The Most Negative Word in the World

I have taken a break for the last month, partly because my body was rebelling, partly because I needed one and mostly because I’ve been telling myself for quite a while that I wanted one. For 4+ years straight I’ve gone from one increasingly challenging goal to the next. The break wasn’t everything I thought it would be. I’ve changed. I’m not the same person I was before I started this journey. I got bored in 40 days.

I’ve been asked many times what continues to motivate me. I have also been asked when I’m going to return to normal life. Even one of my own children asked me why I didn’t just want to relax and enjoy getting older.

The more I actually live the life I used to read about in books, the more life I discover there is to pursue. I’ve been blessed for sure, I am grateful everyday and humbled. I had a very content life, happy but naive about the world and even myself. My journey has opened my eyes to the world, made me deal with parts of myself I didn’t really enjoy and brought me many passions.4b14af7ddf4e116e7c3944757ae48b61

I started something that I have no desire to stop. My body might tell me to ease off a bit at times, that’s fine, I just rejig and go at it another route. What I’ve discovered is being willing to start and push my limits has provided the gift of enlightenment. My eyes were opened so wide that there were days I found it difficult sitting at my desk in between adventures. That made me change my career focus to one where I feel appreciated, have a greater purpose, get to give back and one I am truly passionate about. You could say that I have pretty much changed all aspects of my life since coming back from climbing Kilimanjaro. It was my mountain in more ways than one.

In my talks on motivation I have a much longer answer but the reality of what motivates me is really this simple – I Can! Each step to proving ‘I can’ over the last 4+ years has provided me with increasingly bigger eyeballs, dreams, opportunities and needs. It is now an absolute requirement in my life to push myself to overcome my fears. Each success, no matter how small, puts more challenges in front of me and a whole new experience of apprehensive doubt that I seem incapable of putting aside. My world is much bigger, so are my dreams.


With all my faults, health ailments, injuries, fears, excuses and advanced procastination skills, I somehow find a way to keep moving forward. Because I Can.

Not only am I not normal, there is no normal in my world. My life is a continuous discovery; a succession of goals without an end point. Hitting a goal is simply a moment in time but the process of getting to that goal opens my mind to the next momentary plateau of normal. By the time I reach a goal, there are already the faint outlines of another goal enticing me to continue. Because I Can.

Tackling each new goal has taught me more about myself, forced me to turn ignorance to learning and intentionally deal with bad habits that might hold me back in achieving my goals. Each goal makes me a better person. Each success makes me more grateful in every aspect of my life. I see people more clearly now and I find my listening skills are far superior to my former self. Not only do I listen to others better, I hear my inside voice very clearly. I trust my instincts better. I really like myself, I have greater respect for myself and it is all due to one crazy word. CAN.

Even later in life, I am able to take on the life I have read about others pursuing. I get to smash my own perception of things just because I tell myself that I CAN.

So what do you think I believe is the most negative word in the world? A word that defeats you before you even start. A word that closes down conversations, dreams, confidence and hope. A word that discourages young women and older women from pursuing anything, absolutely anything that they want. A word that can squash a child’s infinite potential. A word that is so ingrained in our society and minds yet spawns negative thinking. A word that prevents people from being the person they were truly meant to be, all in, accepted, free and full of potential.

The word is Can’t.

Do you know there is not even a definition of this word? The best I could find was ‘contraction of can not’. A word that can destroy hope and hold people back isn’t even truly recognized by Merriam-Webster or Cambridge dictionaries. Fascinating.

So let’s stop using it!

There is actually no use for this word that moves anyone or anything forward. The next time you go to use this word try to catch yourself, think about why you’re about to use it and how you can turn it into a Can instead. Give power back to yourself. If you’re using the word toward someone else, jig it to an explanation, take full responsibility for the harsh judgement you’re about to bestow on another human being from saying the word can’t and instead leave your audience with a reason, a real answer, honesty, rather then such a finite conclusion.

Just imagine what my life would look like now if I’d let myself say or think the following; “I can’t run, I hate running”, “I can’t climb mountains”, “I can’t leave my high paying job”, “I can’t lose weight”, “I can’t run marathons”, “I can’t overcome cancer while training for a marathon and starting a new career”. Maybe, just maybe, all the Can’s I have recited over the last 5 years were meant to be. For the purpose of overcoming. Because I CAN.

It all begins with a word. It all begins with you.

More of my CAN’s to follow   😉  #NoLimits  #CelebratingMy50s

7 thoughts on “The Most Negative Word in the World

  1. Usha Iyer

    Dear Karen

    So motivating and written truthfully ..

    Been on the journey with you and salute all your successes.. looking forward to more adventures..:

    Let me know if you have time to catch up before year end

    Best wishes USha Sent from my iPhone



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