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Top 10 Words to Delete from Your Vocabulary
by On July 28, 2009

deleteWords are powerful because they shape our thoughts, determine our actions, and chart the course of our lives. This is true whether the words are positive, giving hope and encouragement, or negative utterances that steal our joy and confidence.

Wherever we are in our lives, personal relationships, or our careers, the words we have used consistently are partly responsible.

This fact can prompt us to become more aware of our words, and when needed, to change them, so that we can begin to get the results we really desire.

Recently, during a particularly challenging period, I discovered that I was using some of the following words far too often to get the favorable results I wanted:

  1. Can’t
    The use of this word is responsible for countless hopes and dreams lying dormant on the drawing boards of our lives. Completely eliminate your use of this word and you will see your life change for the better.
  2. But
    When used as a conjunction, “but” negates what ever statement precedes it. “I want to study medicine, but it will take a lot of hard work.” Your mind doesn’t focus on your desire to be a doctor or nurse; it only focuses on the hard work you need to put forth. Replace this word with “and.”
  3. Should
    Any statement that uses the word “should” elicits guilt. “I should have gone to the gym,” makes you feel guilty for not going. Replace this word with “choose,” as in, “I chose not to go to the gym because…” There is no such thing as should – it is or it isn’t.
  4. Maybe
    This word indicates indecision, doubt, or uncertainty as to a course of action. For example: “Maybe, I’ll better wait to…” for those of us interested in personal development, choose to use “maybe” sparingly. Replace this word with “I will” or “Will not.”
  5. Soon/Later
    Both of these words are indefinite in referring to time, it also shows a lack of commitment. Replace with a definite time or date.When someone tells you he or she is going to do something “soon” or “later” there is no way to determine when “whatever it is” will get done. Imagine what can happen to deadlines and you integrity when the words soon or later are used frequently.
  6. Someday
    This word, like “soon” or “later”, is too indefinite, and when it is used, it shows the same lack of commitment. Replace with a definite time or date.
  7. Never/Always
    These words are absolutes. There are only limited circumstances when “never” or “always” is absolutely true. The use of these words, in my opinion, suggests a closed mind, and personal growth is seriously hindered when “never” or “always” is used on a regular basis. Replace these words with a non-absolute term.
  8. Won’t
    The word “won’t” implies an unwillingness, reluctance, or closed mindedness, and, like “never”, it is quite harmful to our personal development or self-growth efforts. Using the word “won’t” closes the door on many of the action steps needed to advance our goal.
  9. If
    This is a small word that carries large doubts and uncertainties, and when used often, it gnaws away at our confidence and intended actions, two qualities necessary for any type of success.
  10. Try
    I don’t know about you, but each time someone has said these words to me, or when I have used them in conversations with others, whatever the subject of “I’ll try,” was, it rarely got done. Replace this word with “I will.”

Give these words serious thought before they are used in our “self talk,” conversations we have with others, or the written word.

We must remember this: Our words affect our thoughts, our actions and ultimately our lives, and because of their power, we must choose them with the utmost care.


Barbara J. Henry is a published author, (Journaling: Twenty Plus Reasons Why You Should Start Now), personal development expert, and avid reader of books on self-growth, self-help, and spirituality, which are the subjects of her blogs. Barbara has journaled daily since June of 1995, and as a result, she describes herself as “the journaling lady.”

Visit her web site: to read and comment on some of her blog posts. Visit the Titles and Products page for a free copy of her very effective tip sheet: “9 Write ways to Solve Problems.”

  1. Bobbi Schmitt

    My husband and I were just talking about these “black list” words. It can be tricky to get around them because they’re so common. I am focusing on not using them when talking to my 18-mo old daughter.

  2. Dave Denis

    So the title of her book is:
    *Journaling: Twenty Plus Reasons Why You Should Start Now)*

    Wouldn’t it be an improvement to call it “Twenty Plus reasons to CHOOSE to start Now” ?

    It’s remarkable how insidious these words can be.

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