Top 5 Words to Delete from Your Vocabulary


In this article we explore how language and self talk impact our ability to motivate ourselves, achieve at high levels and live the life we deserve. We also look at 5 popular dis-empowering words and phrases and replace them with empowering words and phrases to support motivation, success, love, gratitude and achievement.
Let’s get straight to it.
Our actions create our life… Agree? Our thoughts create our actions…. Agree? Our thoughts are communicated to us in the form of language…. Agree? So…how can we live our largest, most expressive and most loving life if we are using vocabulary that makes us smaller, weaker and discouraged.
Do you know anybody, maybe even yourself, who loves to use phrases like: “This only happens to me”, “Life’s a b*tch“, “I caaaaaaaaan’t!”, “Never!”, “I just can’t win”, “I’m damned if I do and damned if I don’t”.
The biggest problem with these phrases is not that they are negative or self centered, it’s that they stop you from taking action. Phrases like this paralyze us and fool us into thinking that we have no power and no choice. Which is nonsense.
What if our words always made us and who ever we are talking to feel inspired, empowered and re-energized?
I’ve created a list of some of the top five words and phrases you might want to delete from your vocabulary. I also included some replacements!
1. I can’t
You’re right! If you say you can’t, it’s over. Just that simple. The door is closed and locked. However, maybe you’re right. Maybe at this moment you can’t run 3 miles at once, maybe you can’t complete the project in 3 hours, maybe you can’t immediately forgive someone. With that said, you must learn to. I must learn, I will learn, I’m preparing myself a much more empowering phrase that will propel you to take action, take risks and grow.
2. Failure
There is no failure, only feedback – only results. You might not get the results you want, but don’t confuse that with failure. And, please don’t ever confuse yourself with your results. You are never a failure but you are always learning. I’m learning, is a much more empowering phrases that let’s you know you are aware of the current results and also shows that you are invested in figuring out a way to get the desired outcome. Learning produces growth, while believing in failure produces hopelessness and stress.
3. I’m overwhelmed
Give yourself more credit! You are stronger and more durable than you think. You are not overwhelmedyou are in high demand! Doesn’t that feel so much better. Your self, school, family, boss, business and friends all need a lot from you because you have so much to give – give it.  Being in high demand develops character and also helps you learn to prioritize. You might be challenged, you might be put to the test, you might be busy, but you are way too strong to be overwhelmed!
4. But
Stop. Stop! Stop! Please stop building a case against yourself. Stop rationalizing your excuses, procrastination or lack of productivity. “I want to do this but…” “I have always wanted to_________ but…” Stop making it so easy to talk yourself out of action. If you didn’t do something you said you would, or didn’t do something that you wanted to – own it, adjust, and move on. Don’t make excuses or rationales with the word ‘but’ because as we know, when we tell ourselves  the same thing over and over again…we start to believe it. Don’t talk yourself out of your highest life.
5. I hate
Hate – a negative emotions that distorts judgement, tenses muscles, shortens breathing and puts us in a weak state of mind.  Let’s not overreact and let’s focus on the positive. Why HATE peanuts, liars and traffic when we can prefer almonds, honesty and freedom. I prefer, is clear way of saying what you like, dislike and expect. I prefer is also empowering and will always lead the conversation or experience in a positive direction.
Take control of your words, thoughts, actions and life!
“The limits of my language means the limits of my world.”
― Ludwig Wittgenstein
What words do you want to delete from your vocabulary?
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235 responses to “Top 5 Words to Delete from Your Vocabulary

  1. “But” and “Well” are both in my pet peeve boat. anything that follows is usually an excuse for why something that should have been done wasn’t.

  2. Pingback: Top 5 Words to Delete from Your Vocabulary | A ship to cross the sea of suffering·

  3. I have noticed that “but” erases everything that comes before…”I’d love to ______, but…” Thank you for such an honest and insightful post. Words to live by…

  4. Pingback: April 20 Daily Prompt: Companionable | Nadeen's Corner·

  5. I love this post — it’s similar to what I’ve been talking about on my blog. We make our own luck. My least favorite self-defeating phrase: “f*** my life” — it seems to be gaining in popularity among teens and 20 somethings….

  6. Oh yea! This is my kind of article. So many truths here. I also eliminate the words, should and must. He should, I must bla bla bla. Says WHO? Language powerful as the pen, more powerful than the sword yet so few people take advantage of it!
    Thanks for the follow. LOVE your blog!!!

  7. Wow – fantastic message. At risk of sounding like a conspiracy theorist, negative language can become a framework of control. Maybe that system is just self imposed negative feelings, maybe it’s something greater. The end result is that you stop yourself from connecting with others and growing.

