The One Word to Eliminate from Your Life

Don’t fail.   

Don’t get upset.  

Don’t lose.  

Don’t strike out.  

Don’t worry.  

Don’t mess up.

Do any of these phrases sound familiar? Does one or more of them go through your head on a regular basis? Then I want to tell you how the very simple, and very common, word “don’t” actually creates the opposite of what we want in life. Once you understand this concept, you can use it to create success instead of failure whether you are working, going to school, or raising a family.   

Remember that we have said that it is your subconscious mind that is really in charge of your behavior, relationships, and life choices. It contains information about everything you have ever done, seen and heard, along with beliefs and programs that you downloaded early in life from your parents, family, and educators.  It is your subconscious mind that really runs the show. And your subconscious mind registers and understands the external world very differently than your conscious mind. In a nutshell, your subconscious mind does not comprehend negative statements. This is because it understands and thinks in pictures. Let’s take the example of me telling you NOT to think about a pink giraffe. What just happened internally? You thought of a pink giraffe. This is because in order to understand the statement “Don’t think of a pink giraffe”, your subconscious mind had to create the image. Because there is really no picture for the word “don’t”, it could not comprehend it, and it never registered on the subconscious level. Now that you know the key concept, do you think you can beat it? Then please do not think about a purple sea.  What just happened?  Thought so.

This concept is so important to grasp because your body will automatically respond to the image in your subconscious mind. If you go back to the words at the beginning of this blog, you can now see that the statement “Don’t fail” gets interpreted subconsciously as “Fail”. If you are playing baseball and say to yourself “Don’t strike out!”, your subconscious mind creates the image of striking out and your body follows those instructions. Parents, have you ever told your child “Don’t spill your milk!” at the dinner table?  What did you quickly program her to do? That’s right, her little brain created the picture of spilling the milk, her muscles obeyed, and there went the milk all over the table. How many times have we told ourselves or our loved ones not to worry, don’t get upset, don’t be late, don’t screw this one up, don’t interrupt, don’t get sick, don’t be rude, don’t slouch, or don’t make a scene? How about “Don’t drink and drive”? Wow! Can changing the way we communicate really make that much of a difference? Yes, it can.

The change that will make all the difference is to use positive statements instead of negative ones. If you are at bat, tell yourself that you are going to hit a home run. If you are presenting at a critical business meeting, tell yourself that you will deliver the presentation smoothly and that it will be well received. If your little girl has those little hands on a big glass of milk, say, “Honey, hold that glass really tight!”. If you are a teacher giving a test, tell your students to relax, remember everything they have studied, and to visualize themselves getting the grade they want. If you are a coach, tell your players to sit down, relax, and visualize playing their game perfectly. If you are the parent of a teenager going to a party, tell him to have a good time and be safe.

By saying and thinking only positive images, we program our subconscious for success. I will leave you with a quote that hangs in my office:

Watch your thoughts,

They become words.

Watch your words,

They become actions.

Watch your actions,

They become habits.

Watch your habits,

They become character.

Watch your character,

for it becomes your destiny.

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