Art of Life/Donna Parker

Donna Parker

Limiting Words You Should Never Say (hint that’s two already)

“Life has no limitations, except the ones you make.” — Les Brown

One of the greatest attributes of people is the ability to grow, to change, and to develop.  Who I was five years ago is not who I am today.  I have found a valuable piece of advice, perhaps told more often than anything else: You can do anything you want if you put your mind to it.

There are limitations. There are conditions. There are rules. There are impossibilities.

Or are there?

What if the simple answer to achieving massive success in your life was staring at you in the face all along? What if you really could do anything you put your mind to?

The truth is, everything is possible, and if you want to achieve success in your life you need to believe that.

Thoughts become things, plain and simple. The way you think and the way you speak determines how your world looks, how you feel on the inside and how others perceive you on the outside. If there is one thing many successful people all have in common is that they keep things moving forward; they think positively about the outcomes they desire to achieve and they convey this with their verbal and non-verbal body language.


I first encountered this mindset shift when reading Rich Dad Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki. In this book, Kiyosaki tells the story of his two “fathers," one rich and one poor. His poor dad always said, “I can’t afford it.” His rich dad always asked, “How can I afford it?” As Kiyosaki explains, changing your words from a statement to a question allows your brain to start working. Suddenly, you begin thinking and planning. You strategize. You learn. You grow. And before you know it, the thing you said could not be done is done.

“We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.” — Albert Einstein

Think back to the past week. When have you used the words “I can’t?” When have you shut your brain off? When have you let an attitude of failure, rather than an attitude of success, rule in your life? How can you transform these statements?

So what does all of this have to do with 10 words to remove from your vocabulary? First, understand that these words are limiting and not surprisingly, they are all negative in nature. Negativity is contractive in nature therefore it limits itself and leads to stalemate and stagnation. Positivity is expansive in nature and leads to new avenues. 10 limiting negative words, follow:

Have to, Need to, Must: These three words are responsible for more unhappiness and pressure than most. They all imply that you have no choice, no option, that you are a victim of the situation and that you have no control over how you feel and what you want to accomplish.

We all use them, it happens. Your friend calls you to hang out and you reply, “I can’t tonight, I have to work.” You do not have to do “anything.” You chose to work, then you are choosing to be unhappy too. This may sound harsh; that is not my intent. My intent is to show the power of our words. Now, if you do not work and you go out with your friend, you may not finish and you might get fired — again that is a choice. The same goes for things you “must do” or “need to” do. They all imply no choice, no freedom. The next time your friend asks you to go out and you “have to work,” tell them the truth and let them know you are “choosing to work.” Watch the pressure this change in your mindset releases and watch as it lowers your stress levels to the things you are resisting.

Should, Would, Could: I should be better… I would follow my passions if…. If you should be doing it, then you would be doing it. Using words like should implies that what you are doing right now is wrong and not in-line with what is right for you. Even something as simple as saying to yourself: “I shouldn’t be relaxing right now. I“should be working” implies error, and then you are right because at that point you are not even relaxing! You have got noise going on behind the scenes telling you your choices are not correct. Tell those noises to quiet down. We live in a world which is constantly telling us how we should look, feel and be — the last thing we all need is to compound this stress by doing the same to ourselves and others for that matter.

Always and Never: Listen to someone who “knows it all.” You will constantly here them saying “well, I would never do that” or “I always do this.” When we use words like never and always, we are projecting our current thoughts onto a future situation, one we do not truly know how it will unfold, how we will feel or how we will act. Removing always and never from your vocabulary will take pressure off of the future and open you up to being more present in the moment — all keys to managing stress and finding more happiness and joy.

But: This is a tricky one. For all of you writers out there you know that using the word “but” discredits the previous statement made. For example: “I want to reduce my stress by practicing yoga, but I don’t have the time.” Did you notice what happened there? The statement identified what needed to be done to make a change and the use of “but” completely killed it. “I want to be in love, but who will love me?” Drop the word “BUT” — try using “AND” instead and watch what happens: “I want to be in love and I will find someone who loves me.” You just changed one simple word and may have just changed your whole life.


Can’t: My arch nemesis of words.  My friend, a yoga instructor, says she does not like the word “can’t” and will jokingly reply to that response in her class, with “yet!” There are countless things you are all unable to do, yet. There is nothing you cannot do — well unless you believe that to be true.

I used to say to myself that this can’t be my path, but recently I have begun working on removing the 10 simple words from my vocabulary and realized that I am doing exactly what I want to be doing because I chose to. Are you willing to make the same choice too?  If yes, then pick a word and for one week try this:

Instead of saying “I can’t,” train your brain instead to turn this negative statement into a positive question. Instead of "I can’t," ask "How can I?" It is a subtle change, but a powerful one. If you can eliminate this one simple phrase from your life and replace it with this question, your whole life can change.

You can do anything you put your mind and your words to.

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