Posted by Trevor on 19 June 2013 | 26 Comments

images-1A lot of the emails I receive betray the sender by the language they use. Someone might be telling me about use of quiet time and then comment that he or she will ”hopefully” make it habitual. That means they won’t.  Today someone used the word “possibly” many times in the same paragraph.  Again, it betrays what they really think.

Because words trigger thoughts these words do not help anyone wanting to change their situation for the better. It seems churlish to point this out in an email reply so I thought it would be useful to remind us all of a few commonly used words and phrases that have to be eliminated from our vocabularies.


“If” means deep down you are certain it will never happen for you.

If I were rich I would… =  WHEN I am rich I will…

If I owned this company I would… =  When I am my own boss…

If only… =  It will be great when…


Using “when” might seem odd or uncomfortable at first, but eventually it becomes a habit. I recall many years ago walking on a beach with a friend and admiring the multi-million dollar homes around the cove. For me it was window shopping and then I said ‘When I own a beach house like that…” My friend stopped walking and made a comment about how remarkable it was that I could be so sure of my future success. A few years earlier I might have been embarrassed, but I was so used to switching the “if” for the “when” that I had rewired my neurons to the point that I had certainty about it.


“I Can’t,” “I doubt,” “possibly,” “hopefully,” “I wish,” “God willing…” are the sort of words that trigger thoughts and images of near misses and failures. Those thoughts return to you (they have your blueprint) to provide a life of hope and possibilities. You want neither. Hoping for success is not success.


I can’t stand it when = I prefer it when…

I can’t understand why = I’d like to understand …

I’m thinking of possibly starting my own company = When I start…

Hopefully, I’ll be able to afford it one day = When I can afford it…

“I wish she wouldn’t speak to me like that = I prefer to… I choose…



“Hate,” is a word that is always accompanied by strong emotions. As both  words and emotions are triggered by neuro-chemical reactions, the amount of energy in the word when it is sent out as a thought is larger. We all slip up using this word and the trick is to immediately counter it with a thought of something you really want.


I hate it when = I would rather/I prefer/I’m looking forward to…

I hate Manchester United = There is no alternative positive. This in an acceptable statement to be repeated by everyone.

I can’t stand being in debt all the time… When I am debt free…

It does my head in when he… It would be better if…


Ailments: We can keep ourselves in a lot of pain with the words we use. We can also cause pain in others when we choose to phrase things negatively. Recall the mirror neurons in our brains do not need to experience the same event to empathize with it. Last year I watched a male professional tennis player get smacked in a sensitive part of the body with a tennis ball served at 100 miles an hour, and twenty thousand spectators all groaned as one. It was an hilarious moment except for the tennis player who was lying in a fetal position on the court. One spectator shouted out “New balls, please.”


Fear of illness and speaking that way can cause the very thing we fear. A good example is the story of Anita Moorjani “Dying to be Me,” in which her fear of cancer (after family and friends died of it) brought on her own demise. When she was given the choice to die or live fearlessly and chose the latter her cancer disappeared.


I’m tired = I could use more energy

My pain is wearing me down = when I no longer feel this pain I will

Not bad = fantastic

Oh my aching back = Oh to have a young man’s back again



Weather: everyone’s favorite topic. When I lived in Minneapolis it was just about the only topic of conversation. It is always a downward energy spiral  even when the weather is good, and it can ruin a positive atmosphere in a heartbeat. I used to hold weekly conference calls with investors and while attendees were waiting for everyone to call in, the topic was always the weather… too hot, too rainy, fear of hurricane and so on. By the time all the attendees were connected the energy of the participants had dropped noticeably.  I would always have a short anecdote or joke up my sleeve and before introducing the call throw it out to get everyone laughing. It was the only way to counter quickly the downward spiral. Best tip is to shut it off at source:


This weather sucks = I like all weathers especially extremes. Great excuse for cuddling up with a book/film. Read any good books lately/seen any great films this year?


Just a few tips. If you make them a habit, you will begin to develop the tendency to eliminate other negative statements and replace them with phrases that are to your benefit. Maybe you have some other examples and suggestions? Please comment freely on the blog as every comment has the possibility of reaching someone somewhere who needs that advice just at that moment. People taking control of their destiny are in the minority and it can be a lonely undertaking. So all helping hands are welcomed.

Cheers. Trev


  1. Gina Citoli says:

    Very well put!!! Blessings Gina

  2. Jean says:

    This is an excellent post. Living in The Netherlands, being negative about the weather seems to come natural. But I do love the seasons, it is never boring. Also it is something that no one has any influence on, so why bother spending any energy on it at all.
    As the great philosopher Billy Connolly said :P: “There’s no such thing as bad weather, just the wrong clothing, so get yourself a sexy raincoat and live a little.”.
    And while I’m at it, let me close off with another one of his classics: “Never trust a man who, when left alone in the room with a tea cozy, doesn’t try it on.”

