Listen to the Full Episode:

Over the past few years, I’ve eliminated certain phrases from my vocabulary. Some of them friends had to point out to me, and others I slowly but surely realized were dragging me down.

Why we have to be mindful of the words we speak and the stories we’re telling ourselves.Today, I’m sharing six of those phrases with you.

Most of these are super common; I talk to amazing women from all over the world who say these things all the time.

It’s no wonder so many of us feel confused, uninspired, or discontent. We’re using certain words and phrases and constantly reinforce those feelings – and usually, we don’t even realize we’re doing it!

These disempowering phrases include:

“I can’t afford this.”

“I’m overwhelmed.”

“I’m just confused.”

Sound familiar? If you find yourself saying these things, don’t beat yourself up. You’re human. But I want to give you some tools for shifting these stories and ideas about what you can say instead.

If you like this episode, let me know and I might make a sequel! There are plenty more phrases that I’ve eliminated from my vocabulary, and life is all the better for it.

What You Will Discover:

  • Why we have to be mindful of the words we speak and the stories we’re telling ourselves.
  • How our brains take cues from our words to find more evidence to support the stories we tell.
  • What I’ve stopped saying to myself about money and my ability to afford things.
  • Why we can’t move through overwhelm, confusion, or difficult situations if we keep telling ourselves that we’re overwhelmed/confused/struggling.
  • How the phrase “I have to” makes us feel disempowered and resentful.
  • Great ways to turn these sentences around so you can live a more empowering life that is aligned with the woman you want to be and the dreams you want to create.

Featured on the Show:

Episode Transcript:

One of my favorite Sufi poets, Hafiz said, “The words you speak become the house you live in.”

Bonjour, and welcome to the French Kiss Life podcast where personal development meets style. I’m Tonya Leigh, certified Master Life Coach and the hostess of this party where we explore how to live artfully and well. Each week I’ll be sharing inspiring stories, practical tips, and timeless wisdom on how to elevate the quality of your everyday and celebrate along the way. Let’s dive into today’s episode.

Well, hello there, and welcome back to this week’s podcast. Some of you have told me that I’m like your best friend, and we meet up every Wednesday, for some of you we meet up in your car, for others we are in your kitchen while you’re cooking the kids’ breakfast. For some of you it’s on the subway on the way to work, and for some of you we go on walks together.

I want to just let you know that this means the world to me. I know there are so many things vying for your attention and there are so many incredible podcasts to choose from, so the fact that you choose the French Kiss Life podcast week after week, and we get to hang out together every Wednesday or whenever you choose to listen, it means so much to me, and I just want to thank you for allowing me to be a part of your world.  

It is time for a community spotlight. This is the part of the show where I get to highlight someone in the community who has benefited from the French Kiss lifestyle, and today’s spotlight is on WithLoveFromSeattle.

She left a five-star review that says, “Exceptional. I love Tonya. She’s the best friend I’ve always wanted. She’s so encouraging and uplifting. I stumbled upon her podcast two years ago and she’s changed my life all around, especially with my relationship with myself and my weight. She taught me I wasn’t broken. She taught me I can love the body I have right now. She taught me how to love it, and in the process, I lost 20 pounds. I look forward to her podcast every Wednesday morning.”

WithLoveFromSeattle, thank you so much for your review. These are the kinds of things I love to read. I think there’s this misconception that we need to hate ourselves and beat ourselves up to have bodies that we love or to create lives that we love, but just think about it. Can we get to loving our bodies through hating our bodies? No, doesn’t work that way.

Time and time again you all, I have seen miracles happen when women just decide they’re going to start loving themselves. The weight starts coming off, their relationships begin to shift, people leave that aren’t reflecting back to them love, and new people start to come in.

It’s such a beautiful thing to love ourselves, because at the end of the day, we are with ourselves all of the time. We come into this world with ourselves and we’re going to leave with just ourselves, and so to me, this is the most important relationship that you have and it’s the one that should be the number one priority in terms of where you focus your time and attention, on shifting and making sure it is the best relationship ever.

