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I’m Sorry, I Don’t Know, I Can’t …

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I find myself blurting out I don’t know as an instant answer to questions I don’t have immediate answers for. Lately, I’ve been noting how these simple words made me feel, and I’m starting to take notice that on some level, these casual words are effecting my emotions and self-esteem.

Saying I don’t know, I’m sorry, I can’t and “I don’t want to but have to” are slowly changing my mindset. Through my observations, I’ve noticed how common it is to use these popular phrases without giving them a second thought.

Do you find yourself saying the words I’m sorry or I don’t know often? Did you know that this over-sighted language pattern is actually limiting our potential to happiness and ultimately getting what we want?

Let’s have a closer look at each one and notice their effect in our internal mental space. Let’s, also, consider some alternative phrases we can use in their place, which are more conducive to our personal growth.

Before diving in, let’s point out a few things about our unconscious mind.

 

Our Hidden Gold Mine: The Unconscious Mind

We function as a result of the beautiful harmony between our conscious and unconscious mind. The unconscious mind is the master mind hidden away from our awareness. It is a powerhouse of unlimited potential. Our unconscious mind stores the majority of information in our brains, and can process much more data simultaneously (about 2 billion times more) than the conscious mind.

We believe that our conscious mind controls everything, because it is the only brain we are acutely aware of. And we commonly associate our conscious mind as “me”.

If our conscious mind is indeed “in control” as we believe, then why do we sign up for gym memberships after new years and never go? Why it is that even after we’ve decided on something we really want (like a new hobby), we fail to take action on it?

While our conscious mind is the captain of our ship, our unconscious mind is the guys in the engine room, making the ship run. The ship moves because of the work done by these engine room guys. They listen to the commands from the captain, without question. They are exceptional at taking commands and executing them.

Since the conscious mind has limited capacity and can only become aware of a very limited set of information, our unconscious mind only surfaces what we consider important. How does the unconscious mind know what’s important? It doesn’t. The unconscious mind determines this based on the frequency of commands it receives of the same topic from the conscious mind.

Each time we have a conscious thought, or we verbalize words aloud, or see a scene in our imagination, it gets fed into our unconscious mind. Like a command from the captain, whether it is our intention or not, the command gets executed in some form; it leaves an impression on the unconscious mind.

This explains why when we are shopping for a particular type of car, we start to notice it everywhere. We have given this car repeated conscious attention. Our unconscious mind noted it as being important and begins to surface this information whenever possible.

In summary, what we say gets noted by our unconscious mind, all the time. It then shows you more evidence to back up those thoughts. This is true for both thoughts which are conducive and un-conducive to our wellbeing.

Okay, let’s dive in!

 

 

I’m Sorry

We’re all familiar with and have casually used this in our daily communications. Here are some variations:

  • I’m Sorry but…
  • I’m Sorry
  • Sorry about that

When we reply to an email two days after receiving it, many of us insist on starting the email with I’m sorry. Now consider this: have we done something wrong? Do we really feel sorry? Or are we just repeating a popular saying? What are we gaining as a result of saying this?

Try this: close your eyes. Repeat the words “I’m sorry” in your imagination. You can even say it out aloud. Now, observe your feelings. Do you feel a tightness subtly bunching up in the pit of your stomach? Or a light pull along your inner throat? Do you sense feelings of guilt?

Now imagine that this feeling of guilt is triggered in us each time we say the words “I’m sorry”, even when casually used. Remember how our unconscious mind takes orders of what we say? If we repeatedly tell it that we are sorry for trivial things, then it will note down that we have done something wrong, thus polluting our internal space, unnecessarily.

Additionally, we’ve created an association between that feeling and the action taken. So, if we repeatedly say I’m sorry each time we reply to emails after 2 days, then we’ve programmed ourselves to feel guilt whenever we do not respond to emails immediately.

Lastly, the more we repeat these words, the more we dilute their meaning. People are incredibly sensitive creatures, and can sense when we don’t genuinely feel sorry. This may come off as insincere to them. So we’re better off by not saying it. I recommend we reserve the words I’m sorry to situations when we really mean it, and need it to express our genuine feelings.

