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The Power of Positive Speech - Part 2

Have to vs. Get to

This is Part 2 of my series on Positive Speech. Part 1—eliminating “I can’t” from your lexicon—was very well received. Just to share one piece of feedback—My friend, Jackie, who happens to be a very successful blogger, called me and said, “Oh my god, MB, I loved your latest post. I have not said, ‘I can’t’ since I read it.” She reposted the article on her blog.

As an FYI, new habits take anywhere from 18 days to nine months to form, depending on the behavior, according to a cutting-edge study conducted by Lally in 2009. Motivation to change is a huge factor in adapting new behaviors more quickly (hint hint). So, having four to five weeks between each of my Positive Speech posts is a fair amount of time to begin eliminating those negative habits and adopting a more positive style of speaking.

"Have to."

This week’s positive speech conversation target. It is time to phase out saying “I have to.” Please. Pretty please.

When I hear people say, “I have to do X, Y, and/or Z,” I often want to scream. Sometimes I say nothing (not very often though), and other times, I say, “Actually, you don’t have to do anything in life, except die.” The look on their faces is similar to a deer in the headlights—like a “What do you mean?” look.

The most common knee-jerk response I then hear is, “That’s not true, Mary Beth. I have to pay taxes!” Um, no, you don’t. Sure, if you don’t do things, like pay your taxes or go to work, there are consequences. But you truly do not have to do anything (except die).

And stating you have to do this, that, and the other thing only imprisons you in life. Start noticing how often you say, “I have to,” and how icky it sounds. It’s disempowering. What you choose to do on a daily basis is just that—a choice.

Here’s an example of a typical conversation I have on a weekly, if not daily, basis:

Me: Hey, Jenny, how’s it going? What are you guys up to this weekend?

Jenny: Hey, MB. Doing well, thanks. So, Friday, John and I have to go to a company event, so I have to get a babysitter for the kids. Saturday, I have a bunch of errands—I have to pick up the dry cleaning, and then I have to do some grocery shopping. Lexi and her scout troop have to sell cookies for four hours outside of the supermarket, and I have to stay there as a “chaperone.” On Sunday, we have to go to church, and then I have to get the kids to their playdates. What are you guys up to, MB?

So, help me out here. Does my friend, Jenny, have to do any of those things? Heck no! It’s a choice. Maybe even a privilege.

What about this version of the conversation:

Me: Hey, Jenny, how’s it going? What are you guys up to this weekend?

Jenny: Hey, MB. Doing well, thanks. So, Friday, John and I are going to a company event, so I’ll get a babysitter for the kids. Saturday, I have a bunch of errands—pick up the dry cleaning, and then I’ll head over to do some grocery shopping. Lexi and her scout troop were given the “go ahead” to sell cookies for four hours outside of the supermarket, and I signed up as a “chaperone.” On Sunday, we are going to church, and then I’ll get the kids to their playdates. What are you guys up to, MB?

My blood pressure goes down several notches reading the second conversation between Jenny and me. Jenny gets to; she is going to; she is simply doing those things. It’s positive and reflects choice and contentment. Don’t you agree?

Just for the record…

You do not have to go to work.

You go to work because you are a responsible adult, and having an income is a good thing.

You do not have to fly to San Francisco for a vacation.

You get to go to San Francisco for vacation—what a privilege!

You do not have to call your mother.

You are going to call your mother because you are a good son/daughter.

You do not have to pick up your kids.

It might be tempting, but I suggest you pick up your kids because you are a good parent!

You have choices, and “choosing to” puts all the power in your court and makes you the master of your own life. I would say that makes you a pretty fortunate individual.

If you think positively, you will speak more positively, and you will attract positivity into your life.

Have a great rest of the month.

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