    Building a foundation means that you build above where you currently stand.

  8. Reblogged this on ActiveEngine and commented:
    Just read a post that is a wake up call that alerts you to self imposed restriction. Hint: it’s in your language.

  9. Laughter! I tell you! You seem to be writing these post for me! Presently I am always saying I am “overwhelmed.” I never thought to think of my wonderful circumstance as being “in high demand.” Let’s just say I’m starting with the man in the mirror. Thank you for such a wonderful message and keep being you; because you are truly making a difference in the lives of others, and, I feel, that’s what life is all about. Making a difference!

  10. Love this, how about ‘TRY’….. how many times have you tried to do something implying you failed? Either do it or don’t do it, keep the self defeating words like try out of it. We are taught negative language patterns from such a young age and they stay in our mind as our self talk indefinitely (or until we challenge them and make them conscious) Great post thank you.

    • I was scrolling down to mention that “Try” needs to be added to this list! We are so concerned with deleting curse words that we forget what words are really damaging!

      Whats worse? If I say the word “Shit” or if I say I am going to “try” my best. I think the latter is way more damaging then the first. The first may cause 10 seconds of offense, but the latter instills a habit that failure is a possibility.

      Great post, and great comment!

      • i agree with you to a point but having a mentality to try things is better than saying ‘i can’t do it.’ I say can’t a lot so for me to say i will try something is a big step forward. but as i say i do sort of agree with you

  11. THIS IS GREAT! 🙂

    Only Those Who Understand The Value of Vocabulary Works, Will Have The Power To Change Everything .. Thank U 🙂

  12. Great blog! I especially like using “I prefer” instead of “I hate”….it offers a possible solution to whatever the problem is instead of just complaining…very positive!

  13. Thanks for stopping by my blog, Jeff. I’d like to hang these words on the inside of my glasses so I could see them all the time! Why is it so hard to remember to be your own best friend? Thanks for some inspiration.

    • Dear firstandfabulous, maybe by the time you’ve done a round of friends and several have let you down then you will be more unforgetful that you’r ur only true best friend and now thanks to social networking, we have lots of friends to inspire us! Cheers

  14. Pingback: Five Words to Delete from Your Vocabulary | lovely college girl·

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  16. This is fantastic! I immediately made a connection with your post. When I was 13 I lost my father to a sudden heart attack. The perspective that experience added to my life is unquestionably the reason I started Project Deeds.

    I immediately remembered as a teenager how I would become furious when I heard classmates and teammates say things like, ” My parents are idiots” or “F#$K MY LIFE”. These are phrases that I bring to a halt if I hear them. I call people out if I hear them say things like this.

    I have decided that I am going to add your 5 to my list. Thanks for the great post.

    Please check out Project Deeds if you get an opportunity.

  17. Pingback: Top 5 Words to Delete from Your Vocabulary | iheartcoaching·

  18. ABOUT FAILURE: If you have made mistakes, even serious ones, there is always another chance for you.

    What we call failure is not the falling down but the staying down.

  19. Reblogged this on 9jagirl4real and commented:
    Today, I said something and all of a sudden, I felt convicted maybe I shouldn’t have said what I said.
    For somebody like me. I love to laugh, joke; however, even when we joke around we still need to be careful of our words.

    Proverbs 18:21-“Death and Life are in the power of the tongue”

  20. The word I am working to eradicate from my vocabulary is “should.” My therapist calls it “the tyranny of the shoulds,” and my friend once told me that her therapist told her, “Don’t ‘should’ all over yourself.” I should have this, I should have that. Nope. I’m not playing that game anymore.

  21. Ruby thank you for expanding on this idea. Now the question is, “What words do we want to add to our new 2013 dictionary?”

  22. Reblogged this on Brooklyn Danielle and commented:
    I love this. I’ve noticed I really prefer people whose attitude towards life is much more positive. I’ve unfollowed so many twitter accounts because all they ever tweeted were the negative things in their life. In my opinion, someone is much more relatable if they present themselves in a positive way. If you’re going to post about something is going badly for you, put a positive spin on it (joke or moral of the story?) or don’t post it publicly. Those who don’t know you can’t easily connect to your problems, and they will lose interest.

    I completely agree with the comment that says the word “but”erases everything that comes before it (I tried my best, but…I’d love to, but…). It truly does turn everything into an excuse.

    Very informative post and a lot of really good insight within the comments as well! Thanks for posting.

