Words begin and end wars. They create and destroy families. They break hearts. They heal them. If you have the right words, there’s nothing on earth you can’t do.”
– Lori Handeland
Words have power.
The words you use on a daily basis—even the ones you use to think—can have a huge impact on your mood, productivity, and success.
Look at the next two sentences and take note of what you felt after:
- Red. Angry. Distressed. Upset. Horrible.
- Smile. Freedom. Happy. Light. Delight.
The first sentence radiates with negativity. Surrounding yourself with such words would bring you down.
Yet, this example is a bit extreme. Those words aren’t floating around your head daily. The word choice that is sabotaging your success is usually more subtle.
Let’s take a look at 3 phrases that people use all the time and how those phrases pull them down:
1. I can’t
What to say instead: I don’t
Saying “I can’t” puts you in the prohibition mindset. You can’t do that. You are forbidden from it.
What will your response be?
You’ll want to do it even more.
You’ll obsess over it.
In the end, you’ll give in and do the thing.
It’s like when someone dares you to do something, thinking you won’t be able to. You do it just to prove them wrong. Whether or not you wanted to do it becomes irrelevant; they said you couldn’t, so you had to.
Instead, you should change the perspective by saying ‘I don’t’.
Perhaps you’re trying to break your phone addiction. Don’t say ‘I can’t use my phone from 9 AM to 12 PM’. Say, ‘I don’t use my phone during this time’.
It’s a choice—a decision you made. It’s not something you’re forbidden from doing. It’s part of your self-identity. You’re not the kind of person who does that.
2. I have to
What to say instead: I will
I have to do the dishes. I have to make my bed. Saying ‘I have to’ makes the work seem like a chore. Even if it’s something you’ve chosen to do, when the time comes to do it, it’s something you’re forced to do.
It must be done, and you dread the thought of doing it. You gave up control and now have no say in the matter.
Instead, say I will do this.
You’re regaining the control. Why would you dread doing something you chose to do?
This works for things you don’t really want to do, as well. I will to study to pass my licensing test has a whole different tone than I have to study to pass my licensing test.
3. It will be OK
What to say instead: I will make it OK
Being positive is a great thing for sure, but sometimes optimism can actually impede your success.
Believing that everything will work out in the future prevents you from taking action now. And without action, nothing will work out.
If you tell yourself that you will make it OK, on the other hand, you are taking the responsibility and being proactive.
You are informing your subconscious that you will do what it takes to control the situation. You will determine the outcome.
These simple changes in how you phrase when talking to yourself and others will change the way you see your work and make it more desirable.
Monitor your word choices. Do the words you currently use frame what you do in a negative light? How can you rephrase?