Word Swap! From “Good/Bad” to “Skilled/Evolving”

Lisa Schwaller
3 min readApr 19, 2022
Photo by Miikka Luotio on Unsplash

“I was doing really well with my eating plan until…”

“I’m bad with my finances…”

“I’m not good at romantic relationships…”

Eeek! Not “this or that” thinking striking again…with qualifiers!

Noooooo!!! Ha!

I believe words are powerful.

Words ARE powerful.

Our thoughts literally shape our reality.

Working with my clients each week, one of the areas we pay very, very careful attention to is the words their automatic thinking uses when it “talks” to them.

Informally, I have a series of articles and videos about word swaps.

In this article, I’ll share my perspective on swapping out “good” and “bad” for “skilled” and “evolving.”

Let’s revisit the thought examples…

“I was doing good until…” becomes “I am monitoring my results while learning the skill of…”

One is a judgment about yourself as a person.

I “was doing good” is a close companion to “I AM good.”

I love the new set up of “skilled” and “evolving” because it creates a pause, a gap, between behavior and identity.

I can decide what I am “skilled” at doing and creating.

I can decide which skills and behaviors are “evolving” or “stagnating” or “depreciating.”

It has nothing to do with my individual worth as a person.

Hurrah for that!

To put this into perspective, I’ll share a story from my own life.

I love myself. A lot. My worth is unquestionable.

When I make “high trust” choices in myself, I am often pleased with the results.

And I am not always skilled at saying “no” to foods I should not eat.

I am a 3 times certified coach, for goodness sake, and yet I find a handful of M&Ms nearly irresistible. And don’t get me started on Cadbury’s Easter candy…

I decided to start seeing the decision to say “yes” or “no” as a skill I was practicing.

My skill of saying “no” to candy is improving…

ESPECIALLY since I started to see it as a skill I can develop, same as the skill of squatting a certain weight in the gym.

Working with my clients helps me with my own growth because I see incredibly successful, smart, creative people describing their behaviors as good or bad.

And I thought, “Well, there must be some connection between the language they use and the results they see.” And, by association, by the language I’m used to practicing in my own mind.

So…when in doubt, I create distance…space to evaluate, observe and analyze.

Let’s create distance between the thoughts and the person’s identity.

Because decision making is in the space between stimulus and response.

When I tell myself, “I am improving my skill at saying ‘no’ to food that I want to eat but don’t want to live on,” I am breaking the “Lisa = good or bad” cycle.

It works for me.

It works for the hundreds of clients of mine who have tried word swap.

We are all becoming more skilled in the practice of choosing the words that describe our behavior in a way that shows us the power of our choice.

We are evolving the way we use language in our minds, and that slows our thinking down enough to connect us to our long-term decision maker.

No more good or bad. “Oooh, I have been sooo goood with my diet…”

Swap in “skilled” and “evolving” to see what shifts for you.

Then drop me a line to tell me all about your results!

P.S. Please click here to sign up for my free mini-class “3 Ways to Reduce Stress TODAY!”