  23. Thank you this is very challenging for me. I will try and take on board the phrase ‘I am learning’ instead of i’m a failure. I often feel i’m useless so i recon this will help me a lot.
    Thank you

  24. Thank you for following my blog and thank you for this post! Words are so very powerful and its very empowering to realize the impact one can have on their reality just by changing their words.

  25. That’s exactly what I keep telling my trainees. Very well said and I am very happy it isn’t only my point of view 🙂

  26. Thank you for your powerful words! I especially like the “I prefer”. It is so true, to say I hate something does give a negative side to our own thinking, but to say I prefer, that is an excellent alternative!

  27. Pingback: Phrases To Stop Using. | Redirecting Chaos·

  28. WOW! The power of words is amazing. I’ve noticed that a couple of loved ones have become increasingly negative over the past few years. I find myself wanting to avoid them. Then I noticed that I do the same thing. (No wonder I dislike that negativity so much! -Theirs added to mine is just too much for me to handle.) It’s another one of the characteristics I hope to change about myself by “making my own sunshine”, thus the blog name. 🙂 Please, keep the encouragement coming!

  29. Thank you for finding and following my blog. I’m just getting started as you can tell. (just a few days!) Hope you enjoy.

    Thank you as well for the reminder to stop using the words/phrases….it is easy to forget.

  30. What a truly breathe of fresh air !!
    My words are :

    You will never be
    But in the past i
    Its not possible
    Thats just not a reality now

    1st off you have an amazing way of writing to inspire so many people with such a simple post, So congratulations on that.

    2ndly i really appreciate you visiting my blog
    weather i have a gift for writting or not time will tell but thank you for being the wind in my sails

  31. Reblogged this on halariousgypsy and commented:
    An amaing inspiration man with a gift of lifting people up.
    An inspiring, hard to ignore, insightful and educational blog to follow

  32. Hey, great article and thanks for following TOTE : tips of the entrepreneur. I look forward to seeing your thoughts on my posts!

  33. As a lover of both literature and psychology, this post is up my alley. Words have a strong power, and people don’t know how much a self-fulfilling prophecy they can be. Adding some positive language and thoughts can do wonders! Anywho, great job, and thanks for following my blog 🙂

  34. Pingback: Words Create | Made4Marriage·

  35. Thank you for stopping by my blog, I’m so glad you did because what you write reinforces what I believe. There are no obstacles only opportunities. And whether you think you can or you can’t you are right! Best wishes! Namaste!

  36. wow… you out done yourself with this one. I am impressed. The Holy Spirit has guided you with great wisdom my brother. I am proud and I glad that you are saying this to all of us. Thank you!!!

  37. Great post! Very encouraging. As a writer, I should recognize this, and yet somehow I’m always putting myself down. My boyfriend is constantly telling me not to. The biggest one for me will be “I’m not overwhelmed, I’m in high demand.” (with 2 kids and being in college full time, who isn’t in high demand?)

    One thing that I do see as overlooked in this post is the power our words have on others. Part of my constantly putting myself down comes from being told I was a failure and constantly being put down by others, by people who mattered (my now ex, my parents, etc.). That takes a long time to get over.

  38. absolutely – words are sacred and powerful and carry an energy. i’ve deleted the word ‘should’ from my vocabulary. when i do use it, it feels very, very wrong. 🙂 great post!

  39. Pingback: Top 5 Words to Delete from Your Vocabulary | Heavenly Guidance·

  40. Great post! You are correct, these are words we need to get rid of. I will learn to replace these negatives with their positive counterpart. Thanks! Meanwhile, thanks also for following The Brass Rag. We’d love to hear your take on some of our topics. Come back and see us again soon.

  41. Thank you! Needed this today. Such powerful truths. Going to have to repost this!

  42. Pingback: Top 5 Words to Delete from Your Vocabulary | I Breathed Again·

  43. Love this one! Tickled at the fact that you gave positive words or phrases to replace the negative ones. Awesome motivator you are! The world thirsts for your gift, b/c so many people are being diagnosed with depression everyday! They want to be free of their depressive cycle but unsure how to do so! Keep them coming!

  44. Thanks for the message on the five words to delete from our vocabularly. Excellent! I’m thinking, “Fill the space between our ears with ‘Yes!’, and our lives will follow.”

    • GREAT CHOICE!!! It’s funny how we can do things we love off of little or no sleep, but when we sleep 6 -8 hours we struggle with things we have no passion for!

  45. Good stuff… partly because it brings us to the larger issue of “negativity” — something that is far too common in our lives. In my work with kids, I’m constantly striving to make sure we have more positive interactions than negative. Too often we are so focused on trying to “teach” kids how to “fit in” that we don’t appreciate their efforts to learn and achieve. I’m often outsmarted by five year olds and I think it’s pretty cool!

