Words to Eliminate From Your Vocabulary in 2013 (Part I)

Posted December 30, 2012 by Melissa Foster in Features

The words that come out of your mouth are a direct reflection of how and what you think. You think a certain way, and the words come out accordingly.

There are some counterproductive — yet commonly used — words that are best eliminated from your vocabulary. These ugly words can produce guilt, frustration, powerlessness. Although subtle at times, these thoughts and feelings create a mental rut, sticking you with a perspective that works against you.

Yeah, this can be a hold up with the whole reach-your-goals-and-live-happy thing.

Giving attention to the words you choose to use can be key in keeping yourself in a mindset that serves you; allowing you to get in a groove that will lift you up and up and up. So, in this three-part series, I’m going to challenge you to eliminate certain words from your lexicon. I’ll also give you a suggested replacement word so that when you catch yourself using the “bad” word, you have an immediate substitute to plug in!

PLAY with this challenge. Keep it light hearted. And notice how your perspective begins to open up.

Here are the first two words to eliminate, and their replacements:



Should may quite possibly be THE most damaging word in the English language.

I agree with teacher and author Louise Hay – that anytime we use the word should, we are essentially saying “wrong.” Either we are wrong, we were wrong, we’re doing something wrong, or are going to be wrong.

Instead, the world “could” gives us choice. With “could,” we are never wrong. Could gives us the power back. Let me show you what I mean. Say the following sentences aloud and notice the totally different feeling you get from should vs. could:

I should be healthier. |vs.| I could be healthier.
I should have a clean home. |vs.| I could have a clean home.
I should stand up for myself. |vs.| I could stand up for myself.

Byron Katie, the author of Loving What Is, is a master at accepting reality.

She says that if you want reality to be different than what it is, you might as well try to teach a cat to bark. You can try and try, and in the end the cat will look up and say “Meow.” No thinking in the world can change what is.

Should argues with what is, causing inner frustration and tension. Could provides a choice to move in a direction, not stating and/or dwelling in the “wrongness” of a situation.



“Have to” is victim-esque.

To say that you “have to” puts you at the mercy of someone or something. You don’t HAVE TO do anything.

You don’t have to get married. You don’t have to change your underwear. You don’t have to go to work. You don’t have to own a cell phone. You don’t have to have a bank account. You don’t have to bathe. You don’t have to tip the waiter. You don’t have to have kids. You don’t have to go home for Christmas. You don’t have to use toilet paper.

You don’t even HAVE to breathe. You don’t have to, but you may CHOOSE TO. Sometimes we don’t feel like we have a choice. But we always do.

The job you have…you chose it. And you can choose to stay in it or go elsewhere.
The relationship you’re in…you’re choosing it.
You are choosing to live in the place that you do. You may not love it, but you are choosing it.

Let’s have a look at some have-to’s vs. choose-to’s:

I have to go to work. |vs.| I choose to go to work.
I have to be productive. |vs.| I choose to be productive.
I have to work out. |vs.| I choose to work out.

It is much more optimistic and empowering to state that you choose to do what you do.


Head on over to Part II of this blog series if you’re ready for more vocab-elimination fun!


About the Author

Melissa Foster

A productivity consultant for startups founders and entrepreneurs, Melissa Foster is on a mission to help her clients and readers create flow in their lives... and get big things done. A certified life coach, Melissa's hyper-focused, energetic approach is coupled with wisdom, warmth, and wit. You can get more from Melissa by visiting her website.