Suggested Action Items:

  • Observe yourself in your daily life and see how often you want to say “I’m sorry”.
  • Each time you type “I’m sorry” in an email or catch yourself saying it, ask yourself, “Do I really feel sorry? Or am I just saying it?” If the answer is “I’m just staying it to sound good”, erase it from the email.
  • Try to reduce the frequency of saying I’m sorry. Reserve it for when you really mean it. Reserve it for when you truly feel sorry for something you have done that may have hurt another.

 

I Don’t Know [Part 1]

When it comes to making a decision, we are often caught saying I don’t know. It’s a popular answer because we get lazy and we have conditioned ourselves to the habit of saying it. Here are some variations:

  • I don’t know where it is
  • I don’t know what to do
  • I don’t know which to choose
  • I can’t decide
  • I don’t know

Kara Pecknold Bored Bordom Table Woman Sitting
Photo by Kara Pecknold

There is a difference between truly not knowing something and believing that you don’t know something. There’s also the connotation that you do not have the ability to decide or to learn something new. These words are repeated so causally that we start to rely on them out of laziness and habit.

At times, even for the smallest decision, we would shrug and say “I dunno”. Why? Because it’s an easy answer. We don’t have to think.

Trivial decisions like, “Which type of pasta should I order for lunch?”, “Which color should I get?” I have personally been caught saying I don’t know during similar scenarios. You’re not alone.

While saying this is the easy way out, it is also conditioning us that indecision is okay. We end up leaving decisions open, while it consumes our mental energy, unnecessarily.

Often times, we have the answer, but we are hesitant to repeat it out of fear that it might be the wrong decision. So instead, we say “I don’t know”.

Each time we use this casually, we are telling our unconscious mind that “I am an indecisive person. I am not very intelligent, because I cannot even decide on the simplest of choices. I am not capable of making a decision on important issues. I am not important.”

I am exaggerating here, but you get the point.

What we repeatedly do becomes our habits. And if we make a habit out of indecisiveness on small decisions, how will we react when we need to make important decisions in life, in business, or in relationships?

Being indecisive sends a similar message to the people around you. We tend to trust and rely on people who are decisive. It is a character strength; especially in business.

Suggested Action Items:

  • Replace “I don’t know” when making a decision with an alternative phrase. Come up with a list of such alternatives. Here are some ideas:
    • “Give me a moment, I have not decided yet.”
    • “Let me think about it.”
    • “I am evaluating my options.”
    • “Hmmm. Let me see…”
    • Action: List out the options and their pros and cons.
  • Practice repeating alternative phrases, so that we can internalize them and say them when appropriate in place of I don’t know.
  • Instead of wanting to fill space and silences with “I don’t know” when being asked a question, practice not saying anything immediately. Pause a moment before speaking.

 

I Don’t Know [Part 2]

The other type of I Don’t Knows, tend to imply our inability to do something. Here are some variations:

  • I don’t know how to …
  • I don’t see …
  • I don’t remember …

Again, we say this, because it’s easy. We throw our hands up in the air and simply declare that we don’t know. Often, we have given up before we even try.

Consider the following scenario:

Person A: “Where is the salt?”

Person B: “On the kitchen shelf.”

Person A: “I don’t see it.”

Person B walks to where person A is standing, reaches over where person A is looking, and pulls out the salt bottle. It was right in front of person A.

Have you been in such a scenario? I certainly have. Did person A truly not see the salt? Or did person A believe that she did not see the salt? Bingo!

Remember that our unconscious mind takes commands directly from our words? When we tell ourselves that we do not see something, we are passing the message to our unconscious mind in the form of a command. It proceeds accordingly and makes a note to stop passing anymore messages to the conscious mind when salt bottles are seen. Isn’t that funny?

Similarly, when we say “I can’t remember”, we are telling our unconscious mind to not let us know the answer, even though the unconscious mind remembers. So, while we have the memories stored in our unconscious mind, we have deliberately sent the command to not bring the memory to our awareness.