  46. I think the word “just” belongs here more than the word “hate.” Hate refers to an emotion, a very strong and powerful emotion. The word “just” is self sabotage when not used in reference to time. Like… ‘i just think we need to do this instead of that.’ Why belittle what you’re gonna say, what you’re feeling, what you really mean! Anyway, another great post Jeff. This is ‘just’ my 2cents. See what I mean? haha

  47. Love love love it!!! Honestly! Your blog is wonderful, you always have the most wonderful posts to share. You inspire. Thank you!!!!

  48. Reblogged this on Grins & Jade and commented:
    If you haven’t followed this blogger. Break from what you are doing and go to his blog and FOLLOW!! Pure inspiration!

  49. Pingback: Top 5 Words to Delete from Your Vocabulary | Marti Ink·

  50. Amazing…i’m overwhelmed…mind it in a positive sense I mean but great writing…so true…one should definitely keep such things in mind and I will try to 🙂

  51. My best move ever was to get rid of “have to,” replacing it with “get to.” I don’t have to go to the grocery; I get to. I don’t have to exercise; I get to. Another one I enforce in my classes is not saying “This is hard.” My students quickly learn to substitute “This is challenging.”
    Thanks for a great post and for visiting us.

  52. Pingback: Top 5 Words to Delete from Your Vocabulary | mercedrealestate·

  53. Thank you for visiting Always On The Run. Your advice is great, I will be following you too..Mac

  54. Hi Jeff,
    Thanks for taking the time to like a recent post of mine and deciding to follow my blog. I always appreciate when either or both of those things happen. 🙂

    And I like this post of yours, as well. Will have to use a link to it as one of the tips in a future post of mine. I would also add to your list the word “try”….to me it’s a little like the “but”…already hedging your bets and paving the way for the possibility of not doing what you’re saying you’re going to try to do.

    I would also lump “mistake” in there with “failure.” Will be glad when those two words and point of view start vanishing from our vocabularies and way of thinking. Often what on the surface may feel like, look like, or be judged as a mistake, ends up being something that catapults us forward or causes us to re-align ourselves and change and grow. If we were doing the best we could in the moment and it helped us learn what we’d do differently in the future, then is it really a mistake?

  55. Really great post! Here’s a really cool thing I read somewhere: While saying “I can’t”, do something very simple that you know you can do. For example, hold your breath for 10 seconds, or anything else you CAN do, for a very short time. Then, increase the time, maybe by another 10 seconds, all the while saying “I can’t _____”. It acts like “negative” therapy, and it tricks your brain. After a while, you realize that saying “I can’t” doesn’t really mean anything.

  56. Love it. Change starts in your own head! Thanks for stopping by my blog- so glad I stopped by yours!

  57. This is so powerful! can I reblog this and put your name as the author? From Andy Ng at Asia Trainers

  58. Reblogged this on dancinmoma and commented:
    It is amazing how certain words or thoughts can clutter your mind and weigh you down to a standstill. This piece reminds us to delete those words, so that doors will open!! Action creates possibility!! Remove the weights in YOUR life and you can “LEAP” to new heights!!

    • IndiaAlphaDavidOscarRogerEchoTangoHotelEchoNovemberAppleMikeOscarFoxtrotYahooOscarUniformRogerBravoLimaOscarGolf #justsaying #4therecord 😉

  59. I’ve decided to remove the phrase, “I’m not creative” from my vocabulary. The next time someone asks if I’m creative, I’m going to shout, “Yes” or “I’m working on it”!

  60. But is by far my favorite delete on the list. It is like the magic eraser of whatever precedes it. “I want to be successful in life, but…” It is all about approach. Like I have always heard in my life,”fake it til you make it.” If you believe something long enough, it will be yours. I decided one day that I was a writer…now I am. Now I am working on becoming a writer whose work gets read!

  61. Pingback: Top 5 Words to Delete from Your Vocabulary | Chronic Inspirations·

  62. When I say I can’t, I ask myself…why not. Failure means fear or I didn’t try. I’m overwhelmed means I didn’t take the time to plan or think it through. But means I have doubts or I’m about to over process things. I hate…well that just opposite love so I don’t entertain it. I might not like or even be disappointed with things or others but never hate. Hate is a misused word that drains you and can crush others. A word not easily erased, taken back or forgiven once it’s said. So, I don’t say it to others. Love in action – Love forgives!

  63. We always have the ability to eliminate negativity from our life. Its a pretty simple equation…thoughts create words,words create actions, actions create your reality. When you work to eliminate these words from your existence, you eliminate your limiting beliefs that stop you from achieving what you truly have the ability to do. Not only that, when you eliminate these ideas you create a space that can be filled with happiness and possibilities!

