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Language is a hugely important part of our lives—but for many of us, it’s not something that is often considered, unless when writing a paper, sending a work email, or being careful not to swear.
The words we use and the way we talk to ourselves are vital for spiritual and personal growth and can often be a mirror to how we really think about certain things.
One of my favorite phrases is, “Without awareness, there is no choice.”
Once we start to bring more awareness to the words we use and the way they impact our subconscious mind and our general outlook, we realize we have a choice in what words we use, don’t use, and how we use them.
The usage or the avoidance to use some words and phrases can be obvious, but it’s the more subtle and less obvious words and phrases that interest me—not only with the way we use them but also the shared notion that they influence our own sense of power.
The language and words we choose (and it is a choice, even if it doesn’t feel like it) to use can have a massive impact on the level of power and truth and even responsibility and accountability that we give to ourselves and others. Often, we don’t even know we’re doing it.
I’m sure if you’ve never said it, you’ve definitely heard others say it. The first example I’m using is a big one for me and one that has shifted something within me the more I choose the way I use it:
They triggered me.
It triggered me.
I was triggered.
You triggered me.
I will explain why I think the language around these types of phrases is not healthy for us, but first, I want to acknowledge that I do use the term triggered—but changed the way I use it.
Like most, I would often refer to the idea of “I was triggered” if I was talking about a situation where I felt something stir, and I reacted from my ego.
I still react from ego sometimes—we all do—but I’ve changed my language around the notion. I’ve learned to accept responsibility for my triggers, and therefore I’m constantly practicing to claim my power and accountability in the situation.
When I became aware that the reaction we call being triggered was a choice and not something that just happens, it changed my perspective.
I began to understand that I was choosing to react that way. A way that often creates more butting of heads and conflict. Now, instead of saying, “You triggered me,” I recognize instead that, “I allowed myself to be triggered by the situation.”
The most important thing is the allow. You or it didn’t have that power to trigger me, and I allowed it to happen because I’m still doing the self-work, and I am not allowing you/it to make me a victim.
And sometimes, we allow it to happen without any awareness until after the situation has blown up and potentially settled. But still, it was a choice—a choice we don’t have to choose again.
Nobody has the right or the power to make us feel anything unless we let them.
Read that again if you want. Nobody has the right or the power to make us feel anything…unless we let them. This includes our triggers. When we practice standing in our truth and in our power, we don’t need to feel anything that we don’t want to.
Even someone being deliberately mean or saying purposely personal and harsh things to us, we do have the power to choose not to react.
If we’re feeling strong and powerful and in our truth, these things will not knock us out because we will be able to take the time to understand and recognize that their words are coming from a space of pain and hurt, and their intention is to do the same because they are reacting from their ego.
We have the choice to do the same or not. These reactions are part of that trigger.
So, when we allow ourselves to be triggered, it is a choice. We’re choosing to react from that younger experience and space of our ego. Sometimes the reaction is hard to notice until after it has happened.
The language we choose to use after and in our own thoughts is also powerful. By saying that you allowed yourself to be triggered, it also means you’re not giving the other person or situation your strength and power. You’re acknowledging that it was a choice, and that gives you the platform to make a different choice next time.
It also allows us to step out of the victim mindset and into the fact that that is also a choice.
The way we use the words reaction and response also have the ability to bring more awareness and, possibly, insight into the way we think and the way we talk about ourselves and others.
Reactions can often be heated and immediate, especially in situations where we are or could allow ourselves to be triggered. We react by snapping back, calling someone a name, or we react by getting personal or even going within ourselves and fly away.
These reactions that are often the result of a trigger are not an outcome of our truth—and if we are not balanced in our truth, then we are giving our power away to someone or a situation by tuning in and allowing our ego to talk for us.
When we can take a moment to observe and wait to respond, we give ourselves the power to choose.
We can choose to listen to the ego trying to protect or prevent us from being hurt, even if it means causing a reaction and pain at the same time—or we can take a moment and consider the situation from a space of presence and respond from that place instead.
Recognizing that emotional reactions come from the ego—usually influenced by a past experience—and responses have the potential to come from the present moment means we give ourselves a choice and the power to stay in our truth.
Another word I think takes away both our power and our responsibility when we use it is the word “lucky.”
A few years ago, I was working on wellness retreats in both Ibiza and the French Alps. Whilst chatting to a distant family member, they told me, “Oh, you’re so lucky to do those things. I wish I had that kind of luck.”
I also remember when I was about 11 or 12 and had a conversation with my friend and his dad, who was saying that footballers (soccer players) were the luckiest people in the world. At the time, I disagreed that they were lucky because it took a lot of hard work and effort to become a professional athlete.
When having the conversation with family members, I wanted them to acknowledge that it wasn’t luck. I made the conscious effort to start practicing yoga and took myself to classes frequently for a decent amount of time before I then went on my teacher training and worked hard to qualify. I also spent a lot of time researching a few years later to find work, which is when I came across the opportunity to work on these retreats. I had to apply, and I had to pass interviews for these jobs—none of that was luck; it was a conscious effort and a recognition of potential opportunities.
Believe me, I know I was blessed to be in that situation. I was super grateful, and still am, but if I claim that I was lucky, it takes away the power and strength of the decisions I made and lessons I learned to get me there in the first place.
Claiming the luck of another can also be a sign that we’re sitting in a victim mindset.
We can recognize and embrace gratitude and the feeling of being blessed without separating our reality from our efforts and just saying we’re lucky.
If you’ve got something, it’s usually because you asked for it and earned it—that is not luck. Don’t diminish your power and strengths by putting it purely down to chance. Claim back your responsibility.
Similar to the trigger part, in discussions and arguments, or otherwise, when we use terms such as “you made me feel,” it can also take away elements of our power and our responsibility for our own actions and our responses.
Using phrases such as, “When this was said, I felt…,” instead of “you made me feel..,” allows us to claim responsibility for our own thoughts and feelings and, more importantly, it allows us to not give another person or situation the power to lower our energy or vibrations.
I’ve had many conversations with people in the past who have said things to me like, “Oh, it’s only words; they don’t matter. It’s the point of the words that matter, not the words themselves.”
With self-awareness and self-study, the choice of words we use is extremely important to the way we think, the way we behave, and the way we treat ourselves and others.
With the observation of the words we use, we get to look into the way we perceive things. Sometimes, the words we use represent a deeper sense of what is truly going on in our mindset. With a shift in a phrase or a switch of the word, we can transition from a victim mindset to someone that owns their own sh*t.
It’s the difference between focusing on what we don’t have in our lives and being grateful for what we have.
The power of the words that can tip that scale one way or the other is hugely important to the way we live our lives, our spiritual path, and peace of mind.
Take a look at the way you use the words you use. They—like everything in our lives—are a choice.
It might not seem like it, it might not be obvious, but we can change the words we use in order to change the energy we hold and project—and by that, we can reclaim the pieces of our power we’ve previously given away without even noticing.