Focus On The Can Do, Not The Can’t Do


I posted previously back in 2016 about focusing on what you can do, not what you can’t do, and I thought I’d refresh it.

With chronic/invisible illness, it can be quite easy to focus on the problems. The health issues, the ways they change us or impact us negatively, the limitations that are put on our lives, the things we struggle with, the things we can’t do. It’s harder to look at the positives or see the things we can do and the parts of us that do work, even if to varying degrees. By honing in on those things you can’t do or have, or the ways in which you feel constrained, limits your perspective and decisions even more so. This approach can apply to other limitations as well as health-related ones, such as with finances.

Take a step back.

What are the things you can do, however small? What ways around the illness or limitations can you find so that you’re still able to go about your day and do things you need and want to do? Think outside the box.  Work with what you’ve got.

Adjust your focus and expectations and make them more reasonable, logical and positive. Take note of the things you can be grateful for that often get lost in the midst of pain and illness. Instead of ‘I can’t do…’, change it to ‘but I can do…’.

By focusing on what you can’t do, you are reducing yourself to parts – parts that don’t work the way they should or the way you want them to. You’ve heard the saying by Aristotle : ‘The whole is greater than the sum of its parts’.  Well, so are you. You are more than the bits of your body, the bits of your brain. You are more than just the things you can’t do.

Take back some of your control. Look at what you can do, not what you can’t. You may just find that your options open up, that there are more things you are capable of that you give yourself credit for




  1. September 6, 2018 / 4:14 pm

    That’s a great message. I love the positivity of this post and I have learned in school that focusing on the can do’s help a lot! xx

    • September 12, 2018 / 4:25 pm

      I’m glad you liked it! Thanks for reading and the comment, Rose – I hope you have a positive week ahead 🙂

  2. September 6, 2018 / 4:48 pm

    Good post Caz. I guess it’s hard to remember what we can do when we’ve beaten ourselves up for so long over the things we can no longer do!. Will definitely try and focus on what I can do and be proud!. Hope you’ve had a day today .x

    • September 7, 2018 / 7:37 pm

      Toni… great reply!

    • September 12, 2018 / 4:25 pm

      I think the beating-yourself-up part is a hard one to overcome, especially when it becomes an ingrained thing to do. But you’re worth more than that, you’re allowed to (and should) be proud and happy and hopeful. Thank you for the great comment, Toni!  ♥

  3. Dancise fitness
    September 6, 2018 / 4:49 pm

    Thanks for sharing! This is a step forward for learning how to think positively! Focusing on the can do’s really does open up the options and make us think outside the box!

    • September 12, 2018 / 4:23 pm

      Definitely, it can open new avenues and show us things we perhaps hadn’t appreciated or noticed before. Thank you for reading and sharing your comment! 🙂

  4. September 6, 2018 / 4:56 pm

    Another great post 😊

    • September 12, 2018 / 4:23 pm

      Aw thank you very much, glad you liked it 🙂

  5. September 6, 2018 / 6:04 pm

    this is absolutely true for me — I use it a lot in terms of ‘what I can eat,’ rather than what I can’t, when I’m striving to eat more healthy

    • September 12, 2018 / 4:22 pm

      Yes, that’s a good way of applying it, too – focusing on the ‘can’t’ can end up being quite reductionistic and make us feel more negative, ie. towards food and healthy eating too. Thank you for sharing! 🙂

      • September 26, 2018 / 4:31 am

        I’ve also found sometimes that if I can go to yoga or a dance class, then I can focus on what’s working on my body, rather than what’s frustrating or worrying me at the moment…

  6. September 6, 2018 / 6:08 pm

    A lovely positive message Caz. I think gratitude for what we have in life also really helps. 🌼

    • September 12, 2018 / 4:21 pm

      Yes, a little reminder of gratefulness can go a long way. Thank you Brigid, I hope the rest of your week is positive 🙂

  7. Mishka
    September 6, 2018 / 6:53 pm

    Great post! It’s so healthy to do what you can and feel that sense of accomplishment. It doesn’t matter what other’s think, it’s about you feeling good about you! Hoping today is kind to you!🌸

    • September 12, 2018 / 4:21 pm

      A really good point – it’s feeling good about yourself, not what others think. Thank you so much for the comment, and I’m glad you liked the post! Have a good rest of your week  ♥

  8. September 6, 2018 / 7:55 pm

    Another fabulous post Caz! I especially like what you said about us reducing ourselves to parts when we focus more on what we can’t do than what we can. Looking at those things we CAN do, no matter how small, give us a sense of purpose and hope for the future. Thanks for sharing this again!

