13 Transformational Vocabulary Tips – How Words Can Change You Life (2024)

Whether they’re in our head or spoken aloud, your vocabulary has the power to build you up or tear you down.

Your words can provide the motivation and inspiration to move people ahead, or the power to destroy their resolve and cause a block in their pathway.

Here are some transformational vocabulary tips from Tony Robbins you can use today.

Let’s dive right into it.

Transformational Vocabulary
Photo by Brett Jordan on Unsplash

1. Check Yourself

Become conscious the moment you use a habitual phrase to describe your unhappy or distressing feelings. Begin to notice what labels you put on things.

If you say something like, “I’m so worried about this,” stop yourself and notice that “worry” might be too strong a word. 

Words have a biochemical effect on the body. The minute you use an old word like “devastated,” you’re going to produce a very different biochemical effect than if you say, “I’m a bit disappointed.”

Monitor your language and make sure your language isn’t exaggerating the intensity of emotions.

2. List 3 Negative Words

Come up with three words you use on a regular basis that intensify negative feelings or emotions in your body.

They could be terms like “I’m an idiot,” “Why am I so stupid,” or “I look old.” Come up with a new word that will lower the intensity of those negative emotions.

How would you feel if instead of “idiot” you say you “weren’t fully present.” Or even if instead of saying you “look old” you say you “look amazing” even with everything life has brought your way?

3. List 3 Positive Words

How do you normally reply when someone says, “how’s it going?” Come up with three phrases that will amplify and intensify positive feelings and inspire you.

Instead of responding that things are “all right,” replace it with “incredible,” “outrageous,” and “spectacular.”

What’s a positive phrase that if you really thought about your whole life, you could say and own congruently?

4. Replace Dreaded Words

Words can evoke feelings of dread or obligation, on the other hand, they can also inspire or motivate with energy.

Terms like, “should”, “must”, and “have to” can be changed to “could”, “get to”, and “choose to”. 

For example, “I get to do the laundry today”. Resolve it within yourself by understanding that it means clean clothes in your closet that you get to wear and feel good in.

5. Metaphors That Empower

Metaphors are symbols for life’s journey. Are the metaphors you use empowering?

Many metaphors carry implicit, limiting beliefs—even those that don’t appear to be disempowering on the surface.

Their meaning may also depend on your interpretation. This will reveal how you are choosing to approach your life.

For example, “Life is a roller-coaster … up one minute, down the next” versus “Life is an interesting journey.”

Come up with your own metaphors that are true for you.

6. Expand Your Vocabulary

Aim to expand your vocabulary. Since the words you use shape your experiences, having a limited vocabulary to describe your feelings narrows the scope and richness of your emotions and life.

Expanding your vocabulary will expand your ability to feel and express emotions as well as your world.

In fact, one study of prison inmates noted that people often expressed their pain through physical violence because they lacked the vocabulary to describe their emotions.

7. Change Your Words To Change Your Interactions

Being mindful of what you say when speaking to others can make your interactions more positive and productive.

Imagine you run into a problem at home and approach your spouse to come up with a solution. If you start by saying, “I’m worried about this,” your spouse is more likely to have a heightened emotional response, and she may even get defensive. This could be counterproductive to finding a resolution.

By contrast, the moment you say, “I’m a little bit concerned about this and want to talk about how we can fix it,” brings down your emotional intensity and allows your spouse to react from a position of empowerment, which helps you both reach a resolution. 

Photo by Alexandra on Unsplash

8. Impact On Your Children

What you say communicates to your children whether you attribute their successes and failures to how they’re acting or who they are.

When your child makes a mistake or misbehaves, calling her clumsy or disobedient frames the child’s behavior as a character trait. This can damage her sense of identity and self-worth.

Instead, tell your child that you’re getting “a little” (softener) “peeved” (less intense word) with her behavior, and ask to talk it over together.  

9. Eliminate The Word “Just”

Using the word “just” is akin to asking someone for permission, especially when you’re asking a person for something you require from them.

You may be inclined to call someone and say, “‘I’m just following up to see if you’ve had a chance to complete the report I asked you for.” 

Instead say, “I’m following up on the report I asked you for.” Using the word “just” is equivalent to a “shy knock on a door before asking, “Can I get something I need from you?”

Eliminating the word “just,” is more empowering and makes you appear more authoritative, less uncertain and more confident in yourself.

10. Avoid Using “How” For Feedback

Many of us are conditioned to answer questions that begin with the word “how” in a specific way

People are more likely to reply to questions with specific information, providing you with valuable feedback that you can use to improve in the future.

