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Toxic Vocabulary You can't visualize not doing remove the word 'try' from your

something. The only way to properly vocabulary. My dad also taught me


I remember my dad teaching me the visualize NOT doing something is to that psychologists claim it takes
power of language at a very young actually find a word for what you seventeen positive statements to
age. Not only did my dad want to do and visualize that. For offset one negative statement. I
understand that specific words example, when I was thirteen years have no idea if it is true, but the
affect our mental pictures, but he old, I played for my junior high logic holds true. It may take up to
understood words are a powerful school football team. I tried so hard seventeen compliments to offset the
programming factor in lifelong to be good, but I just couldn't get it emotional damage of one harsh
success. together at that age. I remember criticism. These are concepts that
One particularly interesting event hearing the words run through my are especially useful when raising
occurred when I was eight. As a kid, head as I was running out for a pass, children.
I was always climbing trees, poles, 'Don't drop it!' Naturally, I dropped
the ball. Ask yourself how many compliments
and literally hanging around upside you give yourself daily versus how
down from the rafters of our lake My coaches were not skilled enough many criticisms. Heck, I know you
house. So, it came to no surprise for to teach us proper 'self-talk.' They are talking to yourself all day long.
my dad to find me at the top of a just thought some kids could catch We all have internal voices that give
30-foot tree swinging back and and others couldn't. I'll never make us direction. So, are you giving
forth. My little eight-year-old brain it pro, but I'm now a pretty good yourself the 17:1 ratio or are you
didn't realize the tree could break or Sunday afternoon football player, shortchanging yourself with toxic
I could get hurt. I just thought it was because all my internal dialogue is self-talk like, 'I suck. I'm fat. Nobody
fun to be up so high. My older positive and encourages me to win. I will like me. I'll try this diet. I'm not
cousin, Tammy, was also in the tree. wish my dad had coached me good enough. I'm so stupid. I'm
She was hanging on the first big playing football instead of just broke, etc.
limb, about ten feet below me. climbing trees. I may have had a
Tammy's mother noticed us at the longer football career. If our parents can set a lifetime of
exact same time as my father. programming with one wrong
About that time, a huge gust of wind Here is a very easy demonstration statement, imagine the kind of
came over the tree. to teach your kids and your friends programming you are doing on a
the power of a toxic vocabulary. Ask daily basis with your own internal
I heard the leaves start to rattle and them to hold a pen or pencil. Hand it dialogue.
the tree began to sway. I remember to them. Now, follow my instructions
my dad's voice over the wind yell, carefully. Here is a list of Toxic Vocabulary
'Bart, hold on tightly.' So I did. The words. Notice when you or other
next thing I knew, I heard Tammy Say to them, 'Okay, try to drop the people use them.
screaming at the top of her lungs, pencil.' Observe what they do.
laying flat on the ground.
Most people release their hands and
She had fallen out of the tree. watch the pencil hit the floor. You But Try If
respond, 'You weren't paying
I scampered down the tree to safety. attention. I said TRY to drop the
My dad later told me why she fell Might Would Don't
pencil. Now please do it again.' have
and I did not.
Most people then pick up the pencil
Apparently, Tammy's mother was and pretend to be in excruciating
not as astute as my father. When Could Can’t Should
pain while their hand tries but fails have have
Tammy's mother felt the gust of to drop the pencil. The point is
wind, she yelled out, 'Tammy, don't made. If you tell your brain you will
fall!' 'give it a try,' you are actually telling
And Tammy did... fall. your brain to fail. I have a 'no try'
rule in my house and with everyone
My dad then explained to me that that I interact. Either people will do
the mind has a very difficult time it or they won't.
processing a negative image. In fact,
people who rely on internal pictures Either they will be at the party or * But - negates any words that are
cannot see negative at all. In order they won't. I'm brutal when people
stated before it
for Tammy to process the command attempt to lie to me by using the
of not falling, her nine-year-old brain word 'try.' Do they think I don't know * If - presupposes that you may not
had to first imagine falling, then try they are really telegraphing to the
to tell the brain not to do what it just world they have no intention of * Would have - past tense that
imagined. doing it, but they want me to give draws attention to things that didn't
them brownie points for false effort? actually happen.
Whereas, my eight-year-old brain You will never hear the words 'I'll try'
instantly had an internal image of * Should have - past tense that
come out of my mouth unless I'm draws attention to things that didn't
me hanging on tightly. This is why teaching this concept in a seminar.
people who try to stop smoking actually happen (implies guilt)
struggle with the act of quitting If you 'try' and do something, your * Could have - past tense that
smoking. They are running pictures unconscious mind has permission draws attention to things that didn't
all day of themselves smoking. not to succeed. actually happen, but the person tries
Smokers are rarely taught to see If I truly can't make a decision, I will to take credit as if it did happen
themselves breathing fresh air and tell the truth. 'Sorry, John. I'm not
feeling great. The language itself * Try - presupposes failure.
sure if I will be at your party. I have
becomes one barrier to success. an outstanding commitment. If that * Might - It does nothing definite. It
This concept is especially useful falls through, I will be there. leaves options for your listener
when you are attempting to break a Otherwise, I will not. Thanks for the * Can't / Don't - These words force
habit or set a goal. invite.' People respect honesty. So
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.
Examples:
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!'
Exercise:
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

Re-written