Language is powerful. When we put words to our thoughts, that gives them more energy. It reinforces your beliefs, for better or for worse. A lot of people speak without any thought--I used to be one of those people who had zero filter (just ask my parents).
I eventually developed a filter first to fit in with those around me, and then more recently, to turn my flawed belief system around.
Did you know that there are words and phrases you probably say every freakin’ day, that are keeping your wallet empty, your to-do list unfinished, and your happiness out of reach? You might think “they’re just words, they don’t mean anything”, but that’s not true and deep down, you know it. When we say something, it’s usually because on some level, we really believe it.
We all go around saying these things, and on the surface, they appear to be the truth. But what if they’re only true because you keep on saying it? What would happen if you were to simply stop saying these words, and replace them with more empowering words?
I’ll tell you what would happen. With practice, you’d gain incredible self-awareness, which is one of the key factors in success (no matter what your definition of it happens to be). You’d gradually re-wire the limiting beliefs in your subconscious that have been holding you back. And as mentioned in my blog post about limiting beliefs, your patterns can be changed when you interrupt the thought, and replace it with another one.
The world around you is nothing more than a reflection of your beliefs. Change your beliefs, and you’ll see the world around you change. But you have to be willing to change your beliefs before you see the physical evidence--which requires unshakeable faith.
So what do your words reveal about your beliefs? And if you’re in the habit of saying these things, what can you say instead?
Let’s start with one of the toughest ones to break. The reason why this one is so tough, is because it can seem so damn true. Maybe your bank account is literally empty. Maybe your credit cards are maxed out. And believe me, I get that. I’m not going to argue that point.
But since I assume you’re reading this because you want to change that fact, let’s talk about how you can change this belief.
Saying that you can’t afford something cuts you off at the knees. It’s so disempowering. It’s giving away control of your life. It’s saying that you can’t have the things you want. Holy depressing, right?
So what if you replaced “I can’t afford that” with “That’s not my priority right now”? Because chances are, it’s the truth. There’s a good chance that you actually receive at least hundreds or thousands a month. But when it comes to buying a $15 book, you might say “I can’t afford that”. And the more you’re in the habit of saying it, the more you will attract and create situations where you can’t afford the thing you want.
Technically, you probably can afford that $15 book, it’s just that you have more important things to pay for--like shelter and food.
By saying “That’s not my priority right now”, you’re being honest with yourself. It gives you your power back. You’re saying “I could buy this, but I’m choosing not to”.
For the same reasons “I can’t afford that” is harmful to your wealth mentality, “I don’t have time” is harmful to your stress level. And the same principle applies--we all have the same 24 hours in a day. It’s all about your priorities.
If someone asks you to do them something you don’t really want to do, then “I don’t have time” feels like an easy out. But the more you say it, the more you believe it--which leads to creating those situations where you feel the time crunch. That "lack" mentality coming in and making you feel like you're under the gun, but it doesn't have to be like that.
When someone makes a demand on your time that you don’t want to commit to, you can just say “no”. No is a complete sentence. I understand if that feels too dry, and you might fear looking like a bitch if you say no (that’s something else for you to work on, if that’s the case!). But you are allowed to say no. You can also say “that’s not the best use of my time”.
Keep these in mind when you’re talking to yourself, too. If you’re looking at your to-do list, thinking “no way do I have time for all this”, then determine what DO you have time for. What WOULD be the best use of your time?
You might initially wonder how this is different from “I can’t afford it”. I did want to put it here separately, though, because "I can't afford it" is a judgement on YOUR finances, while "that's too expensive" is often a judgement on someone or something’s worth. And when you make those kind of judgements, it creates stories. Especially when you think of people who you consider to be “ripoffs” simply because they charge more than you would be willing to pay.
Because let’s be clear--their worth isn’t contingent on your opinion. The reason why this is so important, is because when you judge other people’s prices, it only makes you fear charging what you’re worth. You created subconscious beliefs around other people charging what they’re worth, and it’s going to come back to bite you in the ass, if it hasn’t already. You’ll be freaked out at the idea of charging thousands of dollars for a coaching package, or hundreds of dollars for a couple hours of work that comes easily to you.
I’m going to challenge you to take responsibility for your opinion of their price, and say “that’s more than I’m willing to spend at this time”, or “It's not the right investment for me at this time”. This way, you’re placing the issue squarely where it belongs--on you. There’s no blaming anyone else for “daring” to charge more than you’re willing to pay, and it makes you feel better about owning your worth as well.
If pricing your products or services has been a sticking point for you, then I invite you to be doubly aware of your language and beliefs around this.
I put these two words in the same group, because they’re on this list for the same reason: they are blanket statements, and usually not true.
When you speak in absolutes, you’re reinforcing a belief that something is the way it is 100% of the time. And #sorrynotsorry, I’m not buying that. Saying things like “I never have time to do things I want”, or “I always have to re-do my assistant’s work” is bullshit. Because are you really saying that 100% of the time, you literally have to re-do your assistant’s work? (if so, you need a new assistant). Are you saying that 100% of your time is filled with things you can’t stand doing?
What I think what you mean to say is “I rarely/sometimes get to do the things I want”, or “I often/occasionally/usually have to re-do my assistant’s work”. By just opening up the possibility a teeny-tiny bit that it’s not absolute, you’re on your way to changing the scenario. You might find that you eventually get to a place where you usually get to do the things you want, and you rarely have to re-do your assistant’s work.
One other thing though: if you use these words to reinforce a positive belief, it can be very powerful. Such as, “I always receive money exactly when I need it”, or “I never have to worry about finding clients”, then that’s cool. I’m really mainly referring to the negative use of these words.
