The Difference Between Can’t and Won’t

We love words. We crave the right words. We need to hear our significant others tell us they love us even if their behavior says otherwise. Words give us hope. Words empower us to dream. We think in images but we give meaning and context to those images with our words. Words prime our subconscious, especially the words we use when we speak about ourselves and to ourselves.

Language is the gift only humans have. All animals communicate but only humans have language. Language is a superpower we have when we can develop mastery and excellence with it. But few of us develop this mastery and excellence. So why do we crave words the way we do?

Emotions and feelings evolved to play a role in connecting us to one another and this evolved to have words being used to connect us. We label emotions to create feelings so this seems like a linear development.

Our narrative is the story we tell ourselves about ourselves. We all have at least one dominant narrative. It has its collection of words most frequently used and it has its own tone. Most of the time they are not our words or tone. They belong to those that conditioned the narrative into us but since the narrative uses our voice, we believe it to be our own chosen beliefs and words. They're not.

Can't and won't are not the same and the distinction is important because it illustrates what belief a person has in their subconscious about themselves. It displays the tone of their narrative. Can't is closed ended. It is limiting and it is fixed. It is not empowering. Won't is a choice. It is empowering and shows more free will. Why is this distinction important? Because whichever one you find yourself using primes the subconscious for more of the same. If you start to consciously substitute won't everytime you use can't, you are changing your narrative and you will not even consciously realize it. You will be priming your subconscious to move in a different direction. Something as simple as this little word change will have a significant effect overtime down the road. You will have a different physiological response when you switch up these words. You will think differently about situations particularly challenging ones.

The average person has command of about ten to fifteen thousand words. The average well read person can have command of one hundred thousand words. Think of the different ways one can experience life, emotions, feelings, creativity, etc. once you start to play with words and their applications. Reading, writing, and speaking are the best exercises to develop a large arsenal of words and to develop command of language. You can start by using won't instead of can't.

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Elliot is a personal development author. His latest book, "The Bitter & The Sweet: Benefits of a Balanced Perspective in Life, and How to Achieve It" out now.

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Elliot Yi

Elliot Yi

Elliot is a personal development author. His latest book, "The Bitter & The Sweet: Benefits of a Balanced Perspective in Life, and How to Achieve It" out now.

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