You are in charge of how you show up in life. You get to define who you are. Our word choices impact the way we see ourselves and how we present ourselves to the world. The language you use to talk about yourself changes your actions and your attitude. This is why I never say, “I can’t”, but instead say, “I don’t.”

Never Give Away Your Agency

In order to create a life you love to live, you need to be the one making the decisions. Happiness comes from making conscious choices to do the things that bring meaning to your life. Standing in your power and taking thoughtful, intentional action to move toward your goals is endlessly fulfilling.

In order to be the driver of your life, it is important to never give away your agency. Do not give away your power to decide who you are and what you do. You get to define who you are.

When we say that we “can’t” do something, we’re saying to the universe that we are unable to create change for reasons outside of our control. In contrast, when we say we “don’t” do something, we’ve made ourselves the decision maker. We’ve taken back our power.

Personally, I don’t eat meat. This is an active and conscious decision that I have made and stuck to for more than a decade. Every so often, I’ll be at a gathering with food and someone will point out a dish that contains meat and tell me, “You can’t eat that.”

It bothers me every time. No, I don’t eat that. I could eat it, but I have made the decision not to. I am the one making the choices here. Someone with a peanut allergy can’t eat peanuts, but I don’t eat meat.

Your Self-Concept Changes Your Choices

The way you define yourself impacts your actions. Saying that you “can’t” keep your room clean means that you’ve already decided that you are incapable of keeping your room clean. That apparently there’s an outside factor preventing cleanliness, and you are in a position where you are unable to make a change. Why bother even trying if you can’t do something?

If you instead say that you “don’t” keep your room clean, you’ve changed the narrative. You’ve given yourself the power. You are the one making the decisions and running the show around here.

When you’ve flipped the narrative and decided that you “don’t” do something, you’re one step closer to being able to say that you “do” do something. You have given yourself the power to make the decision. You’re now in control and if you want to become someone who does that thing, you have that ability. You have the ability to choose.

Your actions are also impacted by the identity you give yourself. If you decide to define yourself as, “someone who doesn’t eat donuts,” it will be much easier to pass up those donuts in the break room.

Think of how your ideal self would define themselves. Maybe your ideal future self consistently makes healthy food choices. They may define themselves by saying, “I don’t eat desserts at work,” or “I do keep prepared fruit on hand as a snack.” Take the sentences your ideal future self would use to describe themselves and start using them to define yourself now.

Embrace Responsibility

It can be difficult to switch from “can’t” to “don’t” because this means you are taking responsibility into your own hands. Responsibility is daunting. You may have to admit that you haven’t been putting in as much work as you’d like, or that you have a habit you really hate.

“If you take responsibility for yourself, you will develop a hunger to accomplish your dreams.” – Les Brown

Responsibility is empowering. When you are responsible for something, that means you hold the power when it comes to decision making and action taking. You are responsible for yourself, your actions, your thoughts, and your habits. Embrace it. You’ve been given everything you need to do whatever you want to do, all that’s left to do is take action.

Replacing, “I can’t,” with, “I don’t,” puts you in the driver’s seat of life. You are in control, and you can go anywhere you want. Stand in your power. You are great, you are full of potential, and you absolutely can create positive change in your life.

Related Resources for Reclaiming Your Power


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