Unless you’re talking about licking your own elbow “I can’t” is one of those phrases that is such a downer. I like to help people. I like to help them solve problems or move out of their comfort zone. I like to help people get more power over their lives. Maybe that’s kind of obvious. After all I write about how people can be more self sufficient, better gardeners, how to raise landscape and how to live without the grocery store.
One of the comments I see the most in response to living this way is “I can’t.”
“I can’t grow food because my soil is so bad.”
“I can’t source local food because there aren’t any farms near me.”
“I can’t grow food because I don’t have the time.”
“I can’t do what you do because…”
Many times when I suggest solutions the excuse changes. This can become really frustrating.
I think one of the reasons people do this is because to them it’s all or nothing. They think they have to grow all of their food or none at all. They have to be successful out of the gate or it’s not worth it. But it doesn’t have to be like that. Even my biggest piece of advice is to start small and expect failure at first – but learn from it. Grow a pot of herbs on your windowsill or a tomato plant on your balcony. It doesn’t take much time when you start small and you might really enjoy it. You might enjoy it to the point where you’ll make the time to do more. Want to expand? Build a 4’x8′ raised bed in your backyard or join a community garden. There are opportunities everywhere. You just have to give up saying “I can’t” because you definitely can.
6 thoughts on ““I Can’t””
A lot of people talk a good game. Until people are truly ready to take action they will have excuses for every helpful hint you throw at them. Fear also plays into it… fear of the unknown, fear of failure.
I’m just getting started on the journey to self-sufficiency and it’s overwhelming, but instead of eating the elephant whole I’m taking it one bite at a time like you suggest. I’m going to be traveling in an RV for the better part of the next two years, so I bought an AeroGrow so that we can grow some of our own food on the road. It’s exciting for me to be able to do that! If you want to do something badly enough – you’ll find a way.
Great post 🙂
Good points! I’ve been feeling a bit of the “I Can’t” the last couple of weeks because “life” has gotten in the way of my homesteading goals and desires. I feel failure big time, but I’m going to soldier on and just do what I can manage, even if it means my garden won’t be as big or even in this year. At least I have the goals and the desire, and the humbling knowledge that I can’t get it all done at once. Thanks for the reminder!
I couldn’t agree more! I started with two sad potted zucchini plants in San Francisco. You can imagine how that turned out. The next year was a balcony full of fava beans, asparagus and herbs. The next year a 10×10 plot of broccoli and tomatoes and then the next year we went crazy. It’s because at each level I realized I loved growing things and wanted more. But you have to want more. I think many people use “I can’t” as a way of expressing that it’s not something they’ve been transfixed by (yet). Thanks for sharing!!
It can be frustrating when people actually ask for advice, you dispense it, and then you’re met with, I can’t in its various forms. I’ve been on the other side of that equation as well, thinking I can’t until I actually did.
I appreciate the patience with which I’ve received advice and always strive for the same patience when dealing with others. I’ve often found that “I can’t” really means, “I want to, but I need help and I don’t know how to ask.”
I think my “ease into it” attitude has really helped me. My favorite quote is don’t let perfection be the enemy of progress. I’m not striving for a specific destination, I’m on a journey of discovery. I had so much failure as a gardener that my expectations were very low, so when I was able to can 250#’s of tomatoes one summer I was hooked. I continue to learn from everything I attempt, I continue to seek advise and help and am thrilled with every harvest.
In Hungry for Change, Gabriel said that he used to say “I can’t” because he felt he couldn’t eat something. So he started to say “I can, but I don’t want to”. I am launching a tshirt company based on this exact theory. I can’t was something that I thought for a very long time – I can’t make ethical clothing choices, I can’t afford to give my children positive messaged shirts – but I just didn’t want to. I wasn’t trying to lick my elbow – I was trying to be defeated before I’d even made an effort. Turns out I can! In fact, I HAVE!!!!
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