Suggested Action Items:

  • Practice rephrasing common non-conducive phrases to wordings that suggest possibilities. Here are some examples:
    • When you hear yourself saying , “I don’t see the salt anywhere on the shelf”, rephrase and ask yourself, “If I could see the salt, where would it be?”
    • When you want to say “I don’t remember where I put the keys?”, rephrase the question to “If I could remember, what would they be?”
    • Instead of saying “I don’t know how to.”, rephrase to “I have not learned how to do that yet, but I can learn.
    • Instead of saying “I can’t open this” rephrase to “If I could open this, how would I open it? Let me keep trying. I know I can do this!”
  • Practice repeating alternative phrases, and use them when appropriate. Turn the alternative phrasing into a habit.

 

I Can’t

This is such a common phrase that I too catch myself saying it, and it seems to slip out automatically before I even realize consciously. Here are some variations:

  • I can’t find it
  • I can’t do it
  • I can’t get it working
  • I can’t make it today
  • I can’t remember
  • I don’t have time …

Kara Pecknold Focus Shoes Red
Photo by Kara Pecknold

When we say I can’t do something, we’ve just declared impossibility as a definite answer. We are telling ourselves that we will never be able to do it, because we lack the necessary capabilities.

Similar to I don’t know, there is a difference between not being physically capable to do something, and mentally believing that we do not have what it takes to do it.

By saying we can’t do something, we are suggesting that we do not have the ability to learn, that we have given up, that we lack the potential that other gifted humans possess. Also, by saying things like “I can’t do it” or “I can’t find it” or “I can’t get it working”, we are denying ourselves of possibilities and solutions. We blind sight ourselves.

By saying we don’t have the time, we are impressing upon ourselves that we are very busy, making us feel important. It is an illusion. Yes, we may have a very full schedule, but when we say we don’t have time, it usually means that we just don’t want to do it. Not having enough time is an excuse. If it was important enough, we’d find the time. Besides, if we counted the total time we spent browsing the web, checking email, and watching TV, we would have more than enough time to fit in those things we just didn’t have time for.

One of my favorite quotes is, “If I can’t, then I must.” Try it, you’ll find that what you used to consider impossible suddenly becomes probably and very accessible.

Suggested Action Items:

  • Come up with alternative phrasings to popular I can’t phrases. Here are some examples:
    • Instead of saying “I can’t find it”, say “I have not seen it yet, l will keep looking.” or “If I could find it, where would it be?”
    • Instead of saying “I can’t get it working”, consider saying “It is not working yet, but I will keep trying until it works.” Or “I am still working on this. If you have a sec, will you help me?”
    • Instead of saying “I can’t make it today because…”, consider skipping out the excuses and give a firm but honest answer, “I am going to pass on it now, maybe next time? Thank you for inviting me. It means a lot.”
  • Stop telling others they can’t do something. Alternatives to “You can’t do that” are “I prefer you not to do that” or “I don’t recommend doing that because …” or “I tried it last time and it did not work for me, maybe it will work for you.”

 

 

I Have To

Saying I have to suggests that we do not have a choice, and that we are not in control of our lives. Here are some variations:

  • I have to finish this
  • I have to go to this event

For starters, you don’t have to do anything! You know that. The world will not come to an end if you don’t do something (in most cases). We feel like we have to for one of two reasons:

  1. It brings you pleasure/benefit. ie. Something you enjoy doing.
  2. It reduces pain. ie. Losing a job or friendship, or an excuse not to do something else.

Similar to I’m sorry, by suggesting that we have no choice but to do something, we introduce guilt in our inner space. For example, we don’t want to go to a party, but we feel pressure to do so, and if we do not go, we feel guilty. This guilt is really unnecessary.

We are in control of our lives, and instead of saying I have to, replace it with I want to, or I am doing something because here are the benefits it brings me. Maybe you don’t want to go to your friend’s baby shower, but you go to it, because it will make your friend very happy for her special occasion. Your attendance benefits you because it makes you feel good that you’ve made someone else happy.

If we have decided to do something that we would rather not be doing, instead of treating it like a chore or dragging it on with unpleasant thoughts, why not shift our perspective so that we can enjoy it? What benefit will it bring us by prolonging the unhappy thoughts and using the “I have to do this” excuse?

