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Phrases That Limit Your Potential

How does your speech hold you back?

Language is a powerful tool we use to connect the things we want with things we do, yet our words are more revealing than we realize. Let’s take a deeper look at three common phrases and the effects of them on your potential.


#1 – Someone urges you to dream bigger, you respond with "I can't."

  • What it really means:You are not capable of doing something or you do not want to do something.
  • What it looks like: Your reasoning appears like a knee-jerk excuse rather than understanding the situation fully. You’re telling others, "I can’t. End of story. Don’t even ask me about it."
  • What you can say instead: "I'm not sure I have enough information to commit to that" or "I'm feeling a bit unsure. Would you help me talk it out?"

#2 - When working towards a big goal, you hesitate and say, "Well, as soon as I…"

  • What it really means:There is something you’re intentionally putting on hold because you don’t believe you can have it now.
  • What it looks like: Black and white thinking that there is a single path to reaching your goal.
  • What you can say instead: "This goal is so important to me, I’m open to bringing it forward every single day, rather than wait until after I (insert reason here)"

#3 – Anytime you say, "But…"

  • What it really means:You’re looking at the situation with a closed mind.
  • What it looks like: You don’t see opportunity and instead only see obstacles.
  • What you can say instead: "And…" (Yes, it’s that simple to replace the word "but" with the word "and." Speak every single sentence in the positive.

Try this strategy to change your thinking

What would be different if you stopped saying these three phrases? You might free yourself of these speaking shortcut which really don’t convey what you feel. You may remove unnecessary guilt associated with each of these postures. Think about the last time you said, "as soon as." It’s not usually connected to a "feel good" emotion, is it?

How are these phrases impacting your ability to reach your potential? How will you catch yourself using words and language that hold you back?

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