January 12, 2016

"No I Can't" and by Saying That, I Know I Am One of the Most Positive Persons on The Earth

English: Think positive
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)
"Yes I can!", or "No, I can't", seem to be the signs of positive and negative personality for most people to identify. Over stated? Just look at those overwhelmingly "liked" facebook posts, we get idea.

Long ago I told a by-then friend of mine that "I can't do" something due to my critical illness (oh yes I was all time ill for over a decade - a decade of NEGATIVENESS!), he "kindly" preached to me by saying: "Mei, I don't like to hear you say you can't", as if I said that just by a willful "choice" - another concept worshiped by freewill addicted culture. Without his explanation I knew why he said that, because it was my "upbeat" personality that drew him to me, so naturally my constant remarks of "I can't" really did not reflect his impression of me. Obviously we had "problem" with communication and friendship died soon after.

My "negative" remark of "I can't" did not only discourage just one person, or one "friend", but majority of my social circle, though my social circle was merely a few acquaintances (poor me!). Anyway, I found that despite I fought a "bloody" battle that most normally healthy people can never imagine, my realistic attitude, which direct come from my positive mindset and the courage (at least by my understanding), upset many people, because what I said did not fit what they saw, or what they "knew" about me. And I found this simply is because lots of people are used to view complicated matters - such as "personality" - by some simple and immediate signals, or something superficial, something can be easily recognized, such as slogans of "yes I can" or "no I can't".

A professional weightlifter say "yes I can" to some heavy barbells might be a sign of confidence, but a pallid youngster say the words to the same barbell could be merely a whim of vanity. A normally healthy person say "yes I can" to a 30 minutes jogging is perfect normal, but a person with heart disease say "no I can't" to the same task is only to respect the fact. So the same words can convey totally different meanings. I understand perfectly that certain amount of repetitions of "yes I can" do increase our adrenaline and make us to achieve some tasks that are more or less beyond our limitation, but I also understand that this is still limited, only to a certain extent. So generally speaking, words, sounds, voices, even actions or behaviors, are all "effects", and in order to understand the causes beneath these effects, we must put contexts under our consideration, otherwise, we are doomed to get wrong ideas. Unfortunately, this world is getting busier and busier, especially in this ever-changing information era, people truly don't have time for "contexts", and they would be just perfectly happy if you constantly say "yes I can!', even though the truth is simply "no I can't."

I must add, at the end, that I have no problem with the kind of positive attitude which brings positive results, such as happiness, even euphoria. I only have problem with taking positive attitude as a scientific fact, thus misjudge negative situations and consequently, fail to see and show compassion to misfortunes on this Earth.


  1. Yun, I don’t consider your “I can’t” remark negative at all because your reason for saying that had to do with your illness. It wasn’t like you were refusing to do something; it was that you were physically unable to do something due to your health. I don’t consider that negative, I consider it realistic and straightforward. I think you’re right that your realistic attitude upset some people because it didn’t fit what they thought they knew about you. Having a positive attitude is great but just as you wrote, there are limitations at times and words and actions need to be viewed in context and with compassion. Great post!