Lately, I’ve started to become more aware of how the expressions I use is a direct reflection of me. The things I verbalize project my sense of conviction and self-worth. A lot of what I used to say diminished that and prevented me from actualizing my full potential. These are the ten things I stopped saying (or am trying to) that have made me a better communicator and overall, a more confident human being.

1. “Yes.”
It took a while to realize that by agreeing to everything, I was doing everyone a disservice, including myself. I wanted to desperately please others and feared saying no. But I’ve burnt myself out and have been taken advantage of too many times. Fortunately, I’m in a place where I get to be selective about the opportunities I pursue. I live by the rule to under-promise and over-deliver and if I don’t set boundaries and say “no,” I can’t fully embrace that.

2. “I’ve always done it like that.”
I am definitely guilty of doing things a certain way because I don’t know any better. But this is the most dangerous and detrimental attitude to have when trying to grow and expand. I got comfortable and held onto processes that were comfortable and familiar to me but I also realized that circumstances always change. It’s important to constantly reevaluate my approach to life and apply new ways of thinking amidst a changing landscape.

3. “I don’t think it’ll work.”
I’m ashamed to admit that I made many decisions based on assumptions as opposed to testing and collecting data. Whenever people recommended a different approach, I’d shut it down and assumed that it wont work without trying it out first. Now, as a UX designer, I swear by the testing mentality for everything. I try to figure out the most efficient way to test various approaches so I give them all a chance rather than assume something will not work.

4. “I don’t have time for that.” (or the alternative, “I wish I had that kind of time.”)
Time, or lack thereof, was the easiest to blame for things I didn’t get done or when I didn’t experience success. It took the burden off me and is a socially accepted excuse to use. I currently work full-time, am training for the marathon, making a career transition and blog. Instead of blaming my environment for my failures, I tell myself that I have the time for everything I want to do and it’s a matter of setting my priorities straight.

5. “Sorry, but…”
Unnecessary apologies are extremely self-sabotaging. I didn’t realize that my subtle interjections of sorries were bringing me down and allowing others to view me as weaker than I am. Perhaps it comes from a place of wanting to please others but it’s not worthwhile at the risk of diminishing my value. Sure, being fiercely unapologetic about my opinions may not sit well with everyone but I’d rather stand behind my decisions with conviction and remain unswayed.

6. “No worries.”
It took me a while to build the confidence to start saying, “you’re welcome” instead of, “no worries.” Despite the fact that they supposedly mean the same, they’re massively different in the psychological aspect. Saying “no worries” subtly indicating that whatever I did wasn’t a huge issue or that the other person should feel a bit troubled by asking me. In contrast, saying, “you’re welcome” empowers me. This allows me to more fully acknowledge the other person’s expression of gratitude and I like that.

7. “I should do this.”
This expression translates to, “I know this is right but I won’t do it…but I will say I should because it makes me feel better. I’ve probably said this to those who went out of their way and made recommendations for me. Realizing that this response probably made them feel unappreciated and devalued, I decided to stop saying this and respond in a more responsible manner. Now, I commit to actually trying something out and see what results it could produce.

8. “It’ll fall into place.”
I’ve always believed in the power to make my own choices. There was a time in my life, however, when I thought that things just naturally fell into place. I naively believed that I didn’t need to proactively take steps to making things happen and that the environment would do its work. This was clearly reflected in how often I’d use this expression. Instead of relying on this, I make the effort to say the exact actions I will take to get what I want. The best part is that it holds me accountable.

9. “I can’t.”
I still struggle with this one. This phrase is extremely toxic because it’s my attempt to put blame on external factors instead of taking personal responsibility. I have a bad tendency of saying “I can’t” too often when I want an easy excuse out. The truth is, it’s not that I can’t – it’s that I choose to skip certain occasions and/or tasks for something of higher priority. It’s easier to say that I can’t do something as opposed to properly declining because I risk coming off sounding rude.

10. “Honestly,…”
When I start my sentences with “honestly,” anything I might say otherwise could be discredited as being untruthful. I’d much rather be thought of as someone who speaks the truth at all times but if I feel the need to slap that word before every sentence, I’m pretty much setting myself up as someone who isn’t always authentic. I used to say this a lot to be blunt about being blunt but I feel genuine when I’m just making a statement rather than state the validity of that before what I say.

In the past, my verbal habits have diminished my sense of self-worth. It’s mind blowing to think about how society and my environment conditioned me to speak a certain way. Changing what I say, however, has been empowering. Eliminating these expressions was challenging, especially when I’m told that I come off too blunt or strong. It’s particularly difficult as a Japanese person – I’m expected to communicate in a more “delicate” manner. But screw that. I’m going to say what I please.

Cheers,

Riri