Suggested Action Items:

  • Instead of saying “I have to do this“, say “I want to do this” or “I am doing this because (insert benefits to you)”
  • If you don’t want to do something, instead of giving people excuses starting with “I’d love to but, I have to…“, just gracefully say “Thanks for the invite, but I am resting at home tonight.” Or “Thank you. I have plans tonight. Maybe next time.” (Note: a date with yourself at home count as plans.) You don’t owe anything to anybody. Be honest and do so with your head held high.

 

Parting Words

The language we use is incredibly powerful. It is a direct command into our unconscious mind. Whether we realize it or not, or it was spoken casually or not, our unconscious mind is listening. Your unconscious mind takes notes even when you’re not paying attention.

While this article focused specifically on language, the same principle is applicable to other sensory inputs. Inputs such as the movies we watch, the clothes we wear, the thoughts we repeatedly iterate in our minds, the day dreams we have, the types of books and blogs we’re reading. They all get fed into our unconscious mind as input and treated as commands.

“Your beliefs don’t simply reflect your reality, they create your reality.”

Our unconscious mind is a magnificent tool, and learning to take advantage of its functions can help us achieve our goals and to live the life that we desire. As fluffy as that may sound, it is true. These are all examples from my own life, and I hope you find these (possibly new) ideas useful in your own life. Adapt them, give them your own twist, live it and pass it on.

What are some alternative phrases you can suggest to I don’t know, I’m sorry, I can’t, I have to? Any other thoughts you want to share with us? Talk to us below in the comments! See you there!

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About the author

Tina Su is a mom, a wife, a lover of Apple products and a CHO (Chief Happiness Officer) for our motivational community: Think Simple Now. She is obsessed with encouraging and empowering people to lead conscious and happy lives. Subscribe to new inspiring stories each week. You can also subscribe to Tina on Facebook.

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81 thoughts on I’m Sorry, I Don’t Know, I Can’t …

  1. Positive thinking can give us new and better perspective in life.

  2. You know that if you always say these words, you will lost your courage. It seems that people should be a litte bit positive in the life and this attitude will let you feel your life better. Why not try one tiffany silve jewelry?

    Guo Jingjing the most successful diver in Olympic history Sunday by winning the women’s springboard event told us that sometimes a good tiffany jewelry can give her luck and let her find beauty.

  3. I agree in driving your language or it drives you.

    One way I get people unstuck when they say they dont’ know is I ask “if you did know, what might it be?”. It’s simple but it works. It lowers the bar from give me the right answer, to take a stab at it.

  4. Mays

    Thank you for this article.

    ‘Each time we use this casually, we are telling our unconscious mind that “I am an indecisive person. I am not very intelligent, because I cannot even decide on the simplest of choices. I am not capable of making a decision on important issues. I am not important.”’

    That excerpt in particular made me stop and realize how much it applies to the tasks I expect of myself. I often instinctively feel that if I don’t know an answer right off the bat, I must not be worthy to answer the question. I never stopped to realize that to find an answer, you must pause and think of one. That sounds like simple common sense, but once that urge to impress people instantly becomes a habit, it tends to stick. This article has motivated me to stop putting so much pressure on myself. Thanks again.

  5. I like this article. “I can’t” always holds you back, because even if you know it’s not true, you’re reinforcing a limiting belief subconsciously. I can’t think of any time when you’d actually need to use “I can’t.” :D

  6. What you are talking about here is what I call conventional thinking and/talking which leads to conventional actions too.

    Here is a list of what this conventional thinking leads to and how to solve it in my experience:
    This kind of thinking leads to the conventional stress:

    1. Slow down worry, stress, and anxiety by noticing the gaps between thoughts. These gaps are silent unmoving calmness. Within this silent, there is an incredible insight of just BEING. When the mind is quiet (even just the brief moments of noticing the gaps) there leaves room for the state of beingness to share its wisdom of universal knowledge.

    2. Correct & rephrase – Everytime you hear yourself (or others) think/say things in the concepts of shoulds, should nots, and have tos. Always remember and rephrase yourself (them) to realize that you (they) have another choice. Even not choosing something is still a choice.