In this episode, I’m going to share six phrases to eliminate for an elegant life. I love the word elegance. When you look up the definition, it means simplicity and effectiveness. And one of the things that I’ve come to really appreciate is the power of our words, and we can use them to inspire us, to align us with our dreams, to make us feel better, or we can use our words against us.

When you are very mindful about the thoughts that you think, and from those thoughts, the words you speak, you can begin to create a more elegant life, which means simplicity and effectiveness. You speak in a way that fuels your dreams. You speak in a way that fuels you. You speak in a way that honors your truth, because every word that comes out of your mouth carries a vibration. And it’s either a vibration that is attracting good things into your life or it’s a vibration that’s attracting things that you don’t want into your life.

Now, what most people do is that they look around at their current reality and they speak words that match their current reality, but their current reality was created from past words. And so, if you want to change your circumstances, if you want to change your current reality, you’re going to have to be speaking at a level of the reality that you want to be in. Does this make sense? I’m assuming the answer is yes. This is why it is so important for you to be careful with the words you speak.


When I was growing up in my home, there were certain words that just were not allowed. So, we were not allowed to use the word “swear.” I couldn’t say, “I swear that happened,” because my mom may have popped me. Of course, we were not allowed to use profanity in the home. We weren’t allowed to say “shoot”, like even allowed to replace it with “shoot”. There were just certain things that were not allowed.

Love it or hate it, there was a boundary of the words that were allowed to be spoken within the walls of our home, in front of my mom and my dad. And I feel like we need to have that same kind of boundary within our lives. What words we’re allowed to speak and what words we’re not allowed to speak.

The way you decide what those words that are not allowed are to be is to ask yourself, “Do they inspire me? Do they motivate me? Do they align with the woman I want to be and my dreams and what it is that I’m here to create?”. And if they don’t, you know they don’t belong in your life. You need to have that boundary in your life about these phrases just are not allowed.

And let me just explain on a scientific level why this is so important. There’s this thing in your brain called the reticular activating system, the RAS, and its main job is to filter through all of the things that you are constantly being exposed to in your environment to decide what’s important. It’s what allows things into your brain.

I don’t know if you’ve ever noticed, but whenever you decide something, like to get a new car, all of a sudden you see that same car all over the street. And I’ve heard pregnant women say this, the moment they become pregnant, they see pregnant women everywhere. And that’s because your reticular activating system is telling your brain what to allow into your awareness.

So, you can imagine that if you’re not being intentional with the words that you speak, that you are allowing things into your experience that really don’t support you. For example, if you’re saying, “I don’t want to be broke,” the RAS, the reticular activating system is saying, “Broke. Broke. Broke. Let’s give her a lot of awareness, a lot of evidence of being broke,” because that is what you’re telling your brain to go out there and look for.

But again, this is what we do. We look at our current reality, our current circumstances, and we tell a very disempowering story around it, the very disempowering story that actually created it, and then we expect life to change, and that’s just not how it works.

If you want your life to change, you must be the one to change within your life. And the way you change is by being mindful of the thoughts that you fondle and how they make you feel, and then from those thoughts, the words that you speak, the energy that’s coming out of your mouth into the world.

And so, for me, I personally noticed that there were certain phrases that I was saying often, and I realized, you know what, with this information that I now understand about how the world works, these phrases no longer belong in my life. They’re not allowed in my house. And I started to eliminate them, and I just have to tell you all, life has changed dramatically, like 180°, from the woman who used to walk around and say these phrases very, very often, and so I want to share those with you.

So, here is the first one, and this is one I used to say often, probably every single day until one day when Sarah was probably around five, I could see her picking up on my language and I was getting into the world of personal development and I realized if I’m not careful, my daughter is going to be raised in a very lack and scarce environment, and I didn’t want that for her.

