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The word diet you need to be on

January 17, 2021

It has nothing to do with what’s going in your mouth and everything to do with what’s coming out of it.



The unexamined life with jermaine fowler
The word diet you need to be on
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In a society with no shortage of diet trends, I’d argue that the most important, effective diet that produces almost immediate results is one that you’ve never heard of. It has nothing to do with what’s going in your mouth and everything to do with what’s coming out of it.

It’s a word diet. 

Consider the idea that language creates your reality. Without language we can’t communicate, we can’t create something from nothing, we can’t express ourselves fully. Words are the building blocks of the world around us, and language is the main thing that separates us from other living creatures.

With this understanding, consider that maybe everything you’re thinking and saying isn’t actually serving you. In fact, I’d like you to also consider that it’s sabotaging you in a lot of ways, keeping you stuck in subconscious patterns you want to get out of.

However, until you start to assess what it is you’re saying and thinking, you’d have no way of analyzing that.

Enter the word diet: an exercise in cultivating metacognition (the ability to think about our own thoughts) and shifting your mindset towards one of possibility and positivity.

Read on for a list of 5 dirtiest words that I bet you use allllll the time. If you eliminate them from your vocabulary immediately, you’ll start to see an instant shift in your reality.

Disclaimer: Like all diets, the concept here is simple. And the execution is HARD. Most of the time we’re not even consciously aware that we say these things. Forward this article to a friend to have them help hold you accountable and head over to Clubhouse to join our metacognition rooms on Weds at 5:35p MST and Sun at 11:35a MST to find some accountabilibuds.

#1: Should

Quit “shoulding” on yourself and others, immediately. When you use the word should, it is almost always an attempt to control a situation and is going to remove free will from the person being should on. It’s an undercover form of judgement. It creates a false set of expectations and when they go unmet can create unconscious resentment, shame, guilt, and regret. We often are shoulding on ourselves the most, so make sure to look under that hood too.

What it sounds like: 

“You should really read this book, I think you’ll like it!” 
“You should respond to all your business emails within 48 hrs.”
“I should have worked out today.” 
“I shouldn’t have said that.”

What to shift to instead: 

Think about eliminating it completely, or play with using “could” or “would” instead. Be clear if you’re setting an expectation or offering a suggestion.

#2: But

My teacher Susanne Conrad over at Lightyear Leadership always says that “But is a wall, and is a bridge.” Anytime you make a statement and follow it with “but” you’re actually saying negating the first part of what you said and essentially contradicting yourself. A wall is built between your first sentiment and whatever is going to come next will always be in opposition. 

What it sounds like: 
“I’d love to, but…” 
“That sounds good, but…” 
“You’re right, but…”
“I’m sorry, but…”

What to shift to instead: 
And.

When you instead use the word “and”, you open the door of possibility to find a mutual agreement. You essentially create a verbal bridge that can help both parties understand each other’s point of view and find a common ground.

#3: Try

Look no further than the wise and lovable Yoda on this one. “Do or do not, there is no try.”  When we use the word “try” our brain is put into  limbo because the end goal isn’t clearly defined. The brain is focused on the in between effort instead of the desired result of either doing or not doing something. Cognitive dissonance is created and the brain gets caught and focused on the in between deadzone of either doing or not doing, instead of being focused on the action itself.

What it sounds like: 
“I’ll try to make it.” 
“I tried my best” 

What to shift to instead:
Focus on what you are committed to doing or not doing. If you can’t give an answer immediately, make a commitment to circle back.

“I’ll check my calendar and let you know.” 
“I’ll work on shifting my language.”

#4: I don’t know

This one can be super tricky, because technically there are a shit ton of things “I don’t know”, and even more things that I don’t even know that I don’t know.

However, saying IDK keeps us stuck and disconnected from our inner knowing. When we are constantly telling ourselves IDK, it erodes the trust in we have with out relationship to our intuition. Whenever we say IDK we are subconsciously signaling to our brain that we don’t have the capacity/knowledge/understanding to make a decision.

It’s also a sneaky cop out and leaves the door open for us to not have to take personal responsibility, because if “hey, I didn’t know” then how could we have done anything differently?

What it sounds like:
“I don’t know what I want to eat.” 
“I don’t know how I feel about that.”

What to shift to instead:
Much like try, look to focus on what you do know or what you are doing to figure something out. Shift to being proactive in gaining knowledge

“I’m thinking about what I want for dinner.” 
“I’m processing how I feel about this situation.”

#5: Sorry

There have literally been books written on this one (thank you Rachel Hollis) and this is something that tends to come up more for women than men, and research shows that the Brits apologize more than Americans. We’re programmed to say sorry for things that we have zero control over and is an honest mistake (i.e. someone walks around a corner and bumps into you). Saying “sorry” brings a high level of guilt to the party, which is an icky vibe. Over apologizing is annoying, makes people loose respect for you, cheapens future apologies, and sends the message that you lack confidence and skills.

What it sounds like:
“Sorry I’m late!”
“Oh, sorry I didn’t see you there!”
“I’m sorry for your loss.”

What to shift to instead:
A few work arounds here for this one. Use “I apologize” or “forgive me” if you truly need to take accountability for your actions. If you find yourself saying sorry for no reason, you can use “excuse me” as a good substitute. And consider flipping it to a positive statement instead like, “Thanks for waiting for me, I appreciate you!” Where I get stuck the most on this one is when acknowledging or expressing sorrow. I focus on finding empathy and validating their feels by saying something like “Ugh, being sick is no fun. Do you need anything?” or “I’m sure you’re feeling a lot of pain and grief right now, how can I support you?” is usually well received.

6. Maybe

This one is probably the most wishy washy word in the book. Similar to “try”,  and “I don’t know” “maybe” is a filler word that creates limbo, is a cop out, and used to avoid taking responsibility and making a decision or commitment. It creates confusion of expectations on both sides and makes it hard to follow up on, creating more guilt and shame.

What it sounds like:
“I could maybe do that.”
“I don’t know, maybe.”

What to shift to instead:
Commit, don’t commit, or commit to share a decision later.

Now it’s execution time. Remember, like any diet this one is easy to think about and hard to execute.

Here’s how to play the word diet game:
-Get a friend to play along, you can catch each other because most of the time we’re unconsciously saying these words and don’t catch them ourselves.
-Say “Cancel cancel” anytime you catch yourself; it’s an energetic declaration to recall the communication, a tip I learned from the Silva Method.
-Take 2! Ask for a take 2 or a do-over, and replace the naughty word with a different one instead.
-Use a physical signal (i.e. hands over the mouth, snap, or clap) as a way of grounding it, pulling it out of your headspace and into the physical world so you can catch it quicker.

What words would you add and why? The possibilities are endless!

Give it a go and let me know what you think in the comments below, forward to a friend you think would like it and get on the Level Up List to get more articles like this delivered straight to your inbox.

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  1. Jenny Klemme says:

    I love this diet!! Thanks for sharing! I try to catch myself all the time before I said “but” and replace it with “and”…it’s definitely a practice.

    • Shenna Richardson says:

      Most certainly a practice! I catch myself everyday, it’s actually more of a word lifestyle instead of a diet 😜

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I'm Shenna Jean, your new let's make it happen friend.

I’ve spent the last 20 years of my career working with and learning from some of the most innovative brands in the world. Now I’m a corporate lifer gone rogue in order to support individuals and teams in their personal & professional development. My work meets at the intersection of leadership development, personal growth,  neuroscience, and advocacy, with a splash of yoga. I'm passionate AF about helping people realize their full potential and ready to help you tap into yours.

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