The Toxicity of ‘Try’

Most people would, I think, agree that there is power in words.  Otherwise, why speak?  Why sing?  Why use words when we cast a spell instead of stay silent?  Words give an extra oomph to things, and ephemeral, untouchable words can wound just as deeply as any physical weapon.

But there are some words that you just don’t want in your vocabulary because they are so negative, or hurtful, or just plain toxic.  For example, I can’t say the “N” word (think racism) because it feels, to me, like such a horrible, ugly word.  I can barely think it without shuddering and quickly moving on.

There are some words that are subtly toxic.  The word “try” is one of those.  As Yoda said (in his much-quoted admonishment to Luke), “Do, or do not. There is no try.”  We should all be thinking like Yoda here.  “Try” is a toxic word.

Now you’re probably asking why and wondering where I’m going with this.  We use this word all the time, after all, and it has no horrible connotations or denotations, no associations with racism or discrimination, no obvious negativity.  Yet it is negative.  It is terribly negative, and many of us use this word all the time without realizing what it does.

By saying you will try to do something, you basically set yourself up for failure.  You leave yourself open to the possibility of failure or non-accomplishment, and that’s what ends up tripping you up.  I’ve been saying for months that I’m trying to lose weight and eat healthier.  What I didn’t realize then was that by using “try” I was sabotaging myself.  By using “try” I was leaving wiggle room to fudge my eating habits and my exercise routine, and guess what, I failed in my goal.  All because of that insidious little word “try.”

“Try” makes you think that you have made a commitment when you haven’t.  “Try” makes you think you’re accomplishing something when in reality you haven’t.  “Try” leaves open the possibility for failure and by using it, more often than not you do set yourself up for failure because you have not fully committed to the action in question.  No one says “I’ll try to marry you,” they say “I will marry you.”  That’s just an example, but it’s a good one.  “Try” is a cop-out, a halfway waiting place in the mind, an insidious and underhanded attempt to commit to something but still be able to pull out if you don’t feel like doing it.  It is a lazy use of language that has become a common excuse for not doing things we have committed to.  How many times have you heard someone say “I tried to do X, but . . .” or “I’ll try to be there, but . . .”  This word is almost always followed by some kind of excuse or reason for not doing the action involved.  Now think of how many times you yourself have used this word to get out of something with a half-commitment. . .

In magick, we don’t want our spells to only go halfway.  We want our spells to go all the way, to do what we’ve intended them to do.  We don’t use “try” in our spells, so why do we use it in our everyday language?  By instinct, we know that “try” sabotages our spellwork, yet we apparently haven’t figured out that “try” sabotages the rest of our lives as well.  If we don’t use this word in magickal vocabulary, why in the world would we consider it acceptable in mundane vocabulary?


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