CAN'T; another swear word
Thirty years, or so, ago I was looking for ways to encourage my kids to believe in themselves, develop independent thinking and come to the belief that they could do anything they wanted to do.
I recognized that success is a habit and likewise so is failure. A common refrain from our children when asked to do something new or learn something new such as learn to play the piano or learn a foreign language was, "I can't!" This word in response to attempts to do something new and seen as insurmountable was/is a cultural habit all too common. In fact the use of can't was/is so inculcated in our society that it could easily be seen as habitual.
I believe in the kernel of truth in the quote attributed to philosopher Aristotle: "We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit."
How to teach this to my kids? My dad was a great lecturer. As the recipient of many of those lectures I knew first hand how ineffective a technique that is to motivate change. And my approach to teaching my kids was to do it differently than what I found unsuccessful in what my parents did with me. On the other hand, my parents taught me that you'll respect the value of money better if you earn it yourself. I carried on that tradition with my children and they all had various jobs through the various stages in their growing up from snow shoveling, lawn care, paper routes, and dishwashers at local restaurants. One painted houses and another was a lifeguard at the local State park. The oldest proceeded from dishwasher to hostess. Each of them learned an early and lifelong respect for the dollar earned. So in keeping with that tenet, I thought perhaps a system of fines might work as a behavioral modifier.
The fine for using the "not" contractions was a dime. But it didn't stop there. There was a way to ward off a fine. When someone noticed your negative and pointed it out, you could immediately find a more positive way to state your point. However changing "I can't do it" to I can do it was not satisfactory. Example: I can't get up at seven AM could be stated like this; Because I stay up late at night I'm too tired to get up at seven. No fine. It forces one to examine the whys and wherefores of their comments.
Caveat: I'm currently in a FB exchange with my sixteen year old grand daughter over this "can't" issue. She says, "I can't get someone else to change their mind. I'm not being pessimistic, I'm being realistic." My response: If it's important to you to change a persons opinion you can and will. It comes down to what is important to you.
Adopting the habit of saying I can will give you access to success; Just saying :-)