S:0565 Distinction: Won’t vs. Can’t

(Distinctions are subtleties of language that, when gotten, cause a shift in a belief, behavior, value or attitude.)

 

“I won’t” is a position based on choice. “I can t” is a position based on reaction.

There are some things you probably can t do such as high jump 8 ft., run a sub-4-minute mile, create a cure for the common cold, or be nominated to head up the supreme court of your country. Maybe you can do some of these, but probably you can t. There is no problem with having things you really can t do, as a statement of fact, based on consideration, research, trial, or experience.

The problem with “I can t” is that it usually has none of these considerations. It s a thought-less, reactive decision. “Oh, I couldn t possibly have the love of my life.” “I can t be really rich.” “I can t quit this job.” “I can t travel to… .” “I can t write.”

“I won t” is different. With “I won t” you are making a choice. You are in charge, at cause.

“I can t” is frequently the language of a victim; someone who is at the effect of life.

 

Coaching Point: Make a list of “I can ts” and then a list of “I won ts.” Do you see a difference?

 

Copyright 2006 Steve Straus. All rights reserved.