Banish These 4 Words and Phrases!

Your mindset plays a huge role in creating your reality. Explore a situation from two different perspectives, and your resulting experiences will bear little resemblance to each other.

The words you use are a big part of your mindset. Your language, whether internal or in a conversation with someone else, affects your attitude, emotions, and actions.

Words can motivate, build your confidence, and help you happily achieve your goals.

Or words can stop you in your tracks, erode your self-esteem, and squeeze the joy out of success.

No one chooses the latter group intentionally. (At least no one I know!) Yet we all tend to use words and phrases that create just those sorts of experiences.

To positively impact your mindset, increase your sense of personal power, and achieve more of what matters to you, try banishing these four words and phrases from your vocabulary.

Sitting atop the list of disempowering words, can’t has a feeling of sigh, grumble, and grrr.

Can’t suggests you have zero power or control over your situation. But unless you’re being held captive in someone’s basement, you have some choices.  In fact, though it may not feel that way, you’re actually making a choice even as you say “I can’t.”

For instance, “This project will have me working 60+ hours a week, but I can’t say no,” might really mean, “I’m unwilling to take the chance that my boss finds my answer unacceptable, so I’m choosing to say yes.” Or it could mean, “I’m choosing to lead this project because it will be good for my career.”

Sometimes the available options make your choice a no-brainer. Other times, you’ve defaulted into can’t because the alternatives feel risky or uncomfortable. No matter what the case, can’t is rarely true; you’re usually making a trade-off, even though you may not be consciously aware of it.

Eliminate can’t from your vocabulary.  Get honest about the trade-offs you’re willing to make.  You’ll discover yourself making choices that are in alignment with what’s really right for you.

Have to
From the time she was eight years old, my niece Alyssa often told me, “You’re so lucky to be a grown-up!  No one can make you do anything!”

She was right. Yet we often act as if we’re at the mercy of what everyone else asks – or tells – us to do.

But you don’t have to do anything. Of course there are trade-offs, but you’re in charge of which ones you choose.

Purging have to from your word list creates opportunities to take responsibility for making conscious choices.

I wish I could do … be more like … had…
In a recent coaching call, my client Peggy said, “I wish I could – ” and then abruptly stopped in mid-sentence.   After a long pause, she admitted, “Actually, I could. I’m just scared.”

Most of those times when you wish you could do or could have or could be more like, you actually can … when you’re willing to act.

So instead of wishing, change your actions and your language. Assess your options and evaluate your trade-offs. If you decide to act, go for it – get moving with a plan. And if you choose to let it go, replace “I wish” with, “While it would be nice to …, instead I have chosen to …”

I’m going to make this happen
This was my M.O for years.  And at first blush it sounds good. I was putting my stake in the ground, making a serious commitment.

But one day I heard what I was really saying: “I’m in control of everything impacting this outcome.  I have the power to make it happen.”

Yeah, right!

The words evoked a sense of brute force and a feeling of no matter what it takes. Not only is that a recipe for stress, but it sets you up to barrel right past signs suggesting a modified direction or different approach might be warranted.

Instead of trying to make things happen, shift your focus – and your language – and create the conditions to allow your goals to come to fruition. As in, “I’m going to do what I can do to allow this to happen.”

You’ll lower your stress and redirect your energy and enthusiasm to where it will have the greatest positive impact.

Changing your language takes awareness and honesty – awareness of your words and thoughts, and vigilant honesty about what’s true.

It takes effort and practice, and it yields a high return.

Change your words and change your life!

Language is the inventory of human experience. ~ L. W. Lockhart


Leave a Comment