The words we say matter and more than we might think. Often it’s the little words that we’ve conditioned ourselves to say that speak the loudest. Years ago, I had a coach who was kind of scary, but only because she forced me to really take a hard look at myself. I hated it, and I really wanted to quit, but something kept me coming back each week. You see…she saw things in me that I definitely didn’t see in myself and one day – I got hit over the head with a 2×4 when she made me look at four words I had to change to improve my life.
I still slip up but not as often because I’m like an athlete in training – I’m always trying to improve. I’m deliberate about what I’m saying especially to myself. When I say these words today, I’m falling back in my old ways of being a people pleaser and not in a good way. In truth…these 4 words hold you back and cause undue stress.
Now I can read self-help blogs or books and I can watch videos all day long (and sometimes I do), but unless I take an ACTION and CHANGE something…none of it matters. After continually taking a beating, I finally decided to pay attention to these 4 words because how we speak impacts our outlook on life and our psychology.
Often we automatically choose words that are not empowering and leave us in a weak position. Imagine if our words gave us confidence to fully express who we are and want to be.
Here then are the 4 most common words that trip us up and you can change them if you make a decision.
1. Should – Ugh! How often do you find yourself using this word? My coach used to say that should is like “chocolate-coated guilt!” Using “should” on yourself and others (think children) is the same as saying, “there’s a whole group of perfect people out there who have set the standard for how to behave or perform, and if I fall short, I will never be perfect.” No pressure whatsoever.
Instead try replacing “should” with “will” or “will not.” This gives you a way to get clear about what matters to you and you’ll have a better chance of following through on what you choose to do.
2. Can’t – My mother always said, “Can’t never did anything!” I hated when she would say that, but she was right. We totally limit ourselves when we say “can’t.” “I can’t make it to your party.” Of course you can. You know exactly how to make it, but you’re choosing not to go or you have another commitment. “I can’t go on a trip by myself.” Yes you can. You can buy a ticket, get on the plane, arrive and there you are. If you don’t want to travel alone, that’s a different story. “I can’t lose weight.” Yes you can. You just might not want to do what it takes. When you use “can’t,” you limit yourself to decide and act. Can’t is a total cop out. Next time you’re tempted to use “can’t,” try using “won’t” or “I don’t want to.” This way you’re managing what’s true for you. Speaking the truth is empowering.
3. Try – Another lame word that we use way too often. “I’ll try.” This word sums up avoidance like nothing else. It’s non-committal and really, it’s unfair to the person who gets an “I’ll try” answer. You either will or won’t. Think about this for a minute – “Will you come to my game?” – “I’ll try.” If this person is an optimist, you’re setting her up for disappointment when you don’t show. And if the person is a pessimist, she’s already cynical because your response rings hollow. Plus…you set yourself for stress when you don’t or won’t commit. (I’ve been guilty of this many times and it’s awful.) If you have to think about what you will or won’t do, then say, “Let me check my calendar and I’ll let you know one way or the other.” You don’t have to go, but you don’t want to be the flaky person that can’t be counted upon to show up.
Try is even more dangerous when we use it on ourselves. As a coach, I cringe when a client is introduced to some forward movement and her response is, “I’ll try.” For the record there is no try. You either do it or you don’t. You will or you won’t. I can’t help you “try,” but I can help you break through your personal barriers if you’re open. Try says to me that you’re closed and I should just pack my bag and go home. It’s okay to say…”I’m scared or I have no idea how I’ll accomplish this, and I’m going to want help.” That’s being in integrity and I can help with that.
4. Need – Really you don’t need to do anything. You either want to or you don’t. If you go through life saying, “I need to lose 40 pounds,” you won’t do it. It’s not until your needs become yours musts that things change. Need is just a way of dismissing what is staring you in the face. We use this word for the littlest things. “I need to clean my house.” No you don’t. Your house will stand without being clean. Maybe you want to clean your house, but you don’t need to. Do you see the difference?
This week choose one word and listen to how often it shows up in other people vernacular and yours. Who do you say it to? When does it come out of your mouth? Can you find a more authentic way to express yourself?
Don’t worry if you find every other word is one of the four above. It’s taken me 5 years to get rid of these words and I still mess up. Messing up is part of life. You can, however, experience amazing results just from reframing your speech.
Words matter. You matter. Own your stuff and LIVE BIG!