Can’t, Should, Try

Three seemingly innocuous little words. You think?

I’ve spent quite a few years now listening in to my own self talk. It feels at times like I’ve been wired up as they do in the movies and sent in by the good guys as a mole to infiltrate and overhear what the bad guys are up to. You know the scenario? Well, I’ve done that a lot with myself and of course with my clients.

These 3 little words pack some punch in how we view the world and what we believe about ourselves and what we believe is possible. They have overwhelming power these 3 little words and my request to you today is to listen in to your own language and notice how often you use them.

So here’s my definition and thoughts about them.

  • Can’t – firstly let’s get this straight, are you saying can’t or won’t or don’t want to? This one is very often created and fine tuned during childhood and kind of gets stuck. We often (guilty as charged) say I can’t do something before we’ve even made an attempt at it. We say can’t even though we’ve never attempted something before and simply expect ourselves to be experts before we’ve begun. We say can’t because we don’t believe we can.  What will you give yourself the opportunity to ‘can’ do today?
  • Should – shoulds and oughts, 2 terrible words to my mind! Just say those words out loud and notice the physical reaction in your body. Do you feel light and free? Or ground down and stressed out? ‘I should go to the gym’, I ought to go to see so-and-so’, ‘I should be a better friend/mother/daughter’. Two more words for you…. STOP IT! Listen in today and ask yourself ‘whose voice is telling me what I should or shouldn’t be doing?’
  • Try – love this one and enjoy having a bit of fun. You see you either do something or you don’t. As Yoda said in his infinite wisdom,  ‘Do or do not…there is no try’. Think about it for a moment. ‘I’ll try to make time to meditate everyday.’ Well, frankly I either will or I won’t, so which will it be? ‘I’ll try to be good and not eat chocolate today’. Well, we know how that one’s going to end, right?

A little exercise for you today and that’s to notice how many times you hear yourself using these words.  These 3 words can be dangerous self sabotaging words.  Notice, be curious and once you’ve realised how you use them to limit yourself, decide to stop using them in this self sabotaging context. Then you can begin to move forward towards a richer life.

Please let me know what you notice and how you get on. I love to get your feedback.


  1. Hi there – just read your words comment – you should add to that what you said to me about ‘Rubbish’ – I used to say that all the time about myself, what I could do etc and once you pointed out how ‘rubbish’ it was to say it I became really conscious of saying it and now not saying it. I really don’t describe myself as rubbish at doing something, rubbish because I didn’t do something I just don’t say rubbish unless its what I put in the bin !

    And similarly to ‘try’ I caught myself thinking the other day, having dropped daughter number 2 and final fledgling off at the airport – well no excuses now – want to go to the gym ‘go on then’, going to eat better ‘go on then’ – no excuses. So did 3 pilates classes last week and have taken up running again, have cut out food I don’t enjoy and am getting out of the habit of rushing home automatically and my time has so expanded. Of course, I miss her to bits, but the excitement of getting on with life without excuses is a bit of a revelation.

    • Oh how I remember those ‘rubbish’ conversations and how happy I am to hear that it’s no longer in your vocabulary!
      I so curious as to how we use the word ‘try’ as a get out clause – as you say we either will or we won’t, simple as that. For me that means that I made the decision to post a blog once a week…..not try to post a blog once a week. I’ve committed and that’s it…Final!
      It’s a joy to read/hear the spring in your step too 🙂
      See you soon

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