Words Matter. Watch Your Mouth. It Will Determine Your Destiny.

Pastor Virgil Reed often spoke of the French Creole concept of lagniappe … a practice in Louisiana where a store clerk gives the customer “just a little bit more” than they paid for … some small gift that expressed appreciation for their business. And that “little bit more” made all the difference in creating more positive relationships.

Decades later, his daughter Naomi Reed Rhode wrote in her book, My Father’s Hand,

“Isn’t it interesting that the same thing is true in the negative sense! It’s the power of the little things, the seemingly insignificant acts, words, insinuations that can tear down, and destroy products, health, relationships, and institutions.”

So true. The little things matter.

And perhaps the littlest thing with the BIGGEST impact on your life is the words you use. Psychology tells us that “Words become frozen reality.” In other words, whether or not the words you tell yourself and others are true or not, they tend to stick around and become the “supposed” truth.

Even the Bible warns us, “The tongue can bring life or death.” They will enliven and empower you and others, or they will kill off almost everything going on inside of you and your relationships.

The fact is … you will NEVER rise above the words you use. That being the case, let me suggest these guidelines for bringing your words under control.

► 1. Eliminate the word “can’t” from your vocabulary.

Stop telling yourself that you can’t stick to a diet, lift more weight, save more money, can’t move up in your job, can’t improve your relationships, or communicate more effectively. Just stop it.

Take a lesson from Donna’s fourth grade class. She asked her students to fill out an entire page of things they couldn’t do. And the students wrote such things as: “I can’t kick the soccer ball past second base … I can’t do long division … and … I can’t get Debbie to like me.”

When they were all finished, Donna asked the students to place their “can’t” statements into an empty shoe box. She put the lid on the box, picked up a shovel from the custodian’s room, headed out the door, and asked her students to follow her. And they all began to dig a burial plot for their “cant’s.”

With that, Donna delivered her eulogy as thirty students got a lesson they never forgot. They said goodbye to the cant’s they used to say and started saying, “’I can” and “I will.”

During the rest of the school year, on that rare occasion when a student forgot and said, “I can’t,” Donna simply pointed to the RIP (Rest in Peace) sign hanging in the room. The student then remembered that “I Can’t” was dead and chose to rephrase the statement.

Well yes, it may sound silly. But it works. If you’re going to move forward in any part of your life, you’ve got to stop using the “can’t” word.

It’s one of the transformational skills people learn at my Journey-to-the-Extraordinary program. People learn how to change their negative words into positive affirmations, and the results are always exciting.

Megan Bentley, a dental sales representative, wrote

“Dr. Zimmerman, I attended your Journey course, and it CHANGED my life in such a positive manner. The tools you taught helped me achieve an eight-year goal. By using positive affirmations, I finally landed a spot on an ABC reality television show.

I just wanted to say thanks for your incredible Journey program, which led me to a personal journey with unbelievable results! During the entire filming of the show, I continued to go through my affirmations and positive thinking drills with my teammates! What fun! And what success! You’re truly the BEST!”


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► 2. Monitor your self-talk.

This point is so critical that I even tell people to write it down or print it and out and place it somewhere they will see it every day. Here goes:

Of all the communication you do, none is more important than how you talk to yourself. Your internal dialogue has more to do with your success in life than any other factor.

Organizations in general and my coaching clients in particular pay me lots of money to get that concept into their minds and out of their mouths. You just got it for free.

Of course you may be thinking I already knew that. Maybe so. But there’s a huge difference between knowing something and practicing something.

So let me ask you a question. Are you more like Statement A or Statement B?

Statement A: It’s easy for me to slip into negative thinking and talking, putting myself down … or doubting myself … much too often.

Statement B: I am self-confident and refrain from negative self-talk or negative talk in general. In fact, I’m quite good at using positive affirmations.

If you say you’re more like Statement A, please get to work on it. Change it around. Now. As the title of today’s Tuesday Tip puts it: Words Matter. Watch Your Mouth. It Will Determine Your Destiny.

I’ll even take it a step further. If you’re more like Statement A, it’s probably because you’re telling yourself something along the lines of the following poem. You’re reading it from the top down.


I’m very ugly

So don’t try to convince me that

I am a very beautiful person

Because at the end of the day

I hate myself in every single way

And I’m not going to lie to myself by saying

There is beauty inside of me that matters

So rest assured I will remind myself

That I am a worthless, terrible person

And nothing you say will make me believe

I still deserve love

Because no matter what

I am not good enough to be loved

And I am in no position to believe that

Beauty does exist within me

Because whenever I look in the mirror I always think

Am I as ugly as people say?

Now here’s the really cool part.

To get rid of your negative self-talk and to get more positive affirmations working for you, to become more like Statement B, READ THE ABOVE POEM FROM THE BOTTOM UP. It gives you a whole, new, refreshing, exciting outlook on yourself … all because of the words you use.

That’s my Christmas present to you.