Words hold a lot of power. They have energy and influence. They can harm and destroy, just as easily as they can help and heal. We use words to express ourselves, to make sense of our experiences, and to connect and understand others. Words create our world, so it’s important to consider them wisely. As a coach, I think carefully about the words I use with my teen and college-age clients. I always seek words that are inspiring and empowering. I choose words that provoke thought and those that illuminate silver linings and possibilities.
There are three small yet mighty words that I love. As you read, think about how you can incorporate them into your internal dialogue and use them with your teen or college-age daughter.
This word inspires hope and opportunity. It reminds us that certain things take time and require intention and effort. Consider how each of these statements feels and sounds:
I can’t do it.
I can’t do it, yet.
I am not good at this.
I am not good at this, yet.
When I’m coaching teens and college students, adding yet automatically sparks an exploration into desired outcomes and actions. This clarity encourages forward momentum and a growth mindset.
This word inspires perspective. It is inclusive and affirming. Life is full of paradoxes and the word and reminds us that two opposites can be true at the same time. Something does not have to be one or the other. And is particularly powerful when it replaces another three-letter word, but. Consider this:
I really want to get an A in math, but it’s so hard for me!
I really want to get an A in math, and it’s so hard for me.
In this case, replacing but with and acknowledges a challenge without making it an excuse. It recognizes the challenge but invites reflection into what can be done to overcome it.
This word encourages personal strength, capability, courage, and limitlessness. Similar to yet, can empowers teens and young adults and invites them to think about how they will approach a challenge and find clarity to the way forward. Consider this:
I can get an A in math. How? I can study for one extra hour a week. I can ask my teacher for study tips.
I can make good friends. How? I can start a conversation with the girl in my class. I can invite my pretty good friends to do something outside of school.
I like to use can as a supportive reframe. For example, if a client says to me, “I can’t do that.” I ask, “What can you do?” This always takes the focus away from what may not be or feel doable to what is doable.
How will you start to include yet, and, can with your teen or college-age daughter?