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Change Your Words, Change Your World: 1 Word to Eliminate Today

By October 13, 2016January 25th, 201818 Comments

I remember feeling very proud of myself, back when I was General Manager of a stock car racing track called Delaware Speedway, when I read something in the local newspaper quoting me on something unpleasant we had encountered. I can’t recall the exact details of the situation, but it might well have been something like the race track surface falling apart, or not having enough staff to run the event, or worrying that there would not be enough race teams to be able to create a division of competition, or even how we were ever going to get along with an arrogant and unreasonable sanctioning body. What I do remember was that I had been quoted as saying that we had “a challenge to overcome” or that we were “up for the challenge,” and that it was an “opportunity to make  improvements.” When I read that, I knew that I had fully internalized and applied a lesson taught to me years before.

Change your words, change your world. May as well start with one.

Thank Goodness for Great Mentors!

MentorshipI owe a lot of my personal and professional development to a good friend and mentor of mine named George Lightfoot. After working for many years in the banking industry, George set out on his own, created a company called Entrepreneurial Support Services, and has helped countless businesses and individuals in the time since by offering coaching, consulting and seminars on consultative sales, strategic market planning, effective practical management, and financial management skills. Within each of those trainings, George would, of course, give very specific examples of ways to improve performance in that area. So it’s always been kind of interesting to me that some of the things that stood out the most from his training and that have endured and woven themselves into my personality in the time since are the things that don’t necessarily have to do directly with business at all. Don’t get me wrong: I’ve applied all kinds of useful information into each of the areas of business I just described. Yet it seems to be the very simple, universal ideas that are helpful in just about all aspects of life (As a quick aside, one of the things that he noted in his sales seminar was common courtesy. To this day, that is the best sales technique that I know of; just being courteous in treating people with the respect that I would like them to treated with. It’s really pretty basic).

Cut This Word Out of Your Dictionary, Out of Your Mind, Out of Your Life

It’s very possible I was exposed to this many times before, but I first remember hearing this from George. It’s definitely not a new idea, but it is very powerful in its simplicity. It involves one word that you can change and eliminate from your vocabulary. Take this one word out of your thoughts, speech, and other communication, and you almost can’t help but be in a more positive state more of the time and feel more optimistic.

The word? Problem.

If the word “problem” were a person or a character, it would be a shadowy figure in very dark clothing. It would make you cold, or at least a little bit chillier, every single time it came anywhere near. It would be the kind of person that would walk into a room and cause everyone already there to have the reaction of, “Oh, what a downer!” And yet, we use this word all the time. We think it, we say it, we type it, and we swing it around at work and at home, recklessly unaware of the shadow we’re casting on our positive spirit and the chokehold we are throwing around our optimism.

What To Use Instead?

DictionaryNo one likes a problem. It’s a downer. It’s an automatic trip to the basement of human vibration. It’s a drag. But everyone can relate to the idea of rousing your spirit to overcome a challenge. And everyone loves opportunity. These two words put together in place of the previous word offer a much more empowering thought and communication process. Now, imagine if we changed some other thoughts and words and the messages that we’re telling ourselves and others on a grander scale. What would that do?! Well, that is a message for another day.

For now, I encourage you to try this: take the next few days and put your awareness to your thoughts and communication, written and verbal. Listen to what others are saying. See how much that word comes up and take note of how it makes you feel. When you’re getting ready to say it, or even think it, stop yourself if you can. See if you can rephrase it to use the word challenge or opportunity instead. See how that feels.

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Beware Those “Sneaky” Negators …

Oh, and by the way, this even works when you’re trying to be positive! I’ll give you an example: When somebody says “thank you” for something, and you replied, “no problem!” You are still using a negative word and it is hurting you more than you probably think. Try the phrases, “You’re welcome,” or “My pleasure” instead. Here’s what you are going to notice: Those latter two phrases feel awkward to say! But “problem” feels normal. What does that tell you about the society we’ve created?! The good news is, you have the power to choose your words and thoughts. Try starting with just this one for today and see how it goes. What have you got to lose?

I would love to know how you make out, and also would be happy for you to share other words or phrases you use to feel more optimistic more of the time. Please feel welcome to leave a comment below, as always.

Good luck!

If you’d like to explore this more, I highly recommend reading “The Four Agreements” by Don Miguel Ruiz. It was life-changing for me. See why one of the agreements is to “Be Impeccable With Your Word.” You can learn more about the book at the link below. You can probably find it at your local library. Or if you feel like buying it through Amazon, using the link below will kick a few cents back my way. It all helps.

And if you’d like to be put in touch with George Lightfoot of Entrepreneurial Support Services (a good idea for anyone in business, in my opinion), contact me directly and I’ll put you in touch.



  • Adrian Prince says:

    Hi Kevin,

    You’ve just reminded me how powerful our words are and we sometimes don’t realise what we are really saying and the effect it has on us and other people around us. You obviously have been taught well judging by the quote from the newspaper when you were the General Manager of the Stock Car Racing Track in Delaware.

    Having a good mentor has been a key to your development, and I have to agree that using the words ‘No problem’ and ‘No worries’ after I have helped somebody out with something is not the best. From now on, I’m going to use ‘You’re welcome or ‘My pleasure’ as they sound so much better and more uplifting.

    Negative words do have a habit of finding their way into our conversation and effect us more than we care to admit, so thanks for the post and you have done a good job on the video as well.

