The Power of "Don't"
by Robin Sacks
I was scrolling through my social media this morning and was stopped cold in my tracks. Have you ever had that happen? You're mindlessly scrolling, and then you see something that absolutely blows your mind? It makes you have to stop and take it in.
The post that stopped me this morning was a simple quote by investor Naval Ravikant; “The first rule of handling conflict is don’t hang around people who are constantly engaging in conflict.”
As a confidence and public speaking coach, a foundational part of my work with clients revolves around self-talk. Self-talk can make you or break you and is probably the most powerful tool every single person has in their toolbox. The problem is that most people have no idea how to use this tool to their advantage; they just think that they think what they think, and have no control over it.
Sometimes being wrong is a beautiful thing. ;)
When working with a client, one of the first things I encourage them to do is to become super self-aware of what they are saying to themselves throughout the day (i.e. what is their self-talk chattering about). What they find initially is that there are a handful of 'roadblock' words that come up often; can't, maybe, try and don't are pretty typical. Words like 'maybe' and 'try' are key because they are non-committal, while a word like 'can't' is often an excuse not to 'try.'
But the word 'don't' is different. 'Don't' has both the power to keep you stuck and the power to make you thrive.
The way 'don't' can keep you stuck is when you use it to focus on something you want to change. Most people focus on what they don't want, instead of what they do want. For example, if I ask someone what are they trying to change, they will usually answer, 'I don't want to be so stressed anymore' as opposed to, 'I want to be calm more often.'
Since we humans get what we focus on, this explains exactly why most people never get what they want - they are focusing on what they don't want, and that's what follows them through their lives.
However, the word 'don't' also has a superpower. This superpower is illustrated in Naval Ravikant's quote above.
When you use 'don't' as an intentional boundary, it will put you in the position to succeed.
Here are some ways to use 'don't' in your life to propel yourself forward, and never look back:
- Don't make excuses, just be honest (with both yourself and others)
- Don't hang around people who drain your energy; hang with people who fill you with energy
- Don't be someone you're not; being you is your own personal super power
- Don't bully yourself with negative self-talk; talk to yourself like you would a supportive friend
- Don't talk about other people unless you have something nice to say
- Don't put yourself at the end of the list when it comes to self-care; tend to you first
- Don't say 'yes' if you really mean 'no;' the word "no" is a confident person's best friend
How are you going to use the power of "don't" to set personal boundaries for yourself? Beginning right now, start making intentional decisions that become the rules for your life...and then, play by the rules.