During a recent session with one of my clients, I noticed some of the words she was using were quite disempowering. I hadn’t realised that not everybody knows how language can be perceived and how important it is; the language we use not only when we’re talking to other people but also to ourselves. So I thought I’d put together a little guide for you on the importance of the words we use and what a difference they can make.
Letting yourself off the hook
How often have you asked somebody to do something or invited them to your party and they’ve replied ‘oh, I’ll try and do that’, or ‘I’ll try and come to your party’.
What’s your initial thought when you hear someone say ‘I’ll try’. My first thought is usually ‘oh they’re not really going to then’.
When we say ‘I’ll try’ it’s a way of letting ourselves off the hook, so that if we don’t do it we can tell ourselves that we only said we’d ‘try’, we didn’t definitely say we’d do it. It’s a way of avoiding having to do the things we’ve been asked to do or achieving the goals we’ve set ourselves.
It’s a habit we get ourselves in to and we often don’t even know we’re doing it
Sometimes people use ‘I’ll try’ as a way of saying no without actually saying no! We’re all guilty of this now and then, but if you find yourself doing it a lot, maybe it’s time to practice the ‘N word’ a bit more.
My advice to you would be to begin to be aware of when you say ‘I’ll try’ and turn it in to something more definite, like:
‘Yes, I will’
‘Yes, I could do that’
It’s okay to say that you have to consider X or Y before you commit. You’re already doing much better than ‘I’ll try’.
Or you could always say ‘No, that doesn’t work for me’ 🙂
“Do or do not, there is no try” ~ Yoda
I can’t! Actually, I could!
Another thing we tend to say quite a lot is ‘I can’t’.
I can’t sing
I can’t dance
I can’t speak in front of an audience
I can’t do that..
When I share with people that I sing in a choir I often get the response ‘I can’t sing’. But the truth is, yes you can. We can all sing (make sounds with our voices). Whether we’re considered by others to be melodic is another question, but we can all sing.
When we say we can’t do this or that it’s terribly disempowering. It’s taking the power away from us and putting it onto something or someone else.
An alternative would be to say ‘I could’.
‘I could sing, but I choose not to.’
‘I could learn to dance the tango, but I don’t want to at the moment.’
‘I could speak in front of an audience, but it’s not my thing.’
So, rather than saying ‘I can’t’ it’s saying ‘I choose not to’ or ‘I choose to do it later’.
Should, Have To, Need To, Must, I Ought To.
Usually the things we tell ourselves we ‘should’ be doing are things we ‘want’ to do, but the words we use are disempowering.
- I need more money
- I have to feel better
- I must have that handbag
- I should do the ironing
- I ought to be doing better by now
By telling yourself that you need, must, should or have to do something; it’s putting the power outside of you. It’s saying ‘I have to do this, because….’ some other thing, person or entity is making me, which is really disempowering.
To feel more empowered we could choose different language, so we could say:
- I choose to…
- I choose not to…
- I want to…
- I will…
Replacing for instance; ‘I need more money’ with ‘I choose to create more opportunities to earn money’.
‘Oh, I must do the housework’
How often on a Sunday do you think you should be doing something (something other than sitting about I mean!) But why should you? Is someone demanding that you do?
Instead, make it a choice – choose to do the housework or choose not to. You could say to yourself, ‘I choose not to do the housework today, instead I am going to take some time off and enjoy the day; recharge my batteries’.
That’s a quick run through of some of the words you might be using and how they might be secretly stealing your power. If you notice that you’re ‘shoulding’ on yourself, think about the ways that you can turn it around, using the examples I’ve given you, and see how you feel.
The more you do it, the more you’ll pick up on it
You’ll slip back in to your current language easily to begin with, but just be aware of that and think about how you could’ve used more empowering language – it’ll soon become second nature and you’ll be choosing to think in a more empowering way.
I hope you find this useful. Do let me know how you get on, what changes you’ve seen and as always, love and gratitude.
OOh yes, I found this very helpful… I WILL be much more mindful of this f
rom now on xxxx
Definitely made me think about how l say things, and yes, those little tweaks do make a difference…positivity and a sense of increased assertiveness/control…. once l started making some initial changes. Thanks Cindy.
Thanks for that Karen, I’m glad you found it helpful, keep up the good work 🙂
Thanks Cindy – was something we touched on while on a training course last week, so a good reminder!
Thank you Sue, good to know it was relevant for you 🙂
I know these are the words I use all the time. They have become second nature. I think for me it’s so I don’t have to fully commit myself. But I don’t know why this should be.
Thank you Cindy for sharing.
Thanks Debbie, most of us do, so you’re not alone. Even just this awareness will help you spot when you’re doing it 😀
Great article Cindy. This is really useful and empowering. I choose to is a real positive, and I won’t be ‘trying’ anymore.
Thank you Bernadette, I’m glad you found it useful – tiny tweaks = big differences 😀