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I’ve always loved words.
Growing up, I’ve been writing poetry, stories, and blogs, enjoying the exploration of various languages, and eagerly flying through piles of books.
So when I later realised the profound impact of words and language in mindset coaching and personal development, it was a beautiful convergence of my two big passions.
The power of words on our growth, expansion, healing, and transformation is incredible.
What I want to share can be fairly well summed up in this quote by Hafiz, “The words you speak become the home you live in.”
We’re always listening to what we say to ourselves, and these stories create or perpetuate our idea of limitation, stagnation, and demotivation. But the intensity and energy behind our words also matter. Like, a lot.
So here are some ways we can watch our lingo, and as a result, watch our feelings, experience, and lives transform for the better:
I make no secret of the fact that I strongly dislike this word. During my recovery, I committed to removing it from my ever-expanding vocabulary of freedom. Shoulds, to me, belong to somebody else. If I feel like I should do something rather than want to/intend to, I’m quite often borrowing expectations for my life from someone else, society, or perfectionism.
None of those, however, are here to create my life. I am. So I don’t do shoulds anymore, and if you find it’s a heavy word for you, too, I’d suggest removing it. Check in with other words that make your heart sink or head melt or anxiety rise and come up with a more delightful alternative.
Much like how the word “should” can feel heavy and incongruent, there are lots of other words that weigh down our lives that we could begin shifting. Start identifying the intensity of the adjectives you use about yourself and your life, how you describe your experiences, and how you speak about your feelings.
For example, “My whole entire day has been such a disaster, I literally can’t do this anymore” is pretty intensely charged, right?
What about, “I’ve had a few challenges today, and I’m looking forward to tomorrow being better,” or, “Today wasn’t the best, but I got through it.”
Find words that soften your challenges and strengthen your passions, positive moments, and wins. This isn’t about dismissing or invalidating your experience, but choosing to be the victor, not the victim, and seeing the event/experience more clearly and in a way that supports you moving forward.
Also, check the meanings you’ve attached to certain words. For example, I used to tear myself apart in my mind when I thought I was “fat,” as though that was the worst thing in the world that I could be. My therapist at the time suggested I started saying “lipidy” instead of “fat,” and the word “lipidy” would make me giggle, which shifted my state immediately.
Keeping that in mind changed my experience. We can do the same if we’re really ticked off and instead say, “I’m a bit peeved.” It changes the energy behind the word and that gives us a different experience.
Call yourself out on your exaggerations. I know calling ourselves out isn’t the most fun thing ever, but remember, what kind of home do you want to be creating for yourself? Do you want your mind to be a friendly haven or a dramatic minefield? Words to watch out for are: I never, I always, I can’t, they all, everyone. You know those who seem real but actually are making our suffering much more sizeable than it needs to be?
This practice is called recovering deletions, distortions, and generalisations, and it basically helps us reframe our experiences, so they’re more accurate, supportive, and honest. When we have a certain belief, like we’re not good enough or nobody likes us, our brains start looking for evidence to support these ideas and filter information from our day-to-day in, specifically, to back that stuff up. If we can start finding the truth of the matter, we open up the picture of our world and make it much more pleasant.
For example, “I never do anything right.” What’s been deleted, distorted, or generalised here? All evidence of doing anything right ever, poof, gone! And we create this idea that we’re absolutely useless and put our brain in gear to hone in on every mistake we make and perceived failure that occurs. We find what we look for; our brains are programmed for it.
Catch yourself, dear reader, and get back to the truth. Never? Anything? Is that true? Find evidence of everything you do right and dispel this mean myth.
Watching my language has been an absolute gift for me. It lightened up my mind and my life. It gave me back my inner empowerment, and it added humour to hardship; it ultimately transformed my whole experience.
I’d love to hear what words you’re getting rid of in the comments!