I wanted her to grow up in an abundant universe. And so, there was a day where I said, “Honey, we’re no longer allowed to say this phrase in our house,” and we’ve been practicing it ever since. But the phrase is “I can’t afford this”. And I just heard a lot of women saying this just recently, because we closed the doors to enrollment for one of my programs and there were women who wanted to join, but they were sending me messages, “I can’t afford this,” and I wanted to be able to tell each of them, “Please stop using this phrase in your life because when you do, let’s think about the reticular activating system, it’s creating a filter that says let’s go out there and look for all of the things that she can’t afford. Let’s give her what she’s asking for.”

And we do this on a very subconscious level. And, of course, we don’t want to have more experiences that we can’t afford, but when we walk around and we say, “I can’t afford this. I can’t afford this,” that will be your experience. Now, you may be thinking, “But Tonya, what if I don’t have money in the bank,” and I have been there. I get it. But you can change your language that becomes a lot more empowering.

So, for example, I like to say, “I’m choosing not to buy this right now. It’s my choice,” versus acting as if life is happening to me, it’s me saying, “You know what? I’m choosing not to buy this right now.” That feels a little bit better. Or, I will say something like, “I am so excited about the day that I can choose that or that I can afford that.” Now I’m telling my brain, go look for evidence of how she can afford it. Help her figure out how to get there.

But the moment that I say I just can’t afford it, it’s as if I stop the flow of life, I stop the creativity. So, I just never say I can’t afford something, even if I’m driving by the private airport in Aspen and I’m seeing all of these private jets, I never say, “You know what? I can’t afford that”. I’ll either say, “I’m choosing not to do that right now,” or I’ll say, “I cannot wait until the day that I can afford that.”

Sometimes you can ask yourself empowering questions too. For example, “Who do I need to be to be able to afford that? How can I afford that?”. Now, you’re asking your brain to go out there and look for evidence of how you can make it happen. So, that’s a subtle shift that you can make in your language if you ever find yourself saying, “I can’t afford this,”. I am begging you to remove that phrase from your vocabulary because it’s only creating more experiences for you not to be able to afford.

Okay, let’s go to the next one. So, this is one that I hear you all say a lot, and I know it feels true, and I’m going to give you two different versions of the same thought. And that is, “I’m overwhelmed”, or “I’m busy,”. I’ve talked a lot recently about how even though I have a lot on my calendar, I am producing and creating at a high level, the highest I ever have. How I’m not experiencing overwhelm and I’m not experiencing the sense of “Oh my god, I’m so busy” and it’s because I’ve decided not to.

I know it sounds so simple when I say it, but the application of this is a little bit more difficult because we can train ourselves into certain states of being that’s just familiar. And a lot of you have trained yourselves into being overwhelmed. And you look around, and you use your calendar and all of the things that you have to do as evidence that you’re overwhelmed, but I want you to understand that the way to get out of overwhelm is not to walk around saying that you’re overwhelmed. Are you with me?

If you want to get to a level of calm, and you want to get to a level of focus, and you want to get to a level of just peace, you don’t get there through overwhelm. That is not the portal to those emotions, so you’re going to have to change your language now to reflect how you want to feel in the future. That is how you make it happen.

Because again, when you walk around and you’re like, “I’m overwhelmed. I’m overwhelmed,” the brain’s like, “Okay, you want to be overwhelmed? Let’s give you overwhelm,” and it’s going to show you all of the reasons why you should be overwhelmed. But again, the brain is going to filter through life’s stuff to give you what you ask for. You could easily ask for something else.

And this is exactly why I haven’t felt overwhelmed. I’m not asking for it anymore. I’m asking for ease. I’m asking for focus. I’m asking for joy. I’m asking for something very different than overwhelm, which is why I deleted this phrase from my vocabulary. I don’t want an overwhelming house, so therefore, “I am overwhelmed” is not allowed in my house.

So, if you find yourself saying, “I’m overwhelmed,” over and over and over again, I just want you to notice how it makes you feel. And I know you think it’s true, but I want you to understand “I am overwhelmed” is simply a thought. Does it serve you? Does it make you feel more focused, more productive?