  3. Jean says:

    This is an excellent post. Living in The Netherlands, being negative about the weather seems to come natural. But I do love the seasons, it is never boring. Also it is something that no one has any influence on, so why bother spending any energy on it at all.
    As the great philosopher Billy Connolly said :P: “There’s no such thing as bad weather, just the wrong clothing, so get yourself a sexy raincoat and live a little.”.
    And while I’m at it, let me close off with another one of his classics: “Never trust a man who, when left alone in the room with a tea cozy, doesn’t try it on.”

    (not sure if my post went through alright)

  4. Justin says:

    Love the article! The phrase I get tripped up on is “worst case”. I use it when I am reviewing a decision and I always feel the need to announce the best case and worse case scenario to my wife when we are speaking about the opportunity. Having her point out each time I use the phrase has helped me reduce the use and I believe a substitution phrase would help even more. Any substitution phrases you can suggest would be appreciated. Until then, I’ll start a list of my own.


  5. Norman says:

    A really good post with lots of examples of how I can change the way I think. The fact that I can use most of them just shows how much negativity has become habitual. Still it’s early days using this system, but I’m already seeing a difference.

    I have to say that the best part of the post was the comment on Man Utd. That made me laugh and has set me up for a great day! I grew up in Middlesbrough (NE England) in the 60’s and 70’s and it seemed that they always knocked us out of the FA Cup. It was probably only a couple of times really, but I’ve never forgiven them.

    “I hate Manchester United” Brilliant! I’m going to be chuckling all day now.

    Thanks for that,

  6. Ben says:

    One comment that resonated with me in your book which resounded with me “Misery loves company’. When people make negative comments at me, I use this line mentally to trip me into looking on the positive side of their comments, and make a positive reply. I am improving.
    Better for me to use something more positive along the line of thinking like –
    1. ‘winners are grinners’ or
    2. “Winners have parties, losers have meetings”
    The second attributed to a TV Executive in Australia (Sam Chisholm )
    Maybe getting a bit off topic by now
    Cheers !

  7. Bart says:

    Language, especially spoken, language is like a one way road. If chosen well, it will bring you inevitable to the most extraordinary and beautiful places in live.

    You stil have to work a bit on the soccer thing Trevor 😉

  8. Asheaven says:

    I can really relate to improving our semantics and affecting our thoughts as a result. You’re gonna love what I’m about to share!

    Years ago when I went through cancer and then recovered it occurred to that it was time to stop using the phrase, “I’m dying to see that film,” or” I’m dying to meet her”. Because I was so close to death and came through everything inside me told me it was time to change that false premise. Now it’s so natural to me to evoke what I want.

    Since then I kindly nudge others to say, “I’m living to get a massage from her”, or “I’m living to eat at the restaurant”. It’s funny how people laugh and say oh yes, you’re so right!

    Have a joyous day!

  9. Giancarlo says:

    Dear Trevor, i’m grateful i read this post. I felt an urge to look at your website today for the first time. One month ago i read two books from the library, three simple steps and “dying to be me”. And when you mentioned anita’s story, it touched me as if you were talking to me.
    I have always used negative words and this has hurt my life, to the point that i realize how miserable i really am. I have directed my negativity and anger to hurt my life and the feelings of others. I had this awakening since many months ago and it’s been a struggle to control my mind. I realized my mistakes and i’m no longer angry at people. I am kind and compassionate and i talk to people to help guide me to be a better person.
    Trevor, could you email me or talk toto me?
    Kind regards, Giancarlo

  10. Magnus says:

    I have a tendency of using “ifs” instead of “when” for my projects. I will only use “when” for those that I actually want to go ahead with.

    Best regards,

  11. marjo johne says:

    True words of wisdom that I now practise everyday, among the other positive habits I picked up after reading your book.

    But funny how the thing I’ll remember most about this post will be: “I hate Manchester United = There is no alternative positive. This in an acceptable statement to be repeated by everyone.”

    You sly dog — just had to sneak that in there, didn’t you? 🙂

  12. Richard says:

    I’m still unsure about how to use the mental shield. Can you please elaborate?
    Thank you

    • Trevor says:

      Richard, most people think their body is solid because our brain interprets it that way. We are made up of seven layers of subtle energies vibrating at different frequencies. Just as water feels hard to steam and ice feels hard to water, yet all three are the same just vibrating at different frequencies. Speed up the vibration of ice and it becomes water. Keep speeding up the vibration of molecules and it becomes steam etc. With the mentality shield we imagine (imagination is thought which is an energy transferred from neurochemical reactions) an extra outer layer that protects us from any external hostility whether it be words, thoughts, or even germs. Imagine putting it on or switching it on and that anything not to your personal benefit (which would be traveling at a slower vibration) gets crushed on impact and anything to your benefit has the vibratory speed to penetrate). If this all sounds and feels weird study the science of color. Color is light. Light is just electromagnetic vibration. Black means the surface absorbs all frequencies. White means no color penetrates. The mentality shield works the same way as a selective surface.

