If you think there is no real difference, you couldn’t be more wrong. Don’t and can’t may seem somewhat interchangeable, but they are very different psychologically. And if there is one thing that social psychologists have learned over the years, it’s that even seemingly subtle differences in language can have very powerful affects on our thoughts, feelings and behaviour.

I don’t is experienced as a choice, so it feels empowering. It’s an affirmation of your determination and willpower. I can’t isn’t a choice – it’s a restriction, it’s being imposed upon you. So thinking “I can’t” undermines your sense of power and personal agency.