What we say matters. Especially what we say to ourselves. Whether speaking out loud or speaking internally to ourselves, if we choose our words without care, we’re likely to end all our good intentions. That’s especially true when trying to break bad habits and you haven’t even started yet.

You can change that with the use of one single word.

That magical word is a contraction, commonly used, and has more power than your entire vocabulary when used correctly. What is it?


‘Don’t’ is one of those funny words that takes back control of ourselves in a single syllable. How? Think about these examples:

“I don’t smoke.”

“I don’t bite my nails.”

“I don’t use social media.”

Now contrast them with the phrases you’ve likely been using since you’ve been trying to break those selfsame habits.

“I can’t smoke.”

“I can’t bite my nails.”

“I can’t use social media.”

“Can’t” hits us psychologically right between the eyes. When we’re using it, we’re saying that this is something we’d like to do, but that something is restricting us from being able to do it. It doesn’t even matter that the thing that is restricting us is…well…us. The fact that we’re still using the word “Can’t” means we haven’t given that up yet.

“Don’t” holds all the power. When we say “Don’t” we’re saying that we CHOOSE for ourselves to not do that action. That this is something that we wouldn’t want to do even if we could.

See the difference?

Now that’s all well and good when talking to your friends, but what about when talking to yourself?

When we examine our thoughts and feelings about things, we have to watch our terminology there too, every bit as much (if not more) than we would when talking to others. After all, our habits are deep-seated things, most of them wired unconsciously in our brains. So it’s there we have to change our language.

“I don’t eat sugar.”

“I don’t waste money buying things I don’t even want or need.”

“I don’t indulge in pointless arguments on the internet.”

When we can finally internalize these phrases, they become our choice. They become what we WANT. And believe it or not, that affects your chances for success. This theory is backed up by studies that conclusively show  that people who use the word “don’t” are 50% more likely to stick with changes they’re trying to make (to end bad habits and create good ones) than people who are still stuck over in the land of “can’t.”

So what does this mean to you?

If you want to change your life, you’re first going to need to change your dialogue. After that, the rest is easy.

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