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I Would Not Say Such Things If I Were You

There are some words that seem like they are important and motivating but often it’s a disguise. I avoid labeling things as good or bad in permanent terms. Despite the title I chose for this blog, I would not condemn the words we’ll talk about today as words we should never utter, rather these words can act as a signal, so to speak. They are awareness words that can cause us to pause and evaluate when we say them.


If you haven’t read my last blogpost titled, “The Language of Emotion,” it would serve you well to have that background before proceeding to this post. If you aren’t used to noticing how things make you feel when they are said, that blog post may be helpful.


Just: I find I use this word a lot, in writing as well as verbally. My all-time cringe sentence I hear (and I’ve said it!) is, “I’m just a mom.” Just often downplays something. It can be condescending and lack compassion. In some instances, we are using it to justify something (I was just teasing).


Should/shouldn’t, need to, have to, must. All of these can often feel like we have no choice in the matter or that our choice is tied to a moral right or wrong. Shame often accompanies should/shouldn’t. Noticed the resistance that may arise in your body when presented these words.  Let me ask you, when you or someone else says you should do something, how often do you want to do it? We often feel we are being forced, and even if we do it, there is often little “buy in” or enjoyment in the process. When these words are presented to me by others or myself, I like to make a slight adjustment. Replacing should with “could” brings up a whole different feeling in my body and I feel like I have a choice in the matter and that I’m not a “bad person” for whatever I decide to do. Let’s stop “should-ing” on ourselves. When confronted with need to, have to or must, simply take a moment and determine if we really do have to. We can then choose whether to leave it OR decide if we really want to do it? “I have to change the baby’s diaper.” Well, no, I technically don’t have to; I could just leave it. However, if I decide I don’t really want to leave it and want to have a happy baby, then I probably do want to change the diaper. Alternatives to these could be “want to,” “get to,” and “choose to.”


Never and always. These are great words for black-and-white or all-or-none thinking. When you use these words, take a minute and consider if it might be an exaggeration. If you want to take it to the next level, try to find a few instances when you (or the “guilty party”) has or hasn’t said or done what you just accused them of always or never saying or doing. Most of us just let these words roll off our tongue without thinking about the truthfulness of their use. Many times it’s because we are frustrated to some extent, and we don’t want to admit that the always or never are, more often than not, an exaggeration. Other words that are good friends with never and always include everything, nothing, everyone, no one.


The last words to reflect on are don’t (as in I don’t know) and can’t. When we think or say these words, it’s a signal to our brain that it doesn’t need to proceed in finding answers or solutions. It shuts the brain down. When I was in high school, my volleyball/basketball coach had us pay money every time we said the word, “can’t.” The money went towards our end of season banquet and many of us got proficient steering clear of the word… At least out loud 😉. Because of that, to this day the word, “can’t” makes me take pause, which indicates we can train ourselves to have awareness through these “trigger” words.


What about you? What words have you tagged for bringing awareness to your thought processes?


High Five!



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Feb 09

Another take on "just" exhibited in my life as a defensive word. When someone asked why I did or did not do something they expected me to, I found myself saying, "Well, I was just....." . When I realized that I was using it to frame my "defense", it was a long time before I could catch it before using it. That word creates a tightness within me to this day when I say it.


Feb 08

I find myself struggling to replace should/shouldn't, even though logically it makes sense that I could in many instances. I'll keep trying, though because I'm diverting from using can't as well. 😉

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