I don’t vs I can’t

It’s really funny when you are reading or listening to two completely different things and they connect:

  • I was listening to a podcast about Annie Duke, where she was talking about an idea of tribes and how certain identity forming tribes can create a sense of belonging. This eventually helps form (good) habits, avoiding the need to think about certain choices. If you are a vegan, you don’t do dairy. Simple. There is no need to decide every time whether you want to take milk in your coffee. You just don’t.
  • Then I read this newsletter from James Clear, the author of Atomic Habits, who makes the point very beautifully: The phrase “I don’t” is a psychologically empowering way to say no, while the phrase “I can’t” is a psychologically draining way to say no.