If you’re like me, whenever I walk around claiming how overwhelmed I am, I start to feel anxious and then I start to feel panicky, and it’s like it starts to build, and then all of a sudden, I feel paralyzed. I don’t know what to work on, I don’t know where to focus, and then my brain’s like, “See? I told you. You were overwhelmed. We gave you the evidence of what you were asking for,” so I just don’t say it anymore.

What do I say instead? “I have exciting projects to work on. What’s next? What do I need to focus on right now? How can I bring more ease into this?” And all of a sudden, my brain’s like, “Okay, you want ease? Here you go. You want exciting? Here you go,”.

Okay, let’s go to the next one. This one’s huge and this is one that my brain loves to go to. It would go there all the time if I let it, but I decided a couple of years ago it’s just no longer allowed in my house. And I had friends point this out to me. They’re like, “Why do you keep saying this?” and I was like, “Wow, it’s so true. It’s just debilitating and it’s stopping me.” And so, this is why I can recognize it in other people, because it used to be one of my favorite flavors of phrases to use in order to allow me to stay where I was.

And that phrase is “I’m confused.” How many of you are feeling confusion right now? And I just want you to notice that when you claim confusion, how life serves it up to you. I see this a lot when women come into my programs. They’re like, “I’m confused. I don’t know what I want, I don’t know what I should do. I’m so confused. I’m so confused,”. And I point out to them, I’m like, “Just notice how you cannot get to clarity through confusion. It’s just like you cannot get to calm and ease through overwhelm,”. It just doesn’t work.

And for me, I realized that I was saying “I’m confused” because I was afraid to make a decision. And so, it was a lot easier for me to blame confusion versus admit I’m just scared to decide what it is that I want. So instead, what I would do is walk around and say things like, “I’m confused about my brand. I’m confused about what program to create. I’m confused about where to live. I’m confused about what I should do.”

And whenever I was feeling confusion, I felt a sense of anxiety, frustration, and then those feelings would drive me to do nothing. And so, I never gained clarity, because clarity comes through action. So, I was sitting around being confused, taking no action, and then expecting to get to clarity and it just never worked.

The moment I decided I am no longer confused, I’m not going to be a confused woman and I started practicing making decisions, that’s when the clarity came. And so, for any of you that are walking around, saying, “I’m confused. I’m confused. I’m confused,” stop it. I love you and I don’t want you to just go in that cul de sac of confusion. Instead, ask yourself things like, “What am I clear about right now?” Or maybe you go even deeper and ask yourself, “What am I afraid of? What decision am I afraid of making and why?”

And just be curious about where the confusion’s coming from, because I can guarantee you, it’s coming from either A, a lack of information, and that’s easy fix. You just go out there and get the information and then you can make an informed decision, or most likely, it’s probably just coming from a fear or deciding.

But I want you to understand decision gets the momentum going. There is no wrong decision. There’s just a decision that either leads you to where you want to go or a decision that teaches you something. It teaches you about where you don’t want to go, and that’s good data to have, but the only way to gain that wisdom and to gain that knowledge is to decide.

Now, there are times in my life where I’m not ready to make a decision, but I no longer run the story of I’m confused. What I like to say is, “In this moment, I don’t know and that’s okay. In this moment, I’m not ready to decide and that’s okay”. So, I’m not resisting life, I’m not pressuring myself, I’m owning the choice that I’m making to not decide right now and I’m allowing it to be okay.

And it’s crazy, you all, when I do that and I just relax, then all of a sudden, this influx of inspiration and clarity comes through me. So, I don’t get there though through claiming I’m confused and holding confusion as some kind of badge of honor. I no longer say, “I am confused,” and I highly encourage you not to use that phrase either.

The next phrase that I have eliminated from my vocabulary has been the reason why I’ve been able to live with so much more ease, and that phrase is “It’s hard”. Or, another flavor of this one is “I’m struggling”. When I get on coaching calls, women do not even understand how many times per minute they use the term “I’m struggling” or “This is hard” as if it is true.

Now, I’m not suggesting that everything is easy. What I’m suggesting is does it serve you to walk around claiming how hard everything is, or how big of a struggle things are. Does it serve you? When you think something is hard, does it inspire you to take action? Are you excited about it? Or, when you claim that your life is one big struggle, are you, again, inspired? Are you motivated to go out there and change it?