This one’s trickier, because chances are, when you use it, you think you’re being positive. But in reality, you’re still not convinced that the thing you’re hoping for will actually come true.
“I hope my flight doesn’t get delayed”, or “I hope I’ll be able to pay rent this month” denotes a lack of belief. It’s based on worry and fear that it won’t come true. And when you place yourself in a worry and fear mindset, that thing you’re worrying about (a delayed flight or not being able to pay rent) is much more likely to come happen.
Saying “I believe”, “I know”, or “I will” is much more empowering. Remember how I said your reality is a reflection of your beliefs? Stating “I believe my flight will leave on time” and “I will pay rent early this month” is giving energy to some much more empowering beliefs where you’re not a victim of your circumstances.
Stop “shoulding” all over yourself. When you say you “should” or “shouldn’t” be doing something, it’s because you’re feeling guilty, or not meeting someone’s expectations. And really, whose expectations are you trying to meet? When you stop and think about it, chances are, those expectations aren't even yours.
The problem with “should” (and guilt in general) is that you end up not being present where you are. If you’re working but you “should” be playing with your kids, then you’re physically in front of your computer, but you’re not focused.
Or if you’re watching Netflix but you “should” be writing a blog post, then you’re not even fully enjoying your downtime--it’s laced with guilt.
So whatever you’re doing, just own it. Guilt accomplishes nothing. What do you gain by feeling guilty? Guilt is only good for making sure you don’t enjoy the current moment. When you feel guilty, it’s because on some level, you don’t feel like you deserve to enjoy the moment.
Try “I am” or “I’m not” on for size. Instead of saying “I should be working on my business”, just own the fact that you’re not. “I’m not working on my business because I’m enjoying the evening with my husband”. That is your priority at the moment. Just be honest with yourself. And when you let yourself enjoy the present moment, you’ll find that it’s that much easier to get back to work next time you’re in front of the computer.
(I’m sure this goes without saying, but just in case: obviously, if you want to succeed in your business, it does have to be your priority some of the time. So schedule that shit in the calendar, and be present to it when you’re working. The rest of the time, just enjoy where you are without worrying about your business--it’ll be there when you open up the laptop again!)
When exactly did “I’m so busy” become the new “I’m fine, how are you”? At some point in time, we seem to have decided that it’s not good enough to say that we’re fine. We need to show the world we’re out there earning our keep. And we do that by wearing the “busy badge of honour”.
Recently, my dad asked if my business was keeping me busy. I said “no, it’s not.” He might have taken that to mean that it’s not going well, but that’s not at all what I was saying. I was simply saying it wasn’t keeping me busy, which is true. I work, on average, about 25-30 hours a week. I don’t feel busy. My business is certainly successful, but it’s pretty easy and flowy for the most part. A few years ago, saying that my business wasn’t keeping me busy would have felt like I was admitting that I was failing. Oh, how times have changed.
Why not try saying, “Things are great, business is booming!”, or “I’m making lots of progress”, or even “I’m making more money”? At first, it will feel weird--but keep the “B” word out of it. If you do actually feel really busy, you’re only perpetuating it each time you say that you are. You can even try re-wiring a belief like “everything that needs to get done always gets done on time” into your brain. Imagine what it would be like to live without the constant panic in the background of everything you do!
This one snuck up on you, right? Why on Earth would this word be considered negative? Here’s why: because when you say things like “I earned this,” you’re implying that you weren’t inherently deserving. When you tell someone you’re taking a vacation, and they say “Good for you! You’ve earned it!”, what they’re really saying is “you’ve worked sufficiently hard, now you can be allowed to rest”.
But you deserve a vacation anytime you want. You don’t need to “prove” to anyone or the universe that you’re worthy of a million dollars. You don’t need to “earn” a break, a relationship, or financial abundance. You’re a human being, and you’re already worthy.
If you find yourself pushing against this, thinking “no, you have to earn your money. You can’t just go from nothing to having everything in one day”. And you’d be right, that most people can’t--not because they are incapable or aren’t deserving, but because they simply don’t have the capacity to receive that much at once. People go from broke to millions in a heartbeat all the time (the lottery, for example). People go from obscure to famous in a New York Minute every day (look at the Youtube stars that end up on Ellen). That’s the world we live in--it’s actually possible. The reason it so often crashes and burns is because their capacity to receive didn’t expand as quickly as necessary, and they sabotage themselves to get back down to where they’re “comfortable”. “The Big Leap” by Gay Hendricks is a great book to learn more about this phenomenon.
Check out my post, “Why Success Freaks You Out” for more about this.
What if you started saying, “I received”, as in “I received _____ dollars last month”? I’ve adopted this, and to be honest, it feels a lot better. Not only that, it doesn’t discriminate the source of the money I’ve received. I count EVERYTHING. Sure, most of the money coming in is from my business, but I also count cash gifts, tax return cheques, and money I find in the street. I literally count every penny that comes my way (not in my accounting books, just as a way of tracking the abundance that comes to me). By saying “received” instead, you open yourself up to receive money from anywhere--not just money you’ve “earned” through your own work. It’s recognition that money is everywhere, and you can receive it from a multitude of sources that you’ve never even thought of.
The bottom line is, your words have real power. And with great power, comes great responsibility. Start practicing by catching yourself when you use these words, and saying “no, actually I meant _______” and replace the sentence with something more positive. The more you do this, the more you’ll find it comes automatically. Soon, you’ll find that it feels weird to even say any of these words.