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“I Can’t” vs. “I Don’t”

I want to share with you some research that recently came out of a Journal of Consumer Research study.

Researches took two groups of 60 undergrads. One group was told each time they were faced with the temptations such as ice cream, to tell themselves, “I can’t.” The second group was told to say to themselves, “I don’t.” One group of these undergrad groups said, “I can’t eat ice cream.” The other group said, “I don’t eat ice cream.” Here’s what they found out:

The the students that said, “I can’t” adopted a mentality of having to deny themselves from eating something enjoyable, like ice cream or chocolate. When offered an award for saying no, 61% chose a chocolate bar vs a health bar. Of those that said, “I don’t” something amazing happened: 79% of those undergrads chose the health bar as a reward versus the chocolate bar!

When we go through life resisting things that tempt us and we say, “I can’t do that. I can’t do that because I’m a Christian,” or “I can’t do that because God’s Word says I’m not supposed to” we have a mentality of self denial instead of self respect. Rather than going through life saying, “I can’t,” start saying, “I don’t.” This gives us more power within ourselves from God to say no to something.

I was talking to my sons the other day. They brought up the point that a lot of their friends are having a casual drink every now and then and think there’s nothing wrong with that. I told them, “Here’s what I’ve decided in my life. I’ve decided I’m not going to drink. It’s not because I can’t. Just because you can do something doesn’t necessarily mean that you should do something. One drink becomes two drinks, becomes three drinks… When is the right time to cut off the limit? When you’re in your twenties and when you’re in your thirties and you don’t have the character or the emotional maturity, I think sometimes you start something now that continues in your forties and when you get to my age of 53 that can really begin to slow you down and hold you back from God’s best in your life.”

Maybe there’s some temptation you deal with in your life. There’s a difference in how you approach it. Going through life saying, “I can’t do something” is less effective than just admitting, “There are just some things I just don’t do. I don’t want to go there and I don’t have to go there.” We can find enjoyment in life in so many other things and not get ourselves wrapped up in bad habits.

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You’re God’s Best!

Carl Toti


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