post #51 of 107
As someone with physical (invisible to boot) disabilities, the idea that "I can't" is the same as "I won't" is really frustrating to me. By that vein of logic... If I really just try hard enough and believe I can do it, I will be able to see perfectly. It doesn't work that way, I've tried. I can't have perfect vision, what I finally learned I could do however, is that I can accept myself and my limitations and still lead a good life even if it means I can't ever be an astronaut or a pilot. Of course I still want to be one of those two occupations, but what I no longer want is perfect vision. Why? Because being legally blind is part of who I am and for every "can't" it hands me, I get a unique "can". Like I can meet someone sitting across the aisle from me on the bus and get to know them without having to worry about judging them on their appearance first (though smell might get me).

I guess what I really mean is, the only "can't" that is really a "won't" is accepting our own specific limitations. Limitations such as not being able to control other people, not being able to control most of what happens to us, and not being able to accept that sometimes we need to give up on dreams or ask for help.
post #52 of 107


I have nothing to add to this other than this is the weirdest thread I have stumbled upon in a while.
post #53 of 107
A little cyber psych for the OP..... (may not be appropriate, but what the heck)

Sometimes when people have a revelation, they embrace it wholeheartedly-perhaps more wholeheartedly than it deserves. There is often a penduluum effect - someone who once had no boundaries has boundaries over every little thing; someone who once saw everything as a can't - now sees everything as a won't. Where is the moderation and reason?

For the most part, I think there are far more "Cant's" that are really "will nots" than the other way around. Certainly in my family of origin there are: oh, you can't afford music lessons, but you can afford smokes and alcohal? Yeah, right. How about you choose to spend your money on smokes and not on music lessons? Oh, but you won't say that will you? Because then you will have to admit your own selfishness. People hide behind "can't" all.the.time.

That being said - there are times when can't applies. I cannot grow a sixth finger, fly off the roof, etc. Posters cannot make their husband be faithful, conceive, or their eyesight be 20/20.

I also get that for some people it is a semantics issue. If something is a horrible choice they use the word "can't" when it is a "won't". I tend to still use "won't". I do not like the word "can't" because of the history the word has with me; other people may be fine with the word "can't" in circumstances where something is clearly an unnacceptable choice. We each have our own history with words, I guess.
post #54 of 107
Quote:
I guess what I really mean is, the only "can't" that is really a "won't" is accepting our own specific limitations. Limitations such as not being able to control other people, not being able to control most of what happens to us, and not being able to accept that sometimes we need to give up on dreams or ask for help.
This sums it up best for me, thanks Musician Dad.

In theory I think that I can do anything I set my mind to, but I think it is perfectly okay to recognize my limitations. One of my limitations is my responsibility to others for my decisions. Sure, (and as a general example) I could climb Mt. Everest if I wanted to, but at what cost? Time spent away from my family? Time spent training? Diverting money from real family goals for my own specific goals? Sure, climbing the big mountain would be a challenge and personal accomplishment. But, the cost to others and/or my family is a limitation that forces me to make a choice between what I want to do and what I should do. Given my current set of circumstances and responsibilities, it would be an unwise choice. I can do it, but at detriment to something else. Choosing to refrain from this particular activity is essentially a cost/benefit decision. Simply because I can do something doesn't necessarily make it the right choice. I think we all do these cost/benefit analyses every single day. It applies to decisions about schooling, working, the types of foods we eat...everything. Therefore I usually use "can't" and "won't" interchangeably, and if I say that I can't do something, it normally applies to situations where I have conflicting obligations and responsibilities.
post #55 of 107
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by MusicianDad View Post
If I really just try hard enough and believe I can do it, I will be able to see perfectly.
That is not what I'm saying or even implying. I guess it would take a book to explain this whole area of perspective.
post #56 of 107
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by lilyka View Post
idk. there are things I want in life. really really want.
Have you ever sat still and felt this wanting? Wanting something feels like you are reaching out for something and it is always out of reach. That is an energy in the pit of your stomach or in your chest. When you carry that around with you, that energy is the energy you bring to the table while you do anything and it makes your life substantially harder to live.
Now, as I've edited the OP to say, and I hope somebody is reading that, you often don't have to start with the specific problem that you are holding in mind and place the "I can't" on that and then say "See, a can't really is a can't." Like all of a sudden I say to myself "No matter how hard I try to I can't look like a Barbie Doll." (And I know, there are people who have struggled w/depression and conception, or have other seemingly insurmountable challenges who are going to argue b/c their problem is very real to them and will take offense at that example.)
You have to track back. All problems come from wanting one of four things. Wanting to be loved, wanting control, wanting safety/to be secure, and wanting a separate identity (or their opposites: wanting to be hated, wanting to be out of control, wanting to be in danger, and wanting to be one with someone else or the rest of the human race). You have to let go of the wanting to see what your goals really are. Am I sounding like a late night infomercial again? Check to see if you are put off by that, is your skepticism part of a larger persona that you keep up in order to be safe, to create an identity for yourself, to get approval from others? We actually have all the control, all the safety, all the love, and all the oneness that we could ever want, we are just under an error of perception that we don't have these things. And usually, we are the very ones who are withholding love from ourselves, so start with yourself, not what another person can give you.

