“Don’t Give Up” vs. “I Know You Can Do It”

As many of you know, in addition to running the Wow-world (how vast and pretentious that sounds!) I also teach Ashtanga yoga.

If you’re someone who practices yoga, you know that there are lots of poses that push the boundaries of your mental and physical limits.

When working with some of my students on these poses I’ve been known to say, “Don’t give up!” when I see them begin to falter but also see that they have the ability/capacity to complete the pose. (Yes, that’s me with some of my beautiful students, above.)

What occurred to me this week was how negative “Don’t give up” is.

For starters, beginning anything with “Don’t” isn’t likely to make people feel snappy; and following that with “give up” has the potential to make them do that very thing.

Given this, I scrabbled around in my brain and remembered what my beloved teacher says to me when he sees me at my limit:

“I know you can do it, France. I know you can do it.”

(Yes, he calls me France and I cherish it.)

And guess what? When he says it, I can do it.

So, on the off chance any of you have been encouraging those around you with a negative—or are in need of some encouragement yourselves—I thought I’d write and ask you to phrase your encouragement in the positive:

“I know you can do it.”


For more on the benefits of phrasing things in the positive, take a look at this piece that makes the distinction between, “Don’t freak out,” and “Remain calm.”