Can’t

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Words spoken by others are powerless unless we give them power.  “Sticks & Stones will break your bones but names will never hurt you”.  I’ve spoken and written on that in the past.  That is not the topic today but it is an important backdrop.  While we should be thick skinned when people speak hurtfully or hatefully towards us, this is only half of the equation.

Words do have power.  Words can define our being and our existence.  The words we use, think and in some sense feel can affect us both mentally, physically and spiritually.  Can’t or Can Not is just such a word.  One of my students reminded me of this last night.  We were working on a new block drill which he was having a hard time with.  In trying to correct him he got frustrated and said “I Can’t”…and that was the end of it.  You see, “I Can’t” turned into he couldn’t because he believed it and more importantly he quit with that proclamation.  It didn’t matter that I knew he could.  It didn’t matter that he knew how to do the block already.  Through his proclamation, “I Can’t” he made the possible, impossible.  He changed the state of his mind from positive effort to negative reservation of defeat.  I spoke to him about this and having no affect had him sit out the rest of that drill to reflect.

Later in the class we were doing bag work, a standing side kick to be specific, and I corrected something he was doing wrong.  After a couple of corrections he began to say ” I c…” I was ready for him and abruptly cut him off and admonished him to not finish that statement.  I then helped him focus, reminded him of the correct technique, distracted his mind and within three attempts he was doing it correctly!  Unlike the first drill, I had stopped his negative statement before it became his truth and in doing so helped him succeed.

Hopefully all of my students learned from that event.  I commented on it to drive the point home.  The power of “I can’t” or “I don’t know” or negative statements like them are underestimated by most.  Often people use them as an excuse, for it is easier to say “I can’t” then to try and fail.  Some are so afraid of failure that they would rather never try then to admit they are lacking, in that way they can always fantasize that hey could have, would have or can ‘when they are ready’.  This is perfectly normal among children, it is part of growing up, dealing with fear and personal limitation, however left unchecked it can handicap the adult they will become, leading them to a life of mediocrity filled with missed chances.  ‘Should of, Could of, Would of’ is what they will see when they look back on their life.

Words are powerful.  But the power resides in ourselves, what power we give them, how they affect what we believe about ourselves.

The following quote isn’t in perfect alignment with my above thoughts, but it does speak to staying positive and always giving everything your best effort, regardless of how things seem or the opinions of others.  It may take you more attempts then others to accomplish something but I guarantee if you stay positive and keep trying you will accomplish more then most.

If successful people have one common trait, it’s an utter lack of cynicism. The world owes them nothing. They go out and find what they need without asking for permission; they’re driven, talented, and work through negatives by focusing on the positives.
– Mike Zimmerman

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