3 Reasons to Stop Saying “Try”

there is no try mr miyagiPart two of a two part post on my bid to rid our language of “try.” Check out Part one here. 

It is my hope (but not my expectation) that the word “try” is stricken from the English language. In yesterday’s post, I referred to the wisdom of great teachers that has led me to this admittedly unconventional position.

Sound extreme to stop using a word? Maybe, but here are three reasons why I think the world would be a better place if we all stopped saying “try”:

1. Impeccability of the word. I was first introduced to the idea of a try-less vocabulary in the Nia Blue Belt training. In Nia intensives and teaching practice, we are invited to follow The Four Agreements:

1. Be impeccable with your word.
2. Don’t take anything personally.
3. Don’t make assumptions.
4. Always Do Your Best.

Four simple yet profound agreements that have transformative power when followed (no easy task, I grant you). I recommend them highly to anyone.

In the Blue Belt, as an extension of the first agreement — impeccability of the word — we are asked to eliminate some words (including “try”) from our vocabulary. At first, I balked at the idea and defensively said that trying was a good thing to do. Trying showed willingness. Trying is about experimenting.

My teacher pointed out however, that when we say we are “trying” we are actually either doing it or not doing it, so why not say that? If I’m going to “try” some seaweed salad, what I’m actually doing is eating seaweed salad (even if only one bite). If I say I’m going to “try” to make it to your party, I’m either going to go or not go. There is no try. Be impeccable with your word: eliminate “try.”

2. “Try” feels weak to say. What’s something you want to do? Write a book? Start a business? Practice yoga? Whatever it is, you fill in the blank, but say these statements out loud:

“I am writing a book.” “I am trying to write a book.”
“I am starting a business” “I am trying to start a business.”
“I practice yoga.” “I try to practice yoga.”

How does it feel to say the two statements? Saying I want to “try to write a book” feels like I don’t really think I can so I’m giving myself an out before I even start. Saying I “try to practice yoga” feels whiny and defeated. Plus, the ones on the right make me want to wipe my tongue off with a napkin. Blech.

Eliminating “try” from my vocabulary is an act of recognizing my power and abilities, paving the way for what I want. Leaving off “try” is a way of stepping up and committing to what matters to me. Rather than hanging out in the muddy middle of the road (where I very well could be “squish like grape.”)

3. “Try” feels bad to hear. Whenever someone tells me that they will try to come to my class or my workshop or my ceiling painting party, I figure they are not coming. While there may be some level of desire to go, there is a greater desire not to or at the very least a greater inertia that will keep them from it. There may be a wish to spare my feelings if they simply don’t like my classes and they don’t want to paint my ceiling, but it would feel less yucky if they simply said they wouldn’t be there (see Agreement 2 above). Just as saying “try” makes me feel crappy, hearing “try” sounds like someone making an excuse before the fact. And just like that, before anything has happened, it feels pretty sure that it won’t.

Eliminating “try” is not the easy choice. It is breaking an old cultural (and perhaps personal) habit. It is an act of mindfulness to choose words with awareness and precision. Eliminating “try” is an opportunity to pay close attention and to say what you mean. It is an act of consciousness to recognize the energetic and emotional impact of the language we use. But most of all, letting go of “try” is an act of courage – a willingness to stand up for yourself in a decisive way.

Be a Jedi. Do, or do not. There is no try.

  1. weehah said:

    Honey. I have read this a few times. Still thinking on it. Meanwhile, I thought you might want to know about this typo. I love you. Good night.


    * sent from my iPhone so please pardon any typos *


    • Thank you! Always glad to know you are reading and thinking and telling me of typos. Love you, too. xo

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