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Toxic Vocabulary You Must Avoid!

by Hashim Adil Share via -

I remember my coach teaching me the power of language when I was in NLP Practitioner Program. Not only did my coach understand that specific words affect our mental pictures, but he understood words are a powerful programming factor in lifelong success.

Here is a very easy demonstration to teach yourself and your friends the power of a toxic vocabulary. Ask them to hold a pen or pencil. Hand it to them. Now, follow my instructions carefully.

Say to them, 'Okay, try to drop the pencil.' Observe what they do.

Most people release their hands and watch the pencil hit the floor. You respond, 'You weren't paying attention. I said TRY to drop the pencil. Now please do it again.'

Most people then pick up the pencil and pretend to be in excruciating pain while their hand tries but fails to drop the pencil. The point is made. If you tell your brain you will 'give it a try,' you are actually telling your brain to fail. I have a 'no try' rule in my house and with everyone that I interact. Either people will do it or they won't.

Either they will be at the party or they won't. I'm brutal when people attempt to lie to me by using the word 'try.' Do they think I don't know they are really telegraphing to the world they have no intention of doing it, but they want me to give them brownie points for false effort? You will never hear the words 'I'll try' come out of my mouth unless I'm teaching this concept in a seminar.

If you 'try' and do something, your unconscious mind has permission not to succeed.

If I truly can't make a decision, I will tell the truth. 'Sorry, I'm not sure if I will be at your party. I have an outstanding commitment. If that falls through, I will be there. Otherwise, I will not. Thanks for the invite.' People respect honesty. So remove the word 'try' from your vocabulary. My coach also taught me that psychologists claim it takes seventeen positive statements to offset one negative statement. I have no idea if it is true, but the logic holds true. It may take up to seventeen compliments to offset the emotional damage of one harsh criticism. These are concepts that are especially useful when raising children.

Ask yourself how many compliments you give yourself daily versus how many criticisms. Heck, I know you are talking to yourself all day long. We all have internal voices that give us direction. So, are you giving yourself the 17:1 ratio or are you shortchanging yourself with toxic self-talk like, 'I suck. I'm fat. Nobody will like me. I'll try this diet. I'm not good enough. I'm so stupid. I'm broke, etc.

If our parents can set a lifetime of programming with one wrong statement, imagine the kind of programming you are doing on a daily basis with your own internal dialogue. 

Here is a list of Toxic Vocabulary words. Notice when you or other people use them.





  Would have


 Could have


  Should have

* But - negates any words that are stated before it

* If - presupposes that you may not

* Would have - past tense that draws attention to things that didn't actually happen.

* Should have - past tense that draws attention to things that didn't actually happen (implies guilt)

* Could have - past tense that draws attention to things that didn't actually happen, but the person tries to take credit as if it did happen

* Try - presupposes failure.

* Might - It does nothing definite. It leaves options for your listener

* Can't / Don't - These words force the listener to focus on exactly the opposite of what you want. This mistake parents and coaches make without knowing the damage of this linguistic error.


Toxic phrase:
'Don't drop the ball!' Likely result: Drops the ball

Better language:
'Catch the ball!'

Toxic phrase:
'You shouldn't watch so much television.' Likely result: Watches more television.

Better language:
'I read that too much television makes people stupid. You may find yourself turning that TV off and picking up one of those books more often!'

Take a moment to write down all the phrases you use on a daily basis or any toxic self-talk that you have noticed yourself using. Write these phrases down so you will begin to catch yourself as they occur and change them.

 Toxic Phrase




Do share comments after doing the exercise. 

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