I read an awesome post from Soon I will be Successful (a great blog with articles on Psychology, Success and Happiness by Vince Favila – see his awesome manifesto at the bottom of this post and check out the site!) and I cannot stop thinking about it. The Amazing Power of I Don’t (Rather Than I Can’t): What do you say to yourself when you’re faced with temptation?
To reach many, if not most of the goals we’d like to achieve – losing weight, getting ahead at work, improving a relationship –it’s not just a matter of taking action. It’s hard to motivate yourself to adopt new habits, but it’s even harder to rid yourself of old ones. The beautiful thing about using this strategy is that it could not be easier – every time you catch yourself thinking I can’t have this, or I can’t do that, simply say No, I don’t do this, instead. For more science-based strategies you can use to reach your goals and get happier and healthier, check out her books Succeed: How We Can Reach Our Goals and Nine Things Successful People Do Differently.


More often than not, it’s the latter that keep us from becoming the person we really want to be.
I don’t care how much self-control you have – willpower alone is not going to do the trick. Here is a particularly useful one that was recently discovered by researchers at Boston College and the University of Houston.
After clearing the plates, your server says, “You know, we have an incredible chocolate cake on our dessert menu. Don’t and can’t may seem somewhat interchangeable, but they are very different psychologically. By the study’s end, 8 out of the 10 women using the I don’t strategy were still using it successfully, while only 1 of the 10 who used I can’t lasted that long.


We need to stop overeating, stop procrastinating, stop getting worked up over things that really don’t matter. And if there is one thing that social psychologists have learned over the years, it’s that even seemingly subtle differences in language can have very powerful affects on our thoughts, feelings and behavior.
Sixty-four percent of those who said I don’t, compared to only thirty-nine percent of those who said I can’t.
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