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The Four-Letter Word That Kills

We all know that just as there are words which uplift and enthrall us, there are words which can hurt and demean us. But did you know that there is one four-letter word that actually kills?!

No, it’s not that four-letter word, it’s the word “can’t.” The word “can’t” kills dreams, hopes, aspirations, opportunities, love – the list goes on. “Can’t” puts a stop, a halt, an immediate end to all effort, to all forward movement. “I can’t do that.” “I can’t go there.” “I can’t attract a mate/make friends.” “I can’t get a job/promotion/raise/better position.” “I can’t act/sing/dance/run/play the guitar.” You fill in the blank. We all have or have had “can’ts” in our lives, always to our detriment.

What would have happened to Jennifer Bricker if she’d bought into the word “can’t”? At all of 11 years of age, Jennifer placed fourth in power tumbling in the AAU Junior Olympics, and at 22, was a featured performer on “Britney Spears’ Circus Tour.” Before you shake your head and say “What’s the big deal about that,” let me add that Jennifer was born without legs. You read that correctly. No legs. Zip. Nada. Jennifer became an award-winning gymnast using her buttocks, hips and arms. She also played baseball and basketball in high school without the benefit of prosthetics or a wheelchair, and was the first handicapped high school tumbling champion in the entire state of Illinois.

What led to these remarkable feats? Adoptive parents who simply did not allow Jennifer to use the word “can’t.” Ever. Nor did they. Her adoptive parents supported and encouraged Jennifer in whatever she decided to pursue. Her mantra, learned early on, was “I can.”

Try it. Eliminate the word “can’t” from your vocabulary and watch what happens. You can substitute the word “won’t” or the phrase “don’t want to.” Both “won’t” or “don’t want to” imply that you’ve made a conscious choice about the matter. That it’s a matter of personal preference, not a factual impossibility. Which opens up all sorts of new possibilities. If you say, for example, “I won’t get a job/promotion/raise/better position,” it invariably begs the question “Well, why not?” Which now obliges you to take a closer look at why you think you won’t – whatever it is. Which can more easily lead to reasons why you could get the job/promotion/raise/better position.

Don’t kill your dreams. You deserve better than that. Eliminate the killer word “can’t” from your mind and heart, and watch your life soar with the power of “I can!”


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