    • September 12, 2018 / 4:20 pm

      Definitely, looking at those things really can help with giving us hope and purpose and new avenues to explore. I’m really pleased you liked the post, Terri – thank you for the comment!  ♥

  9. September 6, 2018 / 9:11 pm

    Great post Caz and such an important thing to remember. This is something I constantly need reminding off as I do tend to think about the things I can’t do, especially since having MS. So thank you for this reminder today. 🙂 xxx

    • September 12, 2018 / 4:19 pm

      I think everyone can slip into that way of thinking, and that’s okay, but it’s helpful to pull our perspective and focus away from it when we can; easier said than done, but the reminders can help – really glad you liked the post, Heather, and thank you for the comment! 🙂

  10. September 6, 2018 / 11:02 pm

    We can certainly forget, particularly when ill, about those things we can do and have; it can be easy to slip into the miseries! Reminding ourselves really becomes so important in these times, and at all times really, Caz. A reminder, such as you have given, is a positive addition to our skill set.. A great post… 🙂

    • September 12, 2018 / 4:18 pm

      I’m glad you agree and the reminder is so important. Thank you for the great comment! 🙂

  11. September 7, 2018 / 7:08 am

    Really comforting post Caz. Like a big supportive hug just when I needed it. Thanks. Anita

    • September 12, 2018 / 4:18 pm

      Aw I’m glad you thought so, that’s great! Thank you for taking the time to comment, Anita, I appreciate it. Have a great rest of your week 🙂

  12. September 7, 2018 / 7:44 am

    This is exactly what we are told here in therapy. Focussing on what we can still do is a very good tool for mental health.

    • September 12, 2018 / 4:17 pm

      I’m glad they’re teaching that as an important aspect in therapy, definitely helps mental health I think 🙂

  13. September 7, 2018 / 9:53 am

    I think we’re all guilty of focusing on what we can’t do and how chronic illnesses/health conditions can affect us, and that’s OK sometimes. But it is important not to let us consume us, and to move on from those negative thoughts.

    • September 12, 2018 / 4:16 pm

      Totally agree – it’s about realising what we’re doing, accepting that’s okay, but taking ourselves away from the negative focus when we can to look at those things we can do. Thanks for the great comment, Rachel – have a good rest of your week 🙂

    • September 12, 2018 / 4:15 pm

      I’m glad you liked it 🙂

  14. September 7, 2018 / 3:49 pm

    I agree. We can only do so much. Do what you can and don’t stress over what you can’t.

    Have a fabulous day and weekend. ♥

    • September 12, 2018 / 4:15 pm

      I hope the rest of the week treats you well 🙂

  15. September 7, 2018 / 7:52 pm

    This is a great stress relief to do what you can and then feel good about it. Great reminder that we are all human and that we can feel good about our accomolishments. Thank you for this motivation Caz! 🤗

    • September 11, 2018 / 3:27 pm

      You’re right, we’re human and we can, and should, celebrate our achievements, no matter how big or small. Thanks for the comment, Christy! 🙂

  16. September 8, 2018 / 5:38 pm

    Great message, Caz. I accept what I can do as new normal, rather than what I can’t do as I once could before cancer! 🙂

    • September 11, 2018 / 3:29 pm

      Accepting the ‘new normal’ can be really hard, and I think it’s great you’re at a place when you can move forward with what you can do, with the ‘new normal’, after everything you’ve been going through. Thank you for the comment, Miriam – I hope you have a positive week ahead 🌷

  17. September 8, 2018 / 9:06 pm

    Excellent post! So inspirational ❤️


    • September 11, 2018 / 3:29 pm

      Thank you – I’m really glad you liked it! 🙂

  18. September 8, 2018 / 11:11 pm

    Thank you Caz for this amazing post! Honestly, this was just the type of reminder I needed. You always give the best advice and I do follow your example, or at least try to. I love everything you write because it all has SO much truth. I really appreciate this post more than I can even explain!