    This kind of conventional thinking leads to having doubt in life:

    3. Apply the principles of faith and empowerment: be positive, optimistic, passionate, inspirational, enthusiastic. Be creative, imaginative, use visualization, broaden your horizons, be clear on what you desire, etc.

    This kind of thinking leads to thoughts that everyone is unimportant:

    4. Think of yourself (and everyone else) as someone special, important, significant, and has a purpose to fulfill. Think about it often, think about it until you feel it. Walk in this world as if you are a super hero among empowered people. Talk to people in a calming/relaxed manner, in a way that convinces them that you see purpose in your/their life.

    This conventional way of thinking, leads to disempowering thought:

    5. Write down inspiring/empowering things, keep them close to remember them and refer to them often (post them on your desktop wallpaper, bathroom mirror, above your bed to have them implanted into your thoughts when you first wake up, and anywhere you will constantly notice them). Read empowering books/articles about passion, purpose, achievement, and success, this will guide you to recognize that all empowered people share the common ground of unconventional thoughts, words, and actions.

    The conventional thinking, will lead to conventional jobs/work:

    6.Give up your guilt – There is no reason to feel guilty about unconventional thinking. Hard work, effort, and quantity is not as important as purposeful work, effortless insight, and quality. You will not create anything of value for yourself (or others) if you do not enjoy creating it (hard work does not apply). You will not gain anything insightful, inspiring, or possess enthusiasm from effort. You will not create anything with substance without quality (quantity does not apply to value).

    Thank you Tina for being exactly who you are unconventional! :)

  7. What I like about the article is is how it encourages us to pay attention to the automatic way we react to the world around us, often without giving it a thought. By increasing our self-awareness of our behaviour patterns, I believe we open the door to the possibility of change.

    The article focuses very much on short phrases which are in answer to some question, posed by someone else (‘Here’s the waiter – what are you ordering?’) or even by the person themselves (‘Do I want chicken or fish?’ as the trolley comes down the aisle). ‘Oh, I don’t know’.

    Tina’s suggestions for changing the responses seem to work well. And I think we would do well to also consider the responsibilities of the questioner in the system.

    Our educational system has, for good or ill (or both probably), trained us that:
    a) if someone (even ourselves) asks a question, we have to respond,
    b) we should know the answer and
    c) if we don’t know the answer, we’d better have a determination to find the answer – or at least have a good excuse!

    a) and c) come from the disciplinary structure and b) comes from the idea that we have been taught the information beforehand so ‘should’ know it. This works both ways: students should answer questions posed to them by teachers and vice versa.

    I think this becomes embedded in our culture and is what prompts our knee jerk answers. Someone asks us a question and we feel the need to give an answer straightaway before we have a concrete answer to give. Why should we expect to be able to do that? We don’t know everything; some questions need some thought, careful consideration before replying.

    Tina’s proposed changed answers (e.g. ‘I don’t know… but I’ll find out’) work well as they stand and do improve self-awareness and assertiveness too. They still follow the ‘rule’ that we ‘should’ be able to answer the question.

    Yet who needs the answer? Is the question being asked to help the answerer to learn something? Or is it being asked because the questioner wants something? In other words, who is the question for?

    Before answering someone else’s question, sometimes it is worth asking yourself (or even the questioner) some of the following questions :

    Where does that question come from?
    Who is that question for?
    What is the purpose of that question?
    Why are they asking me, particularly?
    What is presupposed or assumed in that question?
    Am I open to answer that question how I like?

    For example:
    ‘When are you going to realise that he’s no good for you?’

    What is presupposed?
    The questioner holds as an unquestionable fact that ‘he is no good for you’. In their mind, the only question is when you are going to realise it.

    Am I open to answer as I like?
    Absolutely not, if you accept the question. This is not really a question but a demand for agreement.

    Possible responses to ‘When are you going to realise he’s no good for you?’:
    ‘[laughs ironically] Next Tuesday at 3.30pm.’
    ‘I don’t accept your question.’
    ‘I don’t accept your question because it’s loaded.’
    ‘You’re assuming that it’s a fact that he’s no good for me and I don’t agree that’s a fact; it’s an opinion you have.’

