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Always, Never, Just, and Only - Oh My!

Most of us are familiar with the quote by Henry Ford, “Whether you think you can, or

you think you can't – you're right”. When we talk to ourselves and to others, the words we use matter. Words make the difference between success or not. Between peace or discord. Between the feeling of success versus defeat. How many times has your inner dialog or the conversation you had with someone else gone completely awry because the wrong word was used. I’m suggesting we be more aware of a few key words that are used all too often but have a similar limiting impact as can’t. They are – always, never, just and only.

Let’s start with the definition of always and never. Always – at all times; on all occasions. Never – not at all. We are human. We are complex. We make mistakes. Should we be defined by always and never? It’s human nature to gravitate towards the negative. Using these words really don’t give us much grace for mistakes or growing.

Let’s use the example of losing weight. When that internal dialog says things like “I always blow it” or “I’ll never be able to do this”, what do you think the impact of those words have on your weight loss journey? Is there compassion in those words for what you did succeed at? How would things look if you used different words? And really, how often are things always or never? Do you really never eat right or exercise?

Now onto the words just and only. These are minimizing words and used way too often. I removed those words from my vocabulary 6 years ago after I had a total knee replacement. I was an endurance athlete and now I couldn’t even get to the bathroom without discomfort and breathing heavily. I realized how diminishing those words were so I stopped saying to myself, “I only ran 3 miles”. I was lucky to be walking! I hear my clients when they recap their week say things like, “I just drank 1 glass of water” or “I only got to the gym once”. Don’t lessen your success. You drank a glass of water when you didn’t drink water before or applaud yourself for getting to the gym once. That’s once more than last week.

Our health is a journey – not a destination. So much of working with my clients is about applauding success and helping them reframe the way they talk to themselves and to others. As you work on changing or improving your weight, fitness, stress levels or relationships, pause a moment and think about the words you use. Being more precise with your words will make a difference.

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