    • September 11, 2018 / 3:43 pm

      Alys, do you try to make me cry with your comments? That is incredibly kind, I’m so glad you liked the post & find what I write to be relatable. Thank you! Have a lovely rest of your week 🌷xx

  19. Mrs. Ram’s Jams
    September 9, 2018 / 1:57 am

    Caz, how you address invisible illness is admirable. Thank you for sharing. Thank you for your honesty. And thank you for writing. With love.

    • September 11, 2018 / 3:43 pm

      No, thank YOU for reading and the lovely comment!  ♥

  20. September 10, 2018 / 2:15 am

    You know, one does not need to have an identifiable illness or challenge for this lesson to resonate. This is good for us all to remember from time to time. It plays nicely with my other favorite, “Want what you already have, not what you don’t have.” Thank you for publishing a great post.

    • September 11, 2018 / 3:55 pm

      You’re exactly right, it can apply to anyone and everyone, and it is good to have a reminder sometimes, especially when society pushes and reinforces the need to be constantly busy. Thank you for the great comment, Janet – Have a lovely rest of your week 🙂

  21. September 10, 2018 / 10:03 am

    This is really true. Sometimes it feels overwhelming and it’s so easy to get sucked into a spiral of looking at everything negatively. It’s much tougher to focus on the things you can do, but so important.

    • September 11, 2018 / 3:58 pm

      Exactly, it’s easy to fall into the trap and sometimes we need a reminder; acceptance and working with what you’ve got and the current situation can be really hard, but it’s more painful I think in the long run to live focusing on the negatives, the problems and the things we can’t do. Thank you for the great comment! 🙂 x

  22. September 10, 2018 / 10:30 am

    Wonderful post Caz,

    that is great philosophy ,life philosophy.
    I believe deeply in perception. Wrong perception can ruin our life.
    We always have something negative in our life to think about.People are more focused in life on the things they don’t want than on the things they want.Just like in illness, we should focus on health, not on illness . We need to change our focus on the things we want in life. It is our energy and we need to decide where we will direct it 🙂

    Best regards Caz

    • September 11, 2018 / 4:26 pm

      Perception is certainly incredibly powerful. And I agree, the focus is better placed on health than illness. Thank you for a brilliant comment, Ben! Have a great week 🙂

  23. September 11, 2018 / 5:16 am

    This is good advice. Focusing on what can be done is a good way to approach life, Also, it’s okay if sometimes the answer is “nothing can be done today”, and hopefully that means there’s less pain tomorrow.

    • September 11, 2018 / 4:27 pm

      You’re right, we should be okay with not being able to do much or ‘achieve’ anything some days, rather than feel so bad about it. Thank you for sharing, Sean, I really appreciate the comment 🙂

  24. September 14, 2018 / 3:45 am

    Love this and your positive view, Caz! Great advice.

    • September 15, 2018 / 4:52 pm

      Thank you, glad you liked it! 🙂

  25. September 17, 2018 / 7:27 pm

    Love this! Thanks for the reminder…

    • September 24, 2018 / 5:29 pm

      Glad you liked it – it’s an important reminder for all of us I think 🙂

  26. September 23, 2018 / 11:52 am

    I love your post Caz and the bonus is reading all the wonderful and insightful comments it prompts!

    • September 24, 2018 / 5:30 pm

      Aw I’m really glad you liked it. And you’re right, the comments are fantastic! Have a lovely week ahead 🙂

  27. October 6, 2018 / 6:46 pm

    I’ve been focusing a little to much on the negative aspects as if late but since changing that things are getting easier. Just reading your words reminded me of this thanks for sharing, very inspiring

    • October 8, 2018 / 3:58 pm

      I think sometimes it can be hard to realise what we’re focusing on or know how to look at the positives and the things that we can do, so a small reminder from time to time can help. I’m really glad you liked the post – thank you so much for the comment and I hope this week is a little brighter for you, Diane 🙂

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