And I'll repeat again what I added in the OP. This is all experiential. You have to experience for yourself moment by moment because now is the only reality there is, not something that happened in the past, not something that could happen in the future. I'm not judging anyone for what problems they face. I've got a lot of blocks of my own. I'm not screaming at anyone to get off their lazy butts like a drill sergeant. Please go back and read the OP.
post #57 of 107
Quote:
Originally Posted by kathymuggle View Post
I cannot make my husband be faithful,



So sorry about this!

May I ask why he's still a husband and not an ex? Feel free to ignore this question if it's too personal.
post #58 of 107
IMHO - "I can'ts" should be listened to. They should be respected. They shouldn't be dismissed. And they shouldn't be reworded.
Quote:
Originally Posted by MusicianDad View Post
I guess what I really mean is, the only "can't" that is really a "won't" is accepting our own specific limitations. Limitations such as not being able to control other people, not being able to control most of what happens to us, and not being able to accept that sometimes we need to give up on dreams or ask for help.
Quote:
Originally Posted by CatsCradle View Post
In theory I think that I can do anything I set my mind to, but I think it is perfectly okay to recognize my limitations.

Quote:
There are people in the world who have suffered tremendous pain, traumas, hardships, challenges, etc. And they have come through all of it and they are happy, well adjusted, live life to the fullest, and able to cope with whatever struggles are around the next corner.
I'm one of those people. I am an invisibly-disabled woman with three Autistic Spectrum children. I am very happy, very loved and very blessed. I also say "I can't" all the time. It is far healthier physically, emotionally and spiritually to say "I can't ___" and be ok with that. Saying "I can't" and owning it is actually pretty damn empowering.
post #59 of 107
Quote:
Originally Posted by mommyshoppinghabit View Post
Miracles happen everyday. We may not hear about them most of the time. The miracle would not be that all of a sudden you were able to conceive. The miracle would be a shift in your perspective.
I find these kinds of statements extremely annoying especially when it is regarding my fertility.

The rest of what I want to say violates the UA so I'll keep it to myself.
post #60 of 107
OP: Most of what you're talking about in your subsequent posts makes absolutely no connection to the title of this thread. How does anything in your last post in any way connect to "I can't means I won't"?

Yes - people can adjust their expectations, dig deeper into their dreams, etc. That has nothing to do with "can't" vs. "won't". It just doesn't. Arduinna can't conceive (and hugs to you, Arduinna...just my years of secondary infertility have made this a tremendously powerful trigger topic for me - can't imagine how you feel), and examining why she wants to, shifting her perspective, etc. won't change that to an "I won't". I couldn't make my first marriage work (as it turns out, my ex was gay and didn't know it, so I really, really couldn't have). Reframing it, looking at the underlying emotions and issues and all that is one thing...but it doesn't mean I "wouldn't" make it work...I couldn't. And, frankly, "letting go of the wanting" didn't change that my goal was to make my marriage work...and that has nothing whatsoever to do with whether I couldn't or wouldn't do so.

Quote:
All problems come from wanting one of four things. Wanting to be loved, wanting control, wanting safety/to be secure, and wanting a separate identity
And, as for the above - if this is true of your life, then you are a tremendously lucky woman. I'm happy for you. A lot of people have problems that stem from needing those things, not "wanting" them (except in the more archaic usage of "wanting"...as in "not having"). When someone is starving and their child is starving and they can't get food, saying their problems "come from wanting" to be safe and secure is just...wow. I also have to say that talking about "letting go of the wanting to see what your goals really are" when it comes to "wanting" very basic things like food, shelter and some degree of say over one's own life is a completely meaningless statement. Letting go of the "want" for food on the table is only going to let one see that their goal is to...have food on the table. Differentiating between wants and goals, in this context, is just...odd.
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