by Bobbe White
Start with the worst first, shall we? Pretend these words are dysfunctional family members or friends in your home for dinner, seated around the table to upset our calm and confidence.
#1 Should is a dumb word. As in, “You should go visit your mother.” It’s worse when, ‘really’ is used too, “You REALLY should go visit your mother.” Stop it.
#2 Have has to go. Period. We’re told, “You have to do this; have to do that.” Our inner brat cranks up to retort, “I don’t HAVE to do anything.” And I don’t and won’t. Have is not welcome here. If you’re in customer service, the same goes for what you tell a customer he or she has to do.
#3 Should have Who invited this couple? My favorite, “I should’ve gone to the funeral visitation.” For some reason, you didn’t go. Not to be irreverent, but visitations are one-and-done; no do-overs. Stop beating yourself up when nothing can take you back in time. I’m curious, are the bereaved cognizant of your absence during visitation? Surely, not. (However, I do know people with a mental scorecard, doing their ‘check-off’. Another one is, “You should’ve come with us to the concert! Nice, huh? Stab my heart again.
# 4 Don’t. We’ve heard, “don’t” since we donned diapers: “Don’t do this! Don’t do that,” and the combo, “Don’t EVER do that again.” Excuse me, is that a threat? Don’t EVER tell me “don’t” again. I’m 60, not 6.
#5 Ought is Should’s kissin’ cousin. The word looks like it’s missing letters. Like bad teeth on Cousin Eddie. When you think, “I ought to do….”, don’t ought to do it, DO IT, if you can’t stop thinking about it.
#6 Didn’t you realize…? When something goes wrong, we’re asked if we realized such and such would happen, it prompts this reply, “Hey, if I’d realized it beforehand, would I have done it?” We feel bad enough. Stop pouring salt in that wound. Unless of course, if you did realize a possible outcome, and did it on purpose, you may be passive aggressive. And that is another blog post.
# 7 & #8 Wouldn’t /Couldn’t Another unwelcome table guest, which should be banned from our conversations. “Couldn’t you help me, just this once?” Move on, Martyr. Or, “Wouldn’t it make more sense to do it this way?” Yes, it might. Sounds better when phrased, “Let’s try it this way.”
#9 Absolutes. This is the “3 for 1” toxic offer. Never, Always & Ever, because nothing ever is always one way. Never, ever, ever. Lose these three.
#10 Guilt is not a toxic word, but is the babe and by-product of the above nine dinner guests. Guilt’s the guest who is a travel agent. She’s a frequent flier, inflicting guilt at every chance. If someone at your proverbial dinner table acts like a travel agent, sending you on guilt trip after guilt trip, send her packing!
Thanks to these ten toxic words, we question our decisions, actions and ideas, many of which were made with our best intentions, only to be undone by someone who thinks he or she knows better. No thanks. These words are harmful enough when said to us by others. They’re even more toxic when said in our heads. Confidence is making decisions and feeling good about them. If we let others knock us down with words, or insinuation, our confidence is destroyed. Does it make sense how words can be a lot like toxic friends or family members? Don’t tear yourself -or others-down with words.
Wouldn’t it be fun at future friends/family dinners, if the dog sitting under the table at our feet, could bite the ankles of people who make others feel crummy with toxic words? Grrrrrrrrrrrr! I love the idea.