    Another example:
    Your friend is in the clothes shop with you while you choose a dress and asks brusquely: ‘Have you decided which colour you’re going to buy yet?’

    Where does that question come from?
    Using the tone of voice as a guide, it comes from her impatience or desire to be doing something else, soon. time is definitely a factor.

    What is the purpose of that question?
    To hurry me up because my decision process is taking longer than she wants.

    What is presupposed?
    That a decision needs to happen soon, for reasons unstated.

    Possible responses to ‘Have you decided which colour you’re going to buy yet?’:
    ‘No, I want to take my time because I need to be sure I will like it when I get it home’
    ‘If you are in a rush, why not go and get a coffee and I’ll see you in the cafe.’
    ‘I’m feeling rushed, give me a bit of time and space’

    To summarise, I think it’s worth checking the purpose and origin of any question that you can’t answer straightaway – and to assert your right to answer it any way you please.

    RE the ‘I don’t know’ answer, there’s an interesting thread started on it at cleanforum.com. One of the best things to do as questioner when someone answers ‘I don’t know’ to a question you put to them is to simply stay silent and allow them time to consider further.

    After all, life is not a quiz!

    Thanks for the stimulating article, Tina.

    Phil Swallow

  8. * News -> Olds (News as in newspaper. I think I got this one from Steve Pavlina – I’m not really anal for sources. Anyway here’s the sentence that inspired it: Most news stories are repetitive, redundant, and say the same things twice. Very few stories are actually fresh and new. News should really be called “olds.”)
    * Positive -> Pro-active (although this is really spelled proactive, I prefer the emphasis on the word “active”)
    * Multitask -> MultiFocus (Because it is not the number of tasks we are constantly doing that reduces our efficiency but rather the number of things splitting our focus that confuses us to what we want to be doing.)
    * Practice -> Grind/Grinding (This one is more negative and is obviously an rpg reference)
    * Taught -> Enabled them to discover
    * Polyphasic Sleep -> PolyActive Healing (My uneducated attempt at self-psycho-analyzing: The desire to replace the word sleep with the word healing to clarify to one’s consciousness the true value of sleep and hopefully lessen the misinterpretation that one is merely “resting” or wasting away their time when one is feeling drowsy but busy.)
    * Nice Guy -> Annoying Pussy (I’m serious with this btw. Here’s the rationale: The phenomena by which mainstream society conformizes and verbally praises the act of annoyance and wimpiness and re-interprets these as the act of a legitimate nice male person thus subsidizing this behaviour which results in men misguidedly adapting this approach to court women.)
    * Teacher -> Opportunizer (A word replacement designed to focus on the true structure of learning thus keeping people from turning these educators into authoritarians of education.)
    * Difficult -> Challenging (The first word replacement that got me back to believing in this concept. Forget where the original link was though. It probably sounds fluffier without it and maybe it still would even with it but it was a strong influence to me at the time)
    * H.E.L.L. (another negative one and this one doesn’t apply but it stands for History, Experience, Life, Legacy)
    * Storytelling -> Storysharing (I personally prefer the words Plagiarizing but it is offensive to many and there’s a negative connotation in that word that even I couldn’t avoid in my head.)

  9. Hey Tina,

    Our subconscious mind is the strongest muscle we have. If we condition it to be reactive rather than proactive, we’ll give up easier, experience less, and decrease desired results.

    Be proactive – find out how rather than make excuses for why not. In achieving personal goals, dealing with people, traveling, creating – subconsciously say ‘yes’ rather than ‘no’ and you’ll be surprised how easy and abundant things you want come to you.

    Instead of ‘I don’t know how’ … ask ‘how do I find out?’

    Instead of ‘I’m sorry I didn’t do this earlier’ … don’t say anything.

    Instead of ‘I can’t do this’ … ask ‘how can I do this?’

    Instead of ‘I have to do this’ … say ‘I want to do this because then I’ll get this desired result.’

    Great exploration of our subconscious, how powerful it is, and your suggestions for gearing it in the proactive direction,
    Oleg

  10. Cory

    Not saying sorry is a discipline taught to us in the military. I remember in boot camp when ever anyone said sorry the response was, “you sure are!”