Chances are, no, you’ve already decided in your head it’s so hard, and when you make that decision ahead of time, that it’s going to be hard, chances are you will not even show up for it. Again, “It’s hard” is telling your brain, “Look for all of the reasons how this is hard. Look for all of the things that is hard about this,” and therefore, there’s no ability to have ease within it.

So, for me personally, I don’t use the term “I’m struggling”. I don’t get on team meetings with my team members and say, “Oh my god, guys, I’m struggling with this,”. What I like to say is, “This is challenging for me and I am up for the challenge, now help me figure this out,”. Or, I love to ask myself empowering questions.

A great examples of this is I knew last year that I was ready to write a book, but I want you to understand, all of the years prior, I had convinced myself of how hard it is to write a book, because everybody tells you it’s hard. Right? And then we start believing what everybody else thinks about writing a book. And I realized, “Hey, wait. I don’t have to take on that truth for me. What if that’s just a lie that’s been perpetuated throughout the centuries that writing a book is hard? Do I want that to be my truth?”

And so, suddenly I was like, “How can I make this easier? How can I make this more fun? How can I make this an incredible experience?” and all of a sudden, I had an idea around how to write my book unlike any other person I’d ever seen write a book, which was basically do master classes around the lessons that are in the book.

One of the things that easy for me is speaking. And, believe it or not, I used to have a story that being on video is hard, and I realized I don’t want it to be hard, I want it to be easy. And the moment I dropped that story of how it’s hard and I’m not good at being in front of the video camera, all of a sudden people are saying, “Oh my god, you’re so good on camera,” and it’s because I dropped the story.

Right? I want you to understand that. And so, for me now, being on video is relatively easy, and so I just get on video and I share these lessons that will become the book. How easy is that? Now, granted, I’m going to have to print all the transcripts, which I’m in the process of doing, I’m going to have to edit them, I might have to add to them, I would have to see what do I want to change, what do I want to add, what stories can I add to this chapter to make it even more yummy?

I don’t know why that word just came out. But, imagine if I would just have decided ahead of time that writing a book is hard. I want you to understand that is hard is an option. And of all of the thoughts that you can think about whatever it is that you want to do and create in your life, I just want you to ask yourself, is it benefiting you to claim how hard it is? Is it benefiting you to walk around and tell the story of how you’re struggling? And if not, you get to tell a new story and you get to create a new reality.

Let’s move to the next phrase that I have eliminated to cultivate more elegance, and the phrase is “I have to”. I was coaching one of my members recently in one of my programs and she was telling me that she has to take care of her aging parents. And it may seem really true, that you have to take care of your parents, that you have to take care of your children, that you have to go to work, that you have to pay taxes, that you have to clean your house.

But I want you to ask yourself if there is any freedom in walking around, claiming that you have to do all of these things, because you don’t have to do anything. You do not have to take care of your children. You do not have to take care of your parents. You don’t even have to go to work. You don’t have to pay taxes. There are people that choose to do none of those things.

Everything you do is a choice, and there’s something very empowering about owning that choice, because that means you get to make new choices if you don’t like the choice that you’re making, or you get to decide that you are going to own that choice and you’re going to feel good about it. But walking around as if life is happening to you and you have no choice in your decisions is taking all of your power away.

I never say, “I have to,”, like, “I have to record a podcast today,” or, “I have to pick my daughter up from the airport,” or, “I have to clean my house,” or, “I have to take care of my dogs,” or, “I have to fill in the blank,”. No, these are all choices that I’m making. I get to do those things. I’m choosing to do those things. And that kind of languaging is so much more empowering than walking around, saying, “I have to do this. I have to do that,” as if you have no choice. Everything is a choice, so I want you to decide on purpose and to own your decisions instead of acting as if your decisions are happening to you.