    • Kevin says:

      Thank you, Adrian. I appreciate all those kind and encouraging words! I enjoy your site and look forward to many more visits!
      Best wishes,

  • ToveL says:

    Loved your article. It was full of depth and thoughts that gave me something to think about. I know what you mean when you mention the word problem. I know that many of us say: No problem and don’t think about the consequences of using it. I am in a place right now where I am thinking about how I treat myself. Whenever I treat myself in a bad manner I know that and shift it immediately. I am proud of myself for being able to do that now. I have struggled for many years to change my behavior towards myself without succeeding. I am now 52 years of age and have finally been capable of being different such as more emphatic and friendly and loving towards myself. I can ask for help more often than before and not expect myself to be perfect. That has brought up a more loose and humorous side of me that I really enjoy.

    Thanks for sharing this article with me. It brought up so many good stuff inside me.


    • Kevin says:

      Hi Tove,
      I’m really pleased to hear you’re in a good place. I’ve been similar, in that I’m getting much better at catching those negative voices and choosing to re-program my thoughts toward something more positive. It takes effort and repetition, doesn’t it?
      I like your description of “humorous and loose.” I feel the same. I just feel more cheerful more of the time, and life is better lived this way.
      Wishing you well!

  • Jessica says:

    Too often we forget how important our words are. Thank you for this article reminding us to be positive in order to change our lives for the better. I know I will be putting this into action in my life right away.

  • Darcy says:

    Very nice article! This will help people out a LOT In life. I suffer from depression myself, and often do positive thinking exercises, and eliminating negative sounding words is one of them. Keep up the great work!

    • Kevin says:

      Thank you Darcy. I’m grateful for the encouragement. I also struggled with depression for a time, and a lot of anxiety. With patience and determination, I was able to break away from that pattern. But it’s amazing how many little things add up to really weigh on us heavily. It wasn’t until I learned that I needed to start loving and appreciating myself, and what that meant and what I could do about it, that things really began to turn. But it’s doable.

      I wish you happiness and health. Be well!


  • vivia says:

    Hi Kevin,

    I’m normally very careful about the way that I speak, and the words that I use. The weird part is that until I read your article I hadn’t realised how negative the word problem could be. I almost always say ‘No problem,’ after being thanked for something, and am going to make a real effort to change that.
    What are the other words that you would recommend eliminating as well?

    Love and light

    • Kevin says:

      Hi Vivia,
      Thanks for your note. I’ve really become conscious of trying to steer away from reinforcing anything even casually negative, and instead focusing on something positive. For instance, if I were to speak or write an affirmation, rather than saying something like, “The pain in my elbow is completely healed,” I would say something more like, “My elbow feels strong, completely healed and healthy,” … or something like that. When you think of how many words we use all the time, it’s easy to see how we become so rundown: pain, frustration, tired, exhausted, overwhelmed, busy, hurt, sad .. it goes on and on. There is always a way to reframe it.
      I’m doing my best to apply that model toward just about everything in life: programming myself to see what I LIKE as opposed to focusing – even for a second – on what I don’t like. I admit, it’s a challenge! But it does work.
      Wishing you well!

  • Brent Trick says:

    An awesome example of showing a solution to a problem. Love your site. Keep up the good work!!

  • Nnamdi says:

    Hello Kevin,

    You sure have ways with words! I like the headline ”Changed your words, change your world”, even though I don’t have the faintest idea of what it meant until I got into the article.

    I was encouraged and more optimistic after going through your article because basically what you are trying to accomplish with this post is for us to be positive and optimistic. To eliminate every negativity and really thank you for this and I think this will change lives.

  • Lawrence Gregory says:

    Hey Kevin =)

    Thanks for creating this post.

    Not many people will be aware of how powerful the words they use are.

    I wonder how many people stop when they feel under pressure, uncomfortable, down etc and ask themselves “what are the words I’m using in my day to day life”.

    So this will be a massive wake up call to those who need it – thanks for reminding me to keep on top of my psychology too =)

    • Kevin says:

      Hi Lawrence!
      Thank you for that. I certainly didn’t realize how much poison I was feeding myself, for YEARS, with the automatic negative thoughts and words, without even realizing it. Once you become aware, it’s amazing how many instances you can catch of reinforcing a negative when you’re not even meaning to. So even taking little words like “problem” out of your thoughts is a good step.
      Thanks for your time and the work you’re doing with your site as well. It’s great work!
      Be well,

  • Billie says:


    I enjoyed reading your post! I have recently started using “positive” parenting strategies. The difference is unbelievable! It takes a negative “command” and shows you how to rephrase it into a polite request with better results! Even young children respond better to a positive rather than a negative! I have slowly been making the transition myself away from “problematic” thinking and behaviors without even realizing it! Very solid advice that we should all work hard to implement in our lives as negativity leads to so many chronic health conditions it would be best to start sooner than later!

    • Kevin says:

      Hi Billie,
      Thanks for your comments. I love what you’ve shared about parenting. I’ve done the same thing with my boys. And the more I do it, the more aware I’ve become of how automatic our negativity can be. It’s scary! We “dump” on those we love without even being aware of it. But it’s really not that hard a concept to understand: would you rather have someone catch you doing something well, recognize and encourage it, or only ever hear from them when they think you’re doing something “wrong?” Even the difference between saying, “Don’t make a mess” instead of, “I appreciate it that you keep things tidy” (or something like that) adds up over time. And it also has the additional benefit of your kids knowing that you’re serious when times do call for a more stern direction. At least, that’s how it’s been with us.
      Thanks for your time and encouragement. Wishing you and your family all the very best.

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