  64. Pingback: Top 5 Words to Delete from Your Vocabulary | Motivating For Positive Change·

  65. Thank you for following the Systemic Impacts Project! We we keep your poignant words in mine (and those five pesky ones out) as we work on getting this non-profit-hopeful up off the ground! Thanks, again!

  66. Great instruction. One of my favorite scriptures is Proverbs 18:21, “Words kill. Words give life. They are either poison or fruit – you choose.” MSG

  67. Hi! I stopped by for two reasons: 1) To say thank you for checking out my blog and 2) To see what you’re putting out there! I love the energy and positive vibes! Important message you’re putting out and I hope many people will take your message to heart!! Great job!! Thank you also for following me! Keep up the awesome work!

  68. This is great, loved it. I’m well aware of the power of thoughts and the language that forms them, but you caught me at overwhelm…I love your replacement, ‘in high demand’. Made me smile:-) Thanks for the like and the follow.

  69. Hmmmm. You clearly aren’t living my life LOL 😛 All this positive stuff is well and good, and I subscribe to it to a point, and (not “but” LOL) it doesn’t always work for everybody… #justsaying

  70. Pingback: The Value of Patience | Denver MS MENS Group·

  71. Thank you Jeff for sharing it this nicely with us
    personally I decided that any ‘buts’ I hear or even ever say again will simply be ignored and challenged by my records!

  72. Reblogged this on Tosin Adekanmbi Personal Development and commented:
    Words are powerful. Sometimes we say things and we don’t even know they are limiting us or stoping us from taking action that move us forward in life. In my personal development journey this week I promise myself I will make a conscious effort to check the words that I’m speaking over my life and into the things around me. I hope you do the same too.

    ………. It’s who you are that makes the DIFFERENCE ❤️

  73. Pingback: The Value of Patience | 70 / Four70 MS Men's Group·

  74. Excellent advice. Especially your response to the word “overwhelmed.” I used that word quite a bit … for years. Then I substituted “time challenged” and started to turn my attitudes around. I can deal with “time challenged” by making changes (priorities, delegating, etc.) … but how does a person deal with “overwhelmed”? Thanks for positive input.

  75. Pingback: The singles of TAM - Page 157·

  76. Great post! I started to do this a while ago and never have I been more creative and productive with my art than ever in my life. And thank you very much for stopping by my blog.

  77. Pingback: The Success Indicator | Everyday Power Blog·

  78. Pingback: Everyday Power’s Top 10 Blog Posts from 2013 | Everyday Power Blog·

  79. This is such a blessing for me seriously. I’m not nearly a negative person but some days I do feel challenged by the adversities that I face. And some days I feel in very high demand (these words are intentional ;=) but just by reading this blog post I am encouraged to focus on being selective with my wording for there is “death and life in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruits.”(Proverbs 18:21) I want to make sure I am always speaking life. Thank you so much for sharing this information. Everyday Power Blog is absolutely one of my top blog sites and I know that it going to be instrumental in me becoming a more prosperous person in every area of life as I apply the principles that you share. Continue the excellent work.


    • Latrice, thank you so much for sharing that! Yes I agree, we can actually speak life into so many things. The power we have is truly special and deserves to be cultivated, everyday! I am so happy you are getting so much from the blog – that is my goal and mission. Please stay in contact and let me know if there is any other way I can support! More power to you!
      All the best,

  80. Pingback: 5 Bob Marley Quotes to Live By! | Everyday Power Blog·

  81. Love this post and in particular what you say in relation to being overwhelmed – reminded me to say thank you so much for following and liking my blog “What I learned from Rudyard Kipling” – when these 6 things are in place – it can have a dramatic impact on reducing overwhelm – thank you ^Stefan #yourleadershipcounsel

  82. Pingback: 3 Steps Towards Personal Empowerment | Everyday Power Blog·

  83. Love this post! Reminds me of my linguistics degree and the ‘Sapir Whorf theory’ – language shapes the way we view the world. Often overlooked but it’s amazing how much lighter one feels when using positive language.
    And thanks for following my blog!

  84. negativity is what kills us
    positivity is where we need to head
    words are powerful they say
    your blog is a living proof to it i must say
    why didn’t i stumble upon it before i wonder
    this definitely needs to be shared in full thunder

  85. Reblogged this on and commented:
    Power article by Jeff Moore…this stuck with me.
    “The limits of my language means the limits of my world.”
    ― Ludwig Wittgenstein

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