Bonus Video: Toxic Vocabulary

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Toxic Vocabulary By Bart Baggett


I remember my dad teaching me the power of language at a very young age. 

Not only did my dad understand that specific words affect our mental pictures, 

but he understood words are a powerful programming factor in lifelong success.

One particularly interesting event occurred when

I was eight. As a kid, I was always climbing trees,

poles, and literally hanging around upside down

from the rafters of our lake house. So, it came as

no surprise to my dad to find me at the top of a

30-foot tree, swinging back and forth. My little

eight-year-old brain didn't realize the tree could

break or I could get hurt. I just thought it was fun

to be up so high.

My older cousin, Tammy, was also in the same

tree. She was hanging on the first big limb, about

ten feet below me. Tammy's mother also noticed

us at the exact same time my dad did. About that

time a huge gust of wind came over the tree. I could

hear the leaves start to rattle and the tree begin to

sway. I remember my dad's voice over the wind

yell, "Bart, Hold on tightly." So I did. The next thing

I know, I heard Tammy screaming at the top of

her lungs, laying flat on the ground. She had fallen

out of the tree.

I scampered down the tree to safety. My dad later

told me why she fell and I did not. Apparently,

Tammy's mother was not as an astute student of

language as my father. When Tammy's mother felt

the gust of wind, she yelled out, "Tammy, don't fall!"

And Tammy did... fall.

My dad then explained to me that the mind has a

very difficult time processing a negative image. In

fact, people who rely on internal pictures cannot

see a negative at all. In order for Tammy to process

the command of not falling, her nine-year-old brain

had to first imagine falling, then try to tell the brain

not to do what it just imagined. Whereas, my

eight-year-old brain instantly had an internal image

of me hanging on tightly.

This is why people who try to stop smoking struggle

with the ct of stopping smoking. They are running

pictures all day of themselves smoking. Smokers are

rarely taught to see themselves breathing fresh air

and feeling great. The language itself becomes one

barrier to success.

This concept is especially useful when you are

attempting to break a habit or set a goal. You can't

visualize not doing something. The only way to

properly visualize not doing something is to actually

find a word for what you want to do and visualize

that. For example, when I was thirteen years old, I

played for my junior high school football team. I

tried so hard to be good, but I just couldn't get it

together at that age. I remember hearing the words

run through my head as I was running out for a

pass, "Don't drop it!" Naturally, I dropped the ball.

My coaches were not skilled enough to teach us

proper "self-talk." They just thought some kids could

catch and others couldn't. I'll never make it pro, but I'm

now a pretty good Sunday afternoon football player,

because all my internal dialogue is positive and

encourages me to win. I wish my dad had coached me

playing football instead of just climbing trees. I might

have had a longer football career.

Here is a very easy demonstration to teach your kids

and your friends the power of a toxic vocabulary.

Ask them to hold a pen or pencil. Hand it to them.

Now, follow my instructions carefully. Say to them,

"Okay, try to drop the pencil." Observe what they do.

Most people release their hands and watch the pencil

hit the floor. You respond, "You weren't paying

attention. I said TRY to drop the pencil. Now please

do it again." Most people then pick up the pencil and

pretend to be in excruciating pain while their hand tries

but fails to drop the pencil.

The point is made.

If you tell your brain you will "give it a try," you are

actually telling your brain to fail. I have a "no try" rule in

my house and with everyone I interact with. Either

people will do it or they won't. Either they will be at

the party or they won't. I'm brutal when people

attempt to lie to me by using the word try. Do they

think I don't know they are really telegraphing to the

world they have no intention of doing it but they want

me to give them brownie points for pretended effort?

You will never hear the words "I'll try" come out of

my mouth unless I'm teaching this concept in a seminar.

If you "try" and do something, your unconscious mind

has permission not to succeed. If I truly can't make a

decision I will tell the truth. "Sorry John. I'm not sure

if I will be at your party or not. I've got an outstanding

commitment. If that falls through, I will be here.

Otherwise, I will not. Thanks for the invite."

People respect honesty. So remove the word "try"

from your vocabulary. My dad also told me that

psychologists claim it takes seventeen positive

statements to offset one negative statement. I have

no idea if it is true, but the logic holds true. It might

take up to seventeen compliments to offset the

emotional damage of one harsh criticism.

These are concepts that are especially useful when

raising children. Ask yourself how many compliments

you give yourself daily versus how many criticisms.

Heck, I know you are talking to yourself all day long.

We all have internal voices that give us direction.

So, are you giving yourself the 17:1 ratio or are you

shortchanging yourself with toxic self-talk like, "I suck.

I'm fat. Nobody will like me. I'll try this diet. I'm not

good enough. I'm so stupid. I'm broke, etc. etc."

If our parents can set a lifetime of programming with

one wrong statement, imagine the kind of programming

you are doing on a daily basis with your own internal

dialogue. Here is a list of Toxic Vocabulary words.

Notice when you or other people use them.

FEATURE STORY : *Rated Best Article This Year *

Toxic Vocabulary By Bart Baggett







Would Have

Should Have

Could Have




But - negates any words that are stated before it.

If - presupposes that you may not.

Would have - past tense that draws attention to

things that didn't actually happen.

Should have - past tense that draws attention to

things that didn't actually happen (and implies guilt.)

Could have - past tense that draws attention to

things that didn't actually happen but the person

tries to take credit as if it did happen.

Try - presupposes failure.

Might - It does nothing definite. It leaves options

for your listener.

Can't / Don't - These words force the listener

to focus on exactly the opposite of what you

want. This is a classic mistake that parents and

coaches make without knowing the damage of

this linguistic error.


Toxic phrase: "Don't drop the ball!"

Likely result: Drops the ball

Better language: "Catch the ball!"

Toxic phrase: "You shouldn't watch so

much television."

Likely result: Watches more television.

Better language: "I read too much television

makes people stupid. You might find yourself turning

that TV off and picking up one of those books more


Exercise: Take a moment to write down

all the phrases you use on a daily basis or any Toxic

self-talk that you have noticed yourself using. Write

these phrases down so you will begin to catch yourself

as they occur and change them.

Toxic PhraseRe-written Phrase

-------------- End of chapter excerpt -------------------

This chapter is an excerpt from "The Success Secrets of

the Rich & Happy," 435 page self-improvement book

relating to wealth and emotional prosperity.

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