THE BLOG

The 6 Most Dangerous Words and Phrases

02/05/2015 04:45 pm ET | Updated Apr 07, 2015
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Communication is a powerful tool. Words have the power to hurt, heal, inspire, motivate, or isolate another person. Most people, particularly those that are judged on their words, like politicians, leaders, and those in the media, are careful about what they say. Imagine how powerful it would be to choose what you say to yourself as carefully as you choose what to say to others.

"The most important conversation you will ever have is the one you have with yourself." -- Karen Ann Kennedy

When I started to pay attention to my internal dialogue I realized that I said things to and about myself that I would never say to or about another person. When I started to be more discerning about my internal dialogue I noticed how much better I felt about myself and what was going on around me.

Part of that exercise was systematically striking certain words and phrases from my vocabulary. By letting these dangerous words and phrases go, I was able to help stop the negative thinking that was taking over my thought patterns.

Try consciously eliminating these words and phrases from your inner dialogue.

1. "Whatever."
Stop saying whatever. When someone asks you what you want, know what it is and verbalize it. Saying whatever is like taking a back seat in your own life. Life is not whatever, and "whatever" is the gateway drug to the more pervasive...

2. "I don't care."
You should always care about the things that have the capacity to affect your life. You may not really have a strong preference for where to go to dinner or what movie to see, but saying you don't care is an easy out and if you start to use it continuously on the small things it will make it that much easier to use it on the bigger things. Suddenly your "I don't care" about where to eat dinner becomes "I don't care" which house we buy, which job I take, or how many kids we'll have. It's your life; you need to care about it.

3. "Should."
Should, and its other family members, shouldn't and should've, need to be stricken from your vocabulary. "Should" creates a sense of guilt. I should go to the gym; I should do the laundry; I should eat a salad. Should has a very close cousin named "instead." I should go to the gym instead of sleeping in; I should do the laundry instead of taking the kids to the park, I should eat a salad instead of a slice of pizza. Turn that should into a could. I could go to the gym; I could do the laundry, I could eat a salad; because everything you do in life is a choice. You are making a conscious choice to do what you are doing. Stop should-ing yourself to death, instead, make a decision about what you are going to do and then go do it without regret.

4. "It's fine."
Is it really fine? Look on the Internet and there's no shortage of jokes about women and their use of the word fine, but know that overuse of this word is no laughing matter. Many of us are wired to be people pleasers and to go with the flow or not make waves, so we go along with things that we don't really want to keep the peace. If something is not sitting well with you then it's not fine and it needs to be addressed. When you make everything fine (even though it isn't) you can easily morph into being a human doormat, and take it from me, a reformed doormat, being a doormat is never fine!

5. "Can't."
Can't is an ugly word for many reasons, not the least of which is that it is a limiting word. When you say that you can't do something it's like your brain says, "okay," and then you really aren't able to do that very thing. The other problem with the word can't is that it becomes a habitual and automatic response. I am awful at math, so the minute I see anything with numbers my knee-jerk response is, "Oh, I can't do that." I don't even give myself a chance to look at it what it is. Years of responding with "I can't" has caused me to have an automatic negative response that keeps me from even trying. I started to ditch my "can't" when I started taking karate. Our wonderful and patient instructors would answer every "I can't do that" with, "Sure you can, you just haven't gotten it yet." Ditch your can't!

6. "It is what it is."
This is the one that sparks the most controversy when I suggest letting it go to my health coaching clients. "But sometimes, it really is what it is," they will tell me. Sure, I get that. Sometimes the car really does have a flat tire, your sixth-grader is failing history, and your boss is a jerk. And while you may not be able to change all the circumstances, and you certainly won't be able to change other people, you can change how you react and deal with issues. Saying "it is what it is" is a cop out; a lazy excuse so you don't have to deal with issues. Things will always be what they are, but if something in your life is not working well, deal with it, don't bury your head in the sand and fall into the false thinking that says you are stuck.

If you need a few replacement words for the ones you are kicking to the curb, try a few of these on for size: powerful, smart, can-do, thoughtful, inspired, motivated, creative, important and special. Say them loud, say them proud, and say them often. You owe it to yourself to have positive, empowering conversation that inspires you and makes you feel confident.