As a little backstory, before I started this blog, I completed a degree in communications. I fell in love with public speaking, and made my concentration on rhetoric and speech writing. I was enamored with the power of words — if anyone knows me, they’ll know how I keep a journal of words I love.
Words are impactful. There’s some that have been said to me back when I was in high school that I allowed to largely shape and affect me. I don’t think we recognize how much power we give to words — whether we are saying it to someone else or ourselves. A few years ago, I started recognizing which words I would repeat the most, and of those, which ones had the most negative impact. I was at a point in my first business where I felt stagnant and unable to grow. I was frustrated, incredibly jealous of other’s growth, and harsh with myself — feelings I constantly wrestle with still to this day.
As I started to notice the words I would use, I recognized how much I heard them amongst my friends and inner-circle. These words kept popping up and, as I heard them more and more, my eyes opened to how much they were halting my personal growth and affirming negative growth. So as I started to key in on these, I set out to “obliviate” (Harry Potter reference, also known as obliterate ) these words from my vocabulary.
So here they are, 7 words I removed from my vocabulary to challenge personal growth.
Adjective | \ ‘je-ləs/
Definition: feeling or showing envy of someone or their achievements and advantages.
This was the number one word for me and I can’t tell you how many times I hear it — from both a casual and serious place of heart. I hear it constantly and when I do, I cringe. I know the feeling and often have feelings of jealousy, but I don’t want to give it a voice or power over my life. I would rather give a voice to a feeling of being happy for someone else’s achievements or giving a voice of congratulations. I found how personally degrading and at best, how I couldn’t be content with what I have or done, when I said the word “jealous.” It’s not that we can’t have the feeling, but I really believe that what we give a voice to, we also give power to over our lives. I think we are much better people when we live from a place of contentment than jealousy.
Adverb | \ jəst/
Definition: Exactly. Barely. Simply. No more than.
Okay this one may be a bit harder to explain, so I’ll give an example: Have you ever found yourself explaining something or trying to give reason to a decision, and you find the other person not understanding or unhappy so you have to downplay it by saying…”it was just [blank].” That little word “just” is what I’ve come to call a down-player. I used this “down player” when I needed to justify something or someone (myself) and found that instead what I was doing, was not speaking my truth. How easy it is to not say something in its full power and to down play it in order to make everyone happy. This word is one I constantly have to work on. I find I even write in emails and the minute I spot it, I delete and figure out how else can I say what I need to say. I am not “just” [insert whatever word].
Conjunction | \ bət /
Definition: Used to introduce something contrasting with what has already been mentioned.
I had a little chuckle when I copied the definition above because it’s exactly what’s wrong with using the word “but” in the conjunction sense. Have you found that you shared something and then immediately contradict it to keep the peace or perhaps conform? Guilty!
“We are busy tomorrow night, but I’m sure we can make something work.” Well which is it? Are we busy or are we going to make something work? I find that when I use the word “but”, it means once again I’m not speaking my personal truth and contradicting myself. When I think about personal growth, I lean into speaking my truth so I can affirm who I am, not contradict it.
Verb | \Sho͝od /
Definition: Used to express obligation, propriety, or expediency.
Shame is powerful. If you ever heard one of Brené Brown’s talks or read her book Daring Greatly, she talks a lot about shame and how it is different from guilt. Here’s what she says:
“Shame is a focus on self, guilt is a focus on behavior. Shame is, “I am bad.” Guilt is, “I did something bad.” How many of you, if you did something that was hurtful to me, would be willing to say, “I’m sorry. I made a mistake?” How many of you would be willing to say that? Guilt: I’m sorry. I made a mistake. Shame: I’m sorry. I am a mistake.”
Shame can have so much power over our lives, and when I say the word “should” it’s often out of a place of shame. “I should exercise more.” “I should work less.” “I should…and so on.” Removing shame from our lives is so crucial to growing as an individual. It stunts creativity and can cause us to feel stuck. This is one word I want to eradicate completely — either do the task or don’t, and feel completely okay with whichever you decide, removing yourself of shame.
Adjective | \ ˈbizē /
Definition: Full or or characterize by activity, i.e. a busy life.
I choose my calendar. I agree to everything I show up to. So why do I say “busy” when someone asks me how I’ve been or what’s going on? When I speak the word “busy”, I often have feelings that I am wildly out of control and a victim. I also think it’s a great way to bypass on sharing what we really feel, but that’s an entirely different conversation. The word “busy” sounds like we have no control but the truth is we decide every single day what we are going to do. I decided to take 6 meetings on Tuesday and come home exhausted. I decided to book back to back trips, to take on this and that. We grow more as individuals when we operate not as a victim but as a victor.
Contraction | \ kant /
Definition: Contraction of the words can and not, meaning incapable.
Why set limits for ourselves? The word “can’t” does exactly that. When we say it, we’re essentially agreeing that we don’t have the skillset or ability to grow in a new arena. I think it really comes from a fear of failure, or the lack of wanting to test how much we can grow. Whereas the word “won’t” shows a feeling of action, that you’re willing to set boundaries. How you choose to shape your own reality is vital to growing. If I’m constantly saying “I can’t” then how will I ever move pass my own fears?
I want to share one valuable lesson I learned from a friend early on in my career. I was dabbling in social media management and was proposed to take on a high-paying client in a field I knew nothing about. I was sharing with my friend that I was considering not taking the job because I felt inadequate and that I couldn’t do the job. He told me, “if someone is willing to pay you to do something, figure it out. That’s what entrepreneurship is all about — you figure it out, you teach yourself, and you grow.” I took the job and the growth was painful at first. After a few months, though, I felt invincible — I had taught myself the industry and was doing my job with confidence. I think about this lesson whenever a client asks me to do something I may feel uncomfortable with and I still reflect on that moment in my career today.
Verb | \ trahy /
Definition: to attempt to do something.
Commitment. It’s the number one word I often hear when it comes to personal growth and success. The person was committed to growing their craft as an artist. They were committed. So what’s wrong with the word “try?”
I remember one month I said I was going to try to eat more healthy. Four days in, I broke. I never committed because I was going to “try.” The word “try” tells ourselves that it’s okay if we don’t do it. It’s essentially a permission slip for not showing up. Be a person of your word, commit to your goals, and find that we can be so much more empowered when we do what we say we will do.
I’m not perfect and these are all words I have to remind myself daily to remove. Personal growth is a long journey and not an overnight success story. It’s painful, it’s eye-opening, and at the end of the day, it’s a rewarding pursuit. I hope to encourage those of you who are reading this that you have the power and ability to grow. That, be it a small hurdle or a bigger dream, you are empowered to go out in confidence and pursue it.
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