I do not think that term means what most people think it means.
As my kids would quickly confirm, that phrase was not allowed in our household when they were growing up. I simply didn’t want to hear “I can’t”. If there was an obstacle to accomplishing a goal, and I was going to hear about it at all, I only wanted to hear what the obstacle was, and what their plan was to overcome it. Ideally, I would only hear about it in retrospect and get a report in the past tense: what the obstacle had been and how they overcame it.
Sure. There actually are some things in the world that as human beings we physically “can’t” do on our own.
A human being “can’t” lift a 2 ton block of granite to the top of a 480 foot pyramid.
A human being “can’t” fly to the moon.
A human being “can’t” make it from New York to LA in less than 48 hours.
But, as history and technology demonstrate, those are not limitations, but obstacles to overcome.
In common usage, when the average human being says “I can’t”, it doesn’t really mean that they literally and physically cannot achieve their goal; what is means is “I choose not to.”
Two completely different things.
“I can’t” in this context is a cop out. By saying “I can’t” they relinquish control of the situation and give themselves permission to quit. To give up. To not accomplish that which they know they should accomplish.
And that’s a shame.
“I can’t” is the most debilitating phrase known to mankind and it should be stricken from our language.
There are many things in this life that I didn’t do, didn’t accomplish, didn’t achieve. But not a single one of them was because I couldn’t. They were because I chose not to. I chose not to put the effort into overcoming the obstacles. I chose not to invest the time, endure the hardships, continue the struggle. I chose to invest myself in other priorities…or I just chose to quit…but every one of those was a choice. And it is my responsibility to live with the consequences of those choices…both good and bad.
The obstacles we face in life are irrelevant. There are ALWAYS obstacles. The only thing that is relevant is whether we have the determination and will to do what it takes to overcome them.
“Try not. Do; or do not. There is no try.”