Words. They can build confidence or implant doubt, heal a relationship or destroy one, generate interest or suppress it in a mere phrase. Words express our deepest feelings, sell our skills and ideas, and set plans in motion every day. Words are the basis of communication and expression, but we often don’t even think about what we’re really saying. We often forget the simple fact that words have power. I read a terrific blog post by Seth Godin today. In it, he describes how the words we choose greatly affect how we and our ideas are perceived by others. I’d like to take this idea a step further, though; I think the words we use also influence the way we perceive ourselves.
Tell yourself something often enough, and you’re bound to believe it. Tony Robbins once said, “The words that we attach to our experience become our experience, regardless of whether it’s objectively accurate or not.” What does that mean, exactly? Well, when on a diet, saying “I can’t eat that brownie,” which implies denial and restriction, will make a person feel deprived. On the other hand, saying “I choose not to eat the brownie” implies options and, therefore, empowerment. OK, you still might feel a little deprived, but the focus is on your choice: your reason for denying yourself that treat, which has a great reward. Imagine what weeks of saying “I choose to” instead of “I can’t” might do for your thought patterns which, ultimately, affect your belief system. And what about stress? Let’s face it, life can be very challenging today. What if, instead of saying “This is killing me,” you tried saying, “This ‘feels like’ it’s killing me, but I’ll make it through?” The second validates the difficulty, but doesn’t grant it the power to destroy you.
We use thousands of words a day. If we want to be successful and happy we need to choose them carefully. Lao Tzu said, “Watch your thoughts; they become words. Watch your words; they become actions. Watch your actions; they become habit. Watch your habits; they become character. Watch your character; it becomes your destiny.” Our words and thoughts work in a constant cycle, influencing outlooks and outcomes. To create a life we can love, we have to think about what we say, especially to ourselves.
photo credit: englishedrissis.blogspot.com