10 Self-Sabotaging Words and 10 Alternatives

chalkboard with negative and positive in captions

Words are powerful. They can be the difference between reaching our goals or sabotaging them.

Alongside that, there’s the impact they have on our bodies. Our bodies respond to energy and vibration. Words contain energy and vibration. So, when we use words that feel heavy in our bodies we feel that heavy energy around our goals too.

With that in mind, in this article are self-sabotaging words (and one phrase) and their lighter-energy alternatives. Replacing these words allows you to stay focused on your goals.

  1. Should

Alternative Word: Could

Should, implies that there will be negative consequences if you don’t do the thing you associate it with. It also has a very wishy-washy vibration. So not only does it encourage fear of consequences, but it doesn’t inspire you.

Could, on the other hand, has open energy. It allows the mind to meander. It gives you options. It cultivates inspired thinking.

  1. Must

Alternative Word: Want

Must do. Must have. Must be. Can you feel the judgment there? If you don’t do what you must do that is a catalyst for falling into self-judgment. Its vibration is sharp and final.

I want to, allows you to choose, to take ownership. “I’m doing this because I want to” puts you in control. It also allows you to feel like the captain of your own ship.

  1. Failed

Alternative Word: Opportunity

I failed.

Just leaving it on its own like that tells you everything you need to know about using this word. It has life-draining energy to it. Imagine then what it feels like to the body.

Opportunity implies that there will be other opportunities to come. It implies that you’ve learned how not to do something. You’ve also learned that you were willing to try.

  1. Can’t

Alternative Word: Wonder

Can’t has a very similar energy to ‘failed.’ What it’s really saying is I don’t know how to do this right now but it doesn’t have as much finality to it.

I wonder has the energy of exploration. It has spacious energy. It’s the language of explorers and visionaries. “I wonder if this might work? I wonder how this could work?” Feel the difference?

  1. This Always Happens

Alternative Word: Choose

“This Always Happens” isn’t a word, it’s a phrase, but phrases are just words strung together. When things go wrong, this phrase shuts down the possibility of a different outcome. Its subtext is, what’s the point of even trying?

“I choose differently,” lets you know you have the power to choose. It may require you to make changes in how you approach things, but you are the one making those changes. It has an empowering vibration.

  1. Disaster

Alternative Phrase: There’s A Lesson Here

This word is used when things go very wrong. It has a disempowered energy to it. In that energy, you close off any positive interpretations or outcomes.

“There’s a lesson here,” puts you back in the driver’s seat. You get to discover what that lesson might be. It allows you to feel heavier emotions at that moment with the added possibility that something healing can emerge.

  1. Difficult

Alternative Word: Practice

“This is difficult” is a factual enough statement. But put the word ‘to’’ in front of it and you’re in the energy of ‘I can’t.’ Too difficult, suggests that you cannot transcend the difficulty. That’s heavy energy to carry.

Practice implies repetition. You might have to return to the child’s mind to try and try again. There’s also the option of allowing someone else to help you with the situation or activity to accelerate your learning.

  1. Impossible

Alternative Words: Possibility or I’m Possible

If something is impossible, why even try? It shuts your energy down completely Which is not very helpful when you’re trying to achieve a specific goal.

Possibility, however, has options galore attached to it. It causes you to think bigger and broader. It engages your lateral rather than your literal mind. Your body likes the energies of possibilities and options.

  1. Guilty

Alternative Word: Remorse

Feeling guilty may seem like a positive thing when we feel we’ve done something wrong. Yet, guilt is an emotion that sticks to us. It doesn’t allow us to heal or move forward. We are guilty that’s all there is to it.

Remorse lets you know that you have acknowledged your wrongdoing but now you want to do better. You have seen the situation clearly and owned your part in it, now you want to make amends.

  1. Ashamed

Alternative Word: Ownership

Feeling ashamed is similar to guilt. It feels like something that will live with you for the rest of your life. Its intention is good, but it doesn’t empower you, or if there is another person involved it doesn’t empower them either.

Taking ownership has a much more powerful energy to it. It speaks volumes. It causes you to act differently. It allows you to see how you can now do things differently. You’re not running away from your actions or hiding from the consequences of them either. Instead, you’re facing up to things. You’re looking at them without distortion. You’re owning them.

Apply the replacements to the original self-sabotaging words in your current life circumstances or your desired goals.

Feel the difference in their energy. See how the alternative words open up new possibilities and options for you. See how they empower you to pursue your goals or heal challenging life circumstances.

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– The Wellness Universe

*Originally published on February 19, 2019.


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