Three Unhelpful Words You Should Never Say to Yourself

It’s important for you to take stock of your life.  You should review what’s happened, so you can retool for the future.  But don’t stay focused on the past.  And especially don’t say three unhelpful words to yourself.

three unhelpful words

When we’re reviewing the past, we sometimes beat ourselves up about what didn’t happen.  But that doesn’t help the past.  It doesn’t help our present.  And it sure doesn’t help our future.

While I am guilty of saying these three unhelpful words to myself, I am trying to weed them out of my speech pattern.  And I hope you will too.


(I recognize that grammarians reading this post may take issue with my word usage, but these contractions are heard in our every-day American speech.)


1. Could’a


When things don’t go according to plan, we might say to ourselves, I could’a done that.  Or I could’a done better.  (Translation of could’a for grammarians: I could have.)  But we can’t just stay there.

It’s not helpful just to make a comment about what you didn’t do well enough.  Unless you’re going to identify what you will do differently the next time, don’t even say it to yourself.

Don’t get down on yourself about what you didn’t do.  Instead think about what you can do.  And what you will do.


2. Would’a


When we think about what we haven’t done, we might tell ourselves a different narrative.  If only circumstances had been different, we would’a done such and such.

It’s OK to recognize that.  But it’s not healthy to dwell on that.  We can’t live our lives looking in the rear view mirror.  Or we will miss seeing what’s in front of us.

Thinking about what you wish had happened will not bring it about.  Instead think about how you will make it happen.


3. Should’a


If we look back on missed opportunities, it’s one thing to admit “I should’a done this” or “I should’a done that.”  It’s another thing to use that as cat-o’-nine-tails on ourselves.

If guilt and shame over what we’ve (not) done brings us to repentance, then that’s good.  But so often we allow it to be used for self-condemnation.

It’s good to honestly assess yourself, but don’t say those three unhelpful words to yourself.  You can ‘fess up that you missed the mark.  But then confidently move forward knowing God is not through with you yet.

God will heal broken hearts, comfort those who mourn, make beauty from ashes, and repair the ruins (Isaiah 61:1-4).  Just be willing to join Him in that work.


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