  13. Ed Latson says:

    Hello! Just over 13 years ago my wife, and business partner, and I were thoroughly enjoying wonderful successes with our design/ build building business. Of course we had endured almost insufferable financial losses in the early years (started the biz in 1980); personnel problems and the problems at home with miscariages, sick kids, ailing parents–life ‘s problems. We had managed to enjoy some wonderful vacations to Europe (5 of them, and some for 5 weeks); we were providing health insurance for our 4 person crew members plus vacations and paid holidays, and we had thetime and energy to assist local schools and veteran’s groups with assorted projects. Our CPA loved to tell us that we were the most efficient and profitable on a percentage basis of all his clients. Then….WAM!!!!!! My wife was diagnosed with breast cancer; we tumbled through the void of cancer hell; followed by a mastectomy that was botched (severe, almost irreprable nerve damage leaving her a semi-invalid ….for the time being…BUT! we’re getting better because I’m better!!!) and then to discover that the surgery was based on someone else’s pathology slides. So the mastectomy was NEVER required!!! Now, after all these years we have run amuck and topsy-turvy making idiotic mistakes one after the other–moving to a new community that is terrible; trying to restart the business in an alien landscape; losing over $250,000.00; losing our vehicles ; having only enough money-at times- for pocket change; on the brink of foreclosure by two banks for the past 3 years; the Bride suffering way too much with incredible pain; losing almost all contact with our kids and the extended family….and somehow, someway we have developed clarity of vision and a certain peace in knowing that ALL IS working for the good. And then along comes “ODE” (Intelligent Optimist) and your absolutely lovely article……..I am feeling Phoenix-like for the first time in almost thirteen years. Now, in Trevor-Guidance, “I am successful in my business of creating peaceful, comfortable, safe and durable homes. I am enjoying a most remarkable life full of incredible new and exciting adventures with my lovely Bride and partner of 39+ years!”

    Thank you Trevor for helping me to tip the scales in the best direction-in my heart of hearts I know this is the way…I am successful!
    Best to you,
    Ed Latson and the Bride-Lynn

    • Trevor says:

      Thanks for sharing this, Ed. It is never too late and there is never a wrong time to take control and reinvent oneself. One of my favorite emails is from a man who has found the energy to start a project that he put off for many years. He is 88 and as excited as a child about it. Perhaps one of the best tips comes from a woman who features in a 30 second video on my facebook ( page that I posted yesterday. Words to live by.

      • Ed Latson says:

        ABSOLUTELY wonderful-lovely!
        I am constantly reaffirmed by, and with ,the wisdom of age. I am a mere kid at 62 years young. So much of the time I feel much smarter, much more capable, and more intrigued by life and living than I ever did before. Dorothy Costa (?) -the Facebook video–does know how to live…and by example.

        Thank you so very much Trevor…..

  14. Luis Rios says:

    Trevor , thank you again for this reinforcing message. How do we take part of the webinar that you did earlier this month , I am now able to participate in the webinar.

  15. Luis Rios says:

    Thanks Trevor for the ongoing support

  16. Kristann says:

    Great article! The other one I am trying to avoid is should – you should or even worse, I should. It means I never will but I will beat myself up about it. I replace “should” with “can” and then it is a choice, a decision I (or someone else) feels good about making. Instead of “I should exercise”, “I can exercise”; for my kids, instead of “you should clean your room”, “you can clean your room”. This also naturally leads to all the positives for why to do it instead of the negatives from not doing it.
    I might have learned this from your book …. 🙂

  17. PenWms says:

    You really received a lot of responses from this post; I suppose it’s because a lot of us slip into negativity when we’re down, stressed, or overwhelmed. I know I do and I’ve been practicing the positive. Thanks for the gentle reminders.

    • Trevor says:

      In many of my ventures I work with scientists and editors who all strive for perfection. In their minds projects are never the best they can be, never finished, I remind them that good enough is good enough for most projects and perfectionism is fool’s gold. It is the same regarding the TSS. If we make 10% improvement in using beneficial statements over harmful ones, our lives become a blast. Change a little, change a lot (we Brits love our catchphrases)


  18. Robert says:

    Thanks Trevor this is great. I will re-read this over and over as time goes by.

  19. Nelleke says:

    thanks for the various alternatives changing the negative to a positive one; I worry constantly over all the money which needs to be paid and which seems to get bigger instead of smaller and the economy being in a slumb does not help; apart from the phrase: When I am debt free, could you also help in giving other positive sentences for the business to turn around? thanks a million!

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