For example, if someone asks, “How are you?” you may commonly answer with “Good. How are you?”

The same is often true when asking for feedback. If you say, “How did I do?” or “How did that go?” people will often reply with “Good” or “Fine.”

Change it up by saying, “What is one thing I should keep on doing, and one thing that I should do differently?”

11. “Yes, and…” Make It Relevant To Them

When you reply to someone’s request by starting with “yes, but,” you may put them on the defensive.

For example, if your boss previously wanted a report from you in one week, and now she wants it in three days, you may choose to say, “yes, but if I do that, I’ll need to work late for three days in a row and miss my kid’s soccer practice.”

This could make her feel defensive and she may double down on her request. Instead, if you say, “yes, and if I do that, I won’t be able to complete xyz assignments for clients abc, and that may affect our relationship with them. Which is more important to you?” 

This response creates more of a partnership, by implying that you’ve thoughtfully considered the request, and that will help your boss understand the true implications of what she’s asking.

12. Daily Mantras

Daily mantras using transformational vocabulary offer powerful biochemical triggers or anchors to the human nervous system.

Mantras like:

  • You have achieved so much in your life!
  • You can achieve your goals in the ways that are best for you.
  • There’s a potential I may not be aware of, yet I know it will express itself.

13. Accountability Buddies

Pick two key people in your life — a close friend and ideally someone you respect that you would not want to disappoint.

Explain to them your commitment to replace two or three key words in your vocabulary.

Give them permission if they hear you speaking in the old pattern, to ask you if that’s really the way you want to explain how you feel.

For example: Let them know if you start to say, “John f’n pisses me off,” that you want them to intervene and ask you, “Do you mean John’s behavior makes you feel a bit peeved?”

If you’re committed, a simple reminder will get you to catch yourself and lower the intensity immediately. 

What Is Transformational Vocabulary?

Transformational Vocabulary is Tony Robbins’ theory that the words you use determine your emotional state and behavior.

The Transformational Vocabulary method uses positive phrases to change how you feel about certain situations. In doing so, you can change how you respond to life’s difficulties. 

Your words have the power to change your experiences in life by lowering the emotional intensity to the point where they no longer control you.

For example, if your habitual vocabulary for a painful experience is limited to words such as “furious” or “angry”, you may not be critically analyzing the negative sensations. 

Instead, you could unconsciously amplify the internal experience that word elicits.

Alternatively, others may experience the exact same emotional intensity, sensation or experience, but their habitual vocabulary to use is “annoyed” rather than “angry.”

These language patterns immediately transform their sensations to a level of emotional intensity much lower than that of the person who uses the term “anger.”

It can also be used to take positive experiences and increase them to even greater heights of pleasure.

Read Transformation Coach – A Complete Guide if you’re looking for more guidance on this for your coaching business, 

How Can I Change My Vocabulary?

According to Tony Robbins, the phrases you choose to describe an event influences how you experience that event.

Most people have limited language patterns when it comes to describing what they’re feeling on a regular basis. Words like “angry”, “happy”, “excited”, “nervous”, “guilty”, “scared”, “furious”, “depressed”, “exhausted” or “bored” could be part of your everyday vocabulary.

What if you could expand and modify your vocabulary to change or transform your emotional experiences?

Instead of being “livid” or “furious” you could be “a bit peeved” or “upset”. Instead of being “depressed” you could be “a bit down” – or maybe instead of being “scared to death” you could describe yourself as being “uneasy”. Do you see the difference?

Your language patterns have significant meaning to you – psychologically and subconsciously – and they directly affect how you feel about a given situation or event.

By changing your habitual vocabulary and carefully choosing different words when under a financially difficult time, for example, could allow you to feel less anxious and more productive or another positive state.

Rather than describing your situation as “scary” or “devastating”, you might want to describe it as “challenging” or “uncomfortable”.

How Words Can Change You Life
Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash

How Words Can Change Your Mindset?

The power of transformational vocabulary directly influences how you experience life. 

Think of it this way: Your body constantly relays sensations to your brain—through sight, sound, smell, taste, and touch. When your brain receives these sensations, it assigns a label (a word) to each feeling in order to make sense of them.

Rather than taking the time and mental energy to find the right word to precisely describe each sensation, your brain develops habitual vocabulary, drawing from sensations of past experiences, to pull from quickly.

If your habitual vocabulary is full of empowering words, you’ll constantly use language that colors your experiences in a positive way. You’ll promote empowering thoughts, emotions, and behaviors.