  11. Hi Tina,
    I’ve just come across your broomsite*! It’s a fantastic, very helpful and uplifiting site!

    Reading your articles is like taking an injection of positivity through my eyeballs! Love it! :-D

    *broomsite – as in a site that removes cobwebs from life, leaving simplicity and clarity! ;-)

    Best wishes to you!
    Denver

  12. It is so nice to read and imbibe but I feel this has to be constantly reminded. I also had read ” The power of Unconcious Mind”by Dr Joseph Murphy, this book is a must read whoever believes in this science.

  13. Hurray, Tina!!!!! These are some of the very premises for my book, Recovery – A New Story, and also some of the basic building blocks of my coaching practice. When we change our thoughts, words, and actions so that they are all positive and powerful and support one another, then we can truly make changes in our lives that embrace us as the people we wish to become. Many people believe themselves to be quite positive, but their language is one of a victim. “I have to. I didn’t have any choice. It’s not my fault.” Kudos to you, my friend! Keep up the good work!.

  14. Thank you Tina for being exactly who you are unconventional! :)

  15. I just stumbled across your site and onto this post and I feel like it’s written for me. Thanks for writing it and for reminding me the importance of honesty especially to oneself!

  16. I find your article inspiring. I’ve never really realized how much i don’t really use my brain for what its really for. I need to think more often before i do or say something i might regret later. Thank you, Tina.

  17. Jess

    This was a great article and parallel with my readings on having a positive mental attitude and positive thinking. I am going to incorporate some of the phrases in my daily activities.

  18. This is the first time i read blog posting that really interesting. I never thought it before that words are so powerful. It will give commands to our unconscious mind without our notice. Thanks for sharing this. I want to change how i push out the words from my mouth become more positive.

  19. Wow… THAT is amazing… Mel was trying to tell me about the power of words. I guess the age old adage, “Sticks and stones will break my bones, but names will never hurt me…” doesn’t really hold much water.

    Thanks for this one..

    Matt

  20. bob

    Tina,

    This is all great advice. People say I am sorry way too often, even though it is not really meant. Use the phrase only when you have to use it. One reason people do not take apologies when you issue honestly, since it is used in just conversation.

  21. Jordan G

    i have been focusing on each of these subjects for some time now. trying to come up with alternative phrases to use has been difficult. i work at a grocery store and when ever i dont have an answer for someone i instantly respond with “im sorry” when i am not sorry at all. this is a great article. these tips will DEFINATELY help in my personal growth. thanks again

  22. Boney

    I have a cousin that is just the opposite. There is no way that he can get himself to say “I don’t know”. He doesn’t have a lot of knowledge(although he see’s himself as the wise elder) and I don’t see him getting any in the future.
    If you ask him a question and he doesn’t have an answer(which is most of the time), he will usually say “I assume bla bla bla”. I have explained to him that if you say “I assume” to everything, you have not left an option for yourself to aquire the answer. I said that if you admit that you don’t know an answer, then it is possible to seek it.
    I asked him today, “using an average of all quistions, on a scale between one and ten, with ten being more important, how important is it to be right”.
    His answer. I assume it would depends on the supject.
    Thanks for listening
    Guy

  23. treeshadow

    Hi Tina,

    Great article! Thank you for the reminder about the constant drilling of our everyday language into our subconscious minds.

    In my experience, I have often resorted to thinking and saying “I don’t know” especially when I am in a discussion with a group of peers who just have amazingly quick response (thought- and speech-wise) to any topics. By the end of the discussion, I would be left feeling extremely stupid for not knowing or having thought about the points brought up during the chat. However, the funny thing is that after the discussion, when I have more time on my own to think things through, I find that I would have come up with other points which would have been of quality contributions as those brought up by my peers.

    I agree with previous comments that admitting “I don’t know” is extremely humbling and will set the stage for learning (if only one is willing). Yet your point about resorting quickly to “I don’t know” without even giving things a second (or third!) thought does indeed cause more harm to our self-worth, as I had experienced personally.

    So, thank you for bringing this up and on my part, I’ll be changing that attitude of resorting to “let’s leave the thinking for the others since they are faster” ;)

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