The words you use affect how you feel. Zest’s psychologist, Emma Kenny, rounds up the five most life-limiting expressions to ditch from your dictionary today
YOU SAY: “later”
WHY? We tell ourselves that we’ll do something later when we either don’t want to do it at all or we’re too overwhelmed by the thought of it. It’s unproductive and makes us feel bad for procrastinating.
INSTEAD: Get the most dreaded task on your to-do list over with immediately or sit down now and plan what you need to do in order to tick it off. You’re never going to conveniently find yourself with two free hours to clear out your wardrobe and finally take those bootcut jeans to the charity shop, but recognising that it needs decent diary space is far more practical than simply muttering ‘later’.
YOU SAY: “should”
WHY? ‘Should’ is such a loaded word. You are telling yourself: ‘If I was good/organised/fun/caring (select as appropriate), I would do this,’ which makes you feel guilty.
INSTEAD: Whenever you want to say ‘should’, swap it for the far more positive ‘will’, as in: ‘Will this benefit me and the people I care about?’ It’s an instantly less emotional question, so you can decide if you ‘should’ do it or not, but without the guilt.
YOU SAY: “naughty”
WHY? Using this word in relation to food can damage your self-esteem. Food is fuel, not an enemy, friend or emotional prop. If your body says, ‘I fancy a cake,’ and you are hungry, have cake!
INSTEAD: Think about it - do you want cake every time you feel down, stressed or angry? If so, recognise that you’re filling an emotional space with an edible substitute and deal with that, rather than masking it.
YOU SAY: “wish”
Why? Hoping that you can magically transform into your ideal self – one who is slimmer, or has the perfect career – is a fairy tale.
INSTEAD: Rather than ‘wishing’, set yourself some goals to get fitter or find a new role. Applying a more targeted approach to your aspirations means you can start to achieve them. Every time you ‘wish’, remember you can make that dream a reality by becoming an active participant in your life, rather than a bewildered bystander.
YOU SAY: “can’t”
Why? The word ‘can’t’ tells your brain you’re incapable of doing something successfully, so, even if you have a go, your mindset wills you to fail because you’ve programmed yourself to do so. Eliminating ‘can’t’ makes it easier to take risks, so, even if things don’t work out exactly as you’d hoped, you tried – and that gives you confidence to try other things. It also forges resilience which helps you feel safe and happy.
INSTEAD: Decide if it’s really a case of you physically being unable to do it or just a nifty way to excuse yourself from something you don’t fancy. When you say you ‘can’t’ run a half-marathon, OK you can’t do it right now without any training, but are you really physically incapable of putting in the hours or do you just not want to?
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