For support to help you find the right coach, look at this article, Transformational Life Coach – Quality Criteria to Look for.

How Words Change Life?

Words have a dramatic effect on what we know, how we interact with people and the decisions we ultimately make. Language can influence us, inspire us or just as easily bring us to tears.

Throughout human history, great leaders have used the power of words to transform our emotions, to enlist us in their causes, and to form the course of destiny.

From Winston Churchill’s focus on the “finest hour” to Martin Luther King, Jr.’s depiction of a “dream” we realize that beliefs are formed by language — and they can be transformed by language.

Here is a list of things to remember when transforming your limited vocabulary.

  • Offer kind words any time you are able, especially to yourself.
  • Switch negative habitual words for positive ones.
  • The way it’s said can be as important as what’s said.
  • Explaining how you feel will help sort out most things.
  • Say no when required, politely, without fear or guilt.
  • Be clever and funny, not mean and funny, even to yourself.
  • Speak up when others need your support, especially when they can’t speak for themselves.
  • Listen as often as you talk.

Habitual vocabulary, the words you use to describe your emotions have a powerful and undeniably overwhelming influence on us – for good and, at times, for bad.

How To Use Your Words As Power

Simply by changing your habitual vocabulary, the words you consistently use to describe emotions, you can instantaneously change how you think, how you feel, and how you live.

This is the power of Transformational Vocabulary, that Tony Robbins realized. Consciously using your words improves the quality of your life today and for the rest of your life.

Here’s how to start using transformational vocabulary.

1. React Or Respond

If your emotional patterns are to react to a situation with destructive words, the implications can be overwhelming and soul destroying for the recipient.

It takes mindfulness, focus, and absolute integrity to express ourselves in a kind way no matter the situation. 

Stop, take a breath and be mindful before you respond when you’re stressed.

2. Be Responsible For Your Words

Be conscious about the fact that your words hold incredible power both positively and negatively.

Everything expressed verbally has the power to influence and change the lives of all you share your world with. Be responsible, will you use words that inspire or destroy?

3. Mind Your Positivity

Choose to speak only loving, healing, inspiring, and uplifting words to yourself and others.

Words shape your life and the lives of those around you. You can create an environment of loving energy right now.

4. Your Inner Critic

By taking note of any negative self-talk, you’ll begin the necessary process of interrupting this destructive habit.

Start asking yourself:

  • Would I speak to my best friend like this?
  • Would I speak to someone I love this way?
  • Can I change the situation that is making me feel so down?
  • Am I actively taking positive steps towards feeling better?
  • What resulted from saying something so negative to myself?

Negative self-talk can influence more negative emotions your self-esteem, your outlook

on life, your energy levels, your relationships, and even your health.

Here is a Rapid Transformational Coaching – The Complete Guide.

Transformational Vocabulary PDF

You may have already concluded how powerful language is. Let’s expand on this for a few additional examples of the power of language.

  • Avoid doubting language. Words like actually, hopefully, to some extent and basically show uncertainty. They are vague, but not in a meaningful way. Better to use the word ‘sure’.
  • Instead of saying ‘I’m bad at this’ on the other hand, you can say, ‘I’m not good at this yet.’ This implies a growth mindset to focus on what you want to achieve.

Find more in depth discussion from the Milton H. Erickson Foundation, Inc. with this training PDF.

Transformational Vocabulary List

These are considered the most important power phrases you can easily memorize. Use these phrases consistently and your reality will bring you more happiness.

  • Magnificent
  • Fantastic
  • Insane
  • Spectacular
  • Over the moon
  • Incredible
  • Enchanted
  • Ecstatic
  • Incredibly blessed
  • Charged
  • Driven
  • Exuberant
  • Phenomenal
  • Awesome
  • Explosive
  • Invincible

Now you realize that internal dialogue and metaphors can change your life.

Control your happiness and replace words that upset you with more uplifting ones because as Milton Erickson, an American psychiatrist who specialized in medical hypnosis and family therapy, says,

  • “Life will bring you pain all by itself. Your responsibility is to create joy.”

We appreciate you ✅  for reading about Transformational Vocabulary to find out how words can change your life. Pass this on to a friend to help them create more happiness too.

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About The Author

Bijan Kholghi is a certified life coach with the Milton Erickson Institute Heidelberg (Germany). He helps clients and couples reach breakthroughs in their lives by changing subconscious patterns. His solution-oriented approach is based on Systemic- and Hypnotherapy.