Breaking Free From the "I Can't" Mentality

Updated on March 14, 2018

Everyday, the words "I can't" seem to be a favorite, words that have become so easy to say and have stayed rooted in our minds. Laziness is one thing, but having the "I can't" mentality is another one which may endanger our success in the future. It will not bring us somewhere and it will never help us accomplish our goals and what we really want in our lives.

What’s keeping us from achieving our dreams? Are we fearful? Is fear one of the factors behind the “I Can’t” mentality? Or are you not motivated enough? Let’s see what causes this “I Can’t” mentality that some people have.

Reasons for the "I Can't" Mentality

  • Fear. It is entirely subconscious. It drives you to think and believe things based upon the fear you initially perceived. This fear then prevents you from doing the first step, which means further steps you have decided to do were cancelled because of it. You think you can’t do the right thing because fear has already destroyed your self-confidence. It is now greater than the ambition you have. Fear has killed your self-confidence and you have decided to have the “I can’t” attitude. “Oh, no! I can’t do it!” Someone once described fear in an acronym: False Expectation Appearing Real.
  • Lack of Self-Confidence. Sometimes it is easy to plan and have great ideas. The moment you conceive your idea, the excitement you feel is hardly contained because you know at that moment that you have the confidence to make it real. You were even eager to share it with your friends and family. As the days go by, the ideas you have were just ideas stored in your mind. They became impossible to achieve. Why? Because you lack the much needed self-confidence. Fear has killed it. Your self-confidence has slowly eroded, and when that happened, even the first step to achieving your goals did not materialize, thus, resulting in failure. You then feel depressed, and disappointed in yourself. The confidence you had at first plunged down, taking along your self-esteem. Another reason why you have adopted the “I can’t” attitude. “I really can’t do this!”
  • Failure. When failure shows its fangs and stares at you in the eye like a monster, you feel like giving up. It’s easy to simply give up when things don’t work out. Yes, just give up and go lie down at the couch letting self-pity take control. You might just as well say “I can’t” and then give up your dreams. Or maybe there was a time you have said “Again! I’ve done it for the _nth time and I still can’t!” Whoa, it’s really frustrating! But do you know that success is good but failure is better? Because failure means that there are still lessons to be learned. It is an opportunity to re-evaluate and bounce back better and stronger. It’s okay to fail and fail often because failure won’t kill you but the fear to fail might.

  • Feeling of Inadequacy. Three words “not good enough” keep us from succeeding. Inadequacy – low self-worth, incompetence, powerlessness, and even shame – interfere with the ability to succeed. When we feel inadequate, most often it is because these feelings are rooted in childhood experiences. We probably had overly critical parents and relatives, cruel peers, or we’re not able to engage in positive challenges to help us gain feelings of competence and adequacy. Inadequacy leads people to regard themselves as hopeless, useless and worthless case. Hence, people who feel this way say “I can’t because I’m not good enough.”

These are the topmost reasons why we have the “I can’t” or “can’t do” mentality. You may be currently experiencing one or more of these negativity in achieving your goals in your life. You have to get rid of these mental roadblocks that are hindering your progress. Even if you are surrounded with positive people who encourage and motivate you, at the end of the day, you are still the one who can act and decide what to do.

Set Your Mind Free From the "I Can't" Mentality

Here are helpful ways to defeat the “I can’t” mentality:

  • Let go of the perceived failures. You’ll never know until you try. Don’t think that because you failed in the past meant you’re going to fail again. Don’t rehash the past failures. Focus on what needs to be done today and tell yourself you’re going to succeed no matter how hard or how long the process is.
  • Think positive. Instead of “I can’t” think of “I can”. If you think positively, you anticipate happiness and success in what you do. You believe that you can overcome any obstacle or difficulty. Do not occupy your mind with negative thoughts such as “I can’t” because you are not equipped that way. When you think in a positive way, your whole being broadcasts goodwill, happiness and success. These help boost your self-esteem. Your body language shows that you are confident you “can” do what is necessary to succeed.
  • Remember your past accomplishments. You may have failed in the past, but you probably have succeeded, too. Your past accomplishments should serve as a reminder that the “I can’t” mentality can become “I can”. When you do remember where you have failed, it should remind you to try more and that you can do more, not to remind you that you “can’t”. Remembering your past accomplishments should motivate you to stop having the “I can’t” mentality.
  • Self-acceptance. Accept yourself for who you really are. Self-acceptance is understanding who you truly are. Know where your strengths and weaknesses lie, and then build on those strengths. You have probably more strengths than weaknesses, but maybe you just don’t know it because you are so inclined to focus on and think more of your weaknesses. If you accept yourself, you can begin to face and overcome the challenges that are giving you the “I can’t” mentality.
  • Make a Move. Do not just think. Don’t wait until you feel like it’s time to make a move. Sometimes this “I can’t” mentality is just simple laziness. For example, you want to lose weight and get fit but you don’t want to take the necessary steps like doing simple exercises, eating healthy foods or going to the gym. The “I can’t” mentality strikes again. How can you succeed if you don’t start doing something? Making a move to achieve your goals is an important step to defeating that “I can’t” mind set.

It's not too late to overcome this “I can’t” mentality. Start speaking what you desire and not what you’re afraid of. Declare victory and not your fears.

Philippians 4:13 says "I can do all things [which He has called me to do] through Him who strengthens and empowers me [to fulfill His purpose—I am self-sufficient in Christ’s sufficiency; I am ready for anything and equal to anything through Him who infuses me with inner strength and confident peace." (AMP)

© 2018 Elaine PN


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    • profile image


      4 months ago

      Lovely post. Very encouraging. Thank you.

    • neelia_lyn profile imageAUTHOR

      Elaine PN 

      2 years ago from Philippines

      Thank you, Dora, for taking time to read this. :)

    • CaribTales profile image

      Dora Weithers 

      2 years ago from The Caribbean

      Helpful and motivating! Thanks especially for the list of ways to defeat the negative mindset.


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