Okay, so here is the last phrase that I never use, and I remember using this one a lot when my finances were limited and I would look around at friends or people I didn’t even know and I would see them living this extraordinary life, and I would say, “I wish I could do that,” or, “I wish I could be that,” or, “I wish I could have that,”.

When I was doing that, what I didn’t understand what was really going on is I was creating experiences of always just wishing. I was telling my brain, “Go out there and find more things that I can wish I could do, but I’m not doing,”. And I will tell you, it really breaks my heart when I hear women say this.

I’ve had women come up to me and say, “I wish I could have a business like yours. I wish I could travel like you do,”. They’ll say things sometimes very passive, like, “Oh, well that must be nice,” and deep down I know what they’re saying is, “I wish I could do that thing,”. And here’s the thing you all, you can. It really is a choice and aligning with that choice. And when I really started to understand that, I stopped wishing for the life that I wanted, and I started creating it.

So, instead of saying, “I wish I could do that,” I would start to ask myself, “How can I do that? How can I be that? How can I have that?” because I wanted to tell my brain, “Go out there and find all of the reasons of why this can happen and how this can happen,” versus always serving me up experiences of just wishing.

I remember when I first started traveling, which, by the way, I didn’t do until I was in my late 20s. I wasn’t one of these teenagers that my parents took me all around the world. We went to Disney World once and then we would always go to Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, which I’m so grateful for. I’m just grateful for all it.

But I do remember when I first started traveling and I would walk on the airplane and I’d walk through first class. And I remember thinking, “Oh, well that must be nice. I wish I could do that,”. And it was only when I decided I want to be a woman that if I want to fly first class, I can fly first class. That’s when I started flying first class. If I would’ve just walked around the world being bitter and looking at people with envy and jealousy who are sitting in first class, and just living in a state of constantly wishing, I would’ve never ended up there.

Now here’s the thing, you all, if you’re experiencing envy and jealousy, do not fight it. You’re human. We’ve all been there, right? But I want you to understand that those moments are showing you what you want, and so if you find yourself thinking, “I wish I could do that,” or, “How dare she,” or whatever comes up for you, whatever your language is around that, just notice and catch yourself and be kind to yourself in those moments. Don’t beat yourself up for being jealous because that doesn’t serve you.

But then, start to ask those empowering questions: How can I do that? How can I be the kind of woman who’s flying in first class, for example? Or, how can I be the woman who lives in that type of home? Who do I need to be to attract that kind of love into my life? Tell your brain to get to work for you instead of constantly working against you. Your brain’s just this program, and a lot of you have programmed it very ineffectively. You’ve programmed it to serve up all of the things you don’t want and to keep you where you are, but you can equally upgrade your software, upgrade your programming system, to start creating very different results in your life.

You know, when women come up to me and they say things like, “I wish I could do that,” I’m like, “Well, you can, but you’re not going to get there through that kind of language,”. Instead of wishing for it, commit to it. Commit to doing the work to create it. Commit to becoming the kind of woman who’s living that life and then you will realize that all along, the miracle was within you.

So, instead of saying, “I wish I could do that,” change your language to, “I am going to do that. I commit to doing that. I commit to being that,” or, “How can I do that? How can I be that?” and get your programming working for you. Tell the RAS system, the reticular activating system, to filter through all of the things in your environment to show you what is possible, and you can do that by changing your language, changing the phrases that you use in your everyday life.

Now, I have more of these phrases that I have eliminated from my vocabulary, so if you like this episode, let me know, because maybe I’ll do a sequel of other things that you can stop saying in order to live an extraordinary life, in order to live an elegant life, but start with these six and just notice how often you use them and how they make you feel, and then start to play with the turnarounds. Start to play with shifting your energy. Start to play with telling your brain what you want to see more of, and just notice the results that that creates in your life.

If you enjoyed this episode and you want to dive even deeper into the French Kiss lifestyle, let’s start with a makeover, a mindset makeover. You can download my free training with three mindset makeovers every woman needs by visiting Because, after all, mindset is the new black.

Enjoy the Show?

Self-Image Makeover

Live Your Life With Style, Flare, and Elegance