So often, people feel powerless. There are actions you’d like to take but you don’t. There are possibilities you feel excited about but they fizzle out. There are passions you’d like to pursue but they’re overly perplexing. So what can you do?

Let’s begin with what is easy — your words. Yes, what you say to yourself can have a huge effect on how you feel and what you do. Here are 5 easy ways to change your speech patterns to become a more empowered you.

    Linda Sapadin, Ph.D    Linda Sapadin, Ph.D is a psychologist and success coach who specializes in helping people overcome self-defeating patterns of behavior, particularly debilitating fear and chronic procrastination. She is the author of 6 self-help books that have been published in 6 countries. Dr. Sapadin has been honored with “Fellow” status by the American Psychological Association, an indication that her work has an international impact on the field of psychology. 



Editor:  Talha Khalid

  1. Reduce the use of qualifiers in your speech.

Qualifiers are words like, “maybe,” “perhaps,” “sort of,” “try to.” They are used to make tentative statements — ones that dodge firm commitments. Speak more affirmatively. Instead of saying, “Maybe I’ll get tickets for a concert,” declare your intentions by saying, “I will get tickets for a concert.”

To increase your effectiveness, add a definite time-line, “I will get the tickets today, after work.” Put the kibosh on slippery statements like, “I’ll try to get to the gym this week.” Be precise by saying, “I will get to the gym three days every week.”

  1. Change “I can’t” sentences to “BUT one thing I can do is…”

The phrase “I can’t…” (i.e., “I can’t quit my job now”) may leave you feeling hopeless. No choice, no power, no options; you’re screwed! Instead of staying in this powerless position, shift the focus from what you can’t do to what you can do. For example, you might say, “I can’t quit my job now, BUT one thing I can do is to speak to a head-hunter to explore future possibilities.” Avoid ending your sentence on a pessimistic note. Aim for an upbeat note that motivates you to take action and build personal power.

  1. Change “I don’t know” sentences to “BUT one thing I do know is…”

Sentences that end with “I don’t know” are often used to avoid confronting a tough situation. Though this may seem like a good idea (what me worry?), the downside is — you can’t find solutions for what you don’t directly address. To become more empowered, challenge yourself to explore what you do know. Instead of despondently saying, “I don’t know why I stay in this awful relationship,” say something like, “… but one thing I do know is that I’m afraid to be alone.”

Does this solve your problem? No, it does not. Does it create the likelihood that owning up to the ‘real’ problem might guide you toward a solution? Yes, it most certainly does.

  1. Answer “what if?” questions.

“What if?” questions that remain unanswered justify your lack of empowerment. Suppose, for example, that you delay booking a long-overdue vacation, explaining your shirking behavior by saying, “What if I’m tied down with work at that time?” Allowing this statement to remain unanswered reinforces your worries. So, use an alternative approach.

Sure, you’re frustrated about so much work. Inspiration, however, is often born from frustration. So, get inspired. Figure out your options. Here are a few possibilities: Put more energy into your work now so that your schedule will be less encumbered later. Work while you’re on vacation (hopefully, not excessively). See what work you can delegate to others.

  1. End “I’m waiting…” sentences with “meanwhile, I’m doing…”

Waiting for something to happen can make you feel powerless. “I’m waiting to find out what my friend is doing;” “I’m waiting until I have more money.” Don’t let “waiting” statements linger around without adding a “meanwhile I’m doing” clause. “I’m waiting to find out what my friend is doing; meanwhile, I’m developing alternative plans for the weekend.” “I’m waiting till I have more money to make major improvements; meanwhile I’m painting my bedroom.” Notice how “meanwhile I’m doing” statements are action-oriented while “waiting” statements are passive (ho-hum). Why wait and worry when your life can be more exciting and empowered?

Yes what you say to yourself — and others — can deeply influence your sense of empowerment. So post these 5 simple steps on your mirror to remind you of how you can live a more empowered, easier life.