This Little Language Hack will Empower You

by | Feb 12, 2019 | Personal Growth

If you never do .jpeg

As a former Literature and Language teacher, I have a deep and enduring love of words.

I can spend hours rewording sentences, reorganizing ideas, and finding just the right connotation, rhyme or rhythm to make words come alive on a page.

It’s no wonder then, I suppose, that I’ve studied and taught speech, debate, improv, couples communication, assertive communication and nonviolent communication over the years.

Relentlessly in pursuit of the right word, in the right place, in the right time.

Language fascinates me.

More than that, however, it’s the underlying creative forces vibrating through the words themselves that have me captivated.

The words we use – first inside our own minds, and then out in the spaces between ourselves and others – reflect, influence and create our reality.

Our language patterns hold critical keys to our inner awakening. Changing the words we use, directly impacts reality.

The words I use to habitually define myself and the world, also create it.

The language we use reveals how we think, how we perceive and what we pay attention to.

When I tell you not to think about a floating purple hedgehog in a zero gravity chamber, what are you thinking about?

See? Powerful.

I can use language to disempower myself and others, and I can use language to empower myself and others.

I can use language to shine a light on truth, or to obscure it and muddy clarity.

One little trick that can support you in moving out of a victim consciousness and into a more compassionate and self-empowered stance, is to give up the word “Try.”

This insidious little word – while I looks oh so well-intentioned – simply breeds doubt.

Snow doesn’t try to fall. Snow falls.

Water doesn’t try to boil. Water boils.

Birds don’t try to fly. Birds fly.

Only humans try.

When you say that you will “try to come” or “try to get the homework done,” or, “try to review the material” you have just injected oodles of doubt and hesitation into your own reality.

What would it be like to claim your choices and your actions with confidence?

I’ll be there. 

I am coming.

I reviewed the notes.

Speak with commitment about the things that matter to you, and get better about saying what you don’t want to do – directly. 

Saying that I will “try” to do something, often carries an undertone of vacillation, uncertainty, inner conflict. 

Saying I will “try,” is often a cue to me that I don’t really want to … that I am internally conflicted about this thing. 

Saying I will “try” can sometimes come from the part of me that wants to make someone else happy, but isn’t in alignment with my own inner truth. 

When I say I will “try” it sometimes means that I am pretending to want something that I don’t really want. 

Slow down.

When you stop yourself from saying you’ll “try” … what deeper, clearer truth emerges into that space?

Say that instead.

Feel into the difference between these sentences:

I’m tryyyying to save money this month.
I’m saving money this month.

I’m tryyyying to launch a new project.
I’m launching this new project.

I’m tryyyying to communicate better.
I’m communicating better.

I’m tryyyying to detox my body.
My body is detoxing.

I’m tryyyyying to give up alcohol.
I don’t drink alcohol.

When you remove “try,” you fill up with more commitment, more confidence, more agency.

Make a commitment to speak with more clarity and more strength. Your inner being will be invited into a far more self-empowered and clear inner stance.

Discipline your attention and energy away from all your intentions and your trying, and focus them more fully on what you are doing, and not doing.

Or, said more simply in the words of the infamous Yoda: “Do or do not. There is no try.”

I’d love to hear from you …

What words do you avoid using? Or make a point of using with abandon? What language hacks have helped you switch out of one way of thinking and perceiving and into another? Leave a comment below, and let me know 🙂


  1. David McCain

    Hey Yvette:

    I’m an NVC Trainer on the Certificate Path in Flagstaff (Upstate, snowy), AZ. I found you through a google alert late last year and I’m appreciating your newsletter. I really like the "clean and clear" visual appearance and the clarity of your messages. I have a deep longing to keep growing and learning from others using NVC to change the world 🙂

    I’m with you on the difference between "try" and "do" and much appreciate your clarity on that difference. And, especially regarding meetings and actions that will take place later, I prefer to use "intend" rather than "do" to honor my awareness that I only have control of my intentions in the moment, not my future actions. So I prefer to say, "I intend to be there tomorrow for our meeting" rather than,"I will be there tomorrow for our meeting" (I prefer both to saying, "I will try to be there tomorrow for our meeting.") This language makes it clear to me (and to the listener) that I only have power over my intentions in the moment, I don’t control what will happen to me tomorrow. I’m curious what comes up in you after reading this distinction.

    I’m also a big fan of other NVC-related language alterations:

    ♥ "have-to" –> "choose to"
    ♥ "but" –> "and, at the same time,"
    ♥ "should", "ought" –> "would like"
    ♥"no" –> expressing the need keeping me from saying "yes"
    ♥ "can’t" –> "not yet"

    Thanks, again, for all you do!


    Dave McCain

    • Yvette Erasmus

      Hi Dave,

      Lovely to "meet" you … I so enjoyed your ideas and completely resonate with the invitation to ground in intention and reframe that list of words — I have been wanting to write up a series of language hacks and you have a good number on my list on here already! Awesomeness. I’m sure you’ll see some of these coming up in future postings!

      I love Flagstaff – jealous. I lived in Tuscon for a short while and have been to Flagstaff multiple times. I browsed around your website: thanks for sharing it and love the work you are doing – appreciated having a way to get to know you a little from afar.

      Thank you so much for taking the time to comment and say hello, and good luck with your certification journey – I hope it yields richness for you in many ways! As I am sure you have noticed, I am not a certified trainer and instead simply integrate NVC and nonviolent consciousness into my primary work as a psychologist, teacher and writer …

      Lovely to be in touch 🙂 If you and Katie are ever up here in the Midwest, do get in touch and say hello 🙂



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