Go ahead and tell them you WON'T.

Hello friends,

I've been thinking about the difference between

I can't

and

I won't.

317 -a.gif

This GIF communicates my feelings on this issue e x a c t l y.

Okay:

Culturally, we are so much more comfortable with I can't.

I can't forgive him.

I can't afford to take time off.

I can't be open with my boss.


Do you see how I can't

offers an alluring passivity?

A veil of "Oh, I would if I could!"?

I can't  implies my desire and will

have been thwarted:

Oh, I WOULD forgive him,

I'd LOVE to forgive him,

but I CAN'T (because he is too terrible).

I'd MUCH RATHER be open with my boss,

I SO WANT to tell her what I really think,

but I CAN'T (because she is too powerful).

The implication here

is that I don't have agency -

that I don't have a say -

and that They

(The guy, the bank account, the boss)

have all the power

and I'm left with none.

This is veeeery occasionally true,

but for the most part?

Saying I can't

is a way of evading the ownership

that comes with saying I won't.

There is a LOT of power in owning our choices.

Here, feel the difference:

I won't forgive him.

(That is: I am deciding not to let it go. I could, but I will not.)

I won't afford to take time off.

(That is: I am valuing work and cash more than a break for myself.)

I won't be open with my boss.

(That is: I am determining it's best to withhold my thoughts).

Saying I won't

instead of I can't

makes me own my decision.

Asks me to clarify my values.

Reminds me that though I do NOT get to choose my circumstances

(no, I do NOT solely create my reality,

no matter what the gurus say)

I DO get to choose how to RESPOND to that reality.

Even better,

when I **tell someone**

I won't instead of I can't,

I lift the veils of social comfort.

reject the alluring passivity,

and I stand centered in my power.

I won't join the PTA.

I won't take on another assignment.

I won't give you a discount.

I won't handle this.


Try it out.

Where have you been telling yourself you can't?

And how do you feel

in your body and soul

when you declare instead

that you won't?

Tell me about it.

natalie millerComment