Several years ago at a personal-growth seminar, I had my first glimpse into how our society uses language, and the power of WORDS. There were several examples given and the one I remember the most was our collective use of the word "DON'T". Wow . . . as a parent of grade-school boys at the time, that was such a huge lesson. You see - when you use the word "Don't" at the beginning of a sentence, it actually produces the exact opposite effect of what you are going for! Imagine that! I immediately started re-training myself to phrase things positively and the results were pretty radical.
Cat Thompson has spent years researching this topic, and I found this particular article so eye-opening! Here is an excerpt:
. . . THE POWER OF “I”
“I” is a super-charged word. When you say, “I am,” the words that follow speak volumes – to yourself and others – about how you define yourself.
“I have, I choose, I love, I enjoy, I can, I will” are also words of strong intent. When we feel powerful, we naturally employ these kinds of “I” statements. When we feel less powerful or fear that our power will create conflict, we tend to water down our words, either by avoiding “I,” by saying “I don’t know” or “I am not sure,” or by following “I” with other ambivalent, unclear statements.
“I think I can,” for example, doesn’t have much power compared with “I know I can” or “I can” or “I will.” Neither does “I guess so” – a red flag to your listener that even if you agree to something, your heart will not be in it. “I can’t” is a strong statement of victimization, implying that circumstances outside of your control are running things, and you have no power to change them.
Another common phrase – “I want” – tends to distance us from the things we yearn for rather than bringing them closer. “Want” means “to desire without having.” So, by establishing ourselves in a state of “want,” we set ourselves up to forever pine for something we accept as out of reach.
Substituting “I have” for “I want” is a good way of projecting ourselves mentally into the realm of having and can also make us aware of all the unconscious reasons why we do not yet have the thing we are wanting. Practice using “I have” or “I choose” instead of “I want” and see what kinds of reactions you observe in yourself.
WOW!! Like I said, powerful stuff!
In addition to having awareness around the words we are speaking, it's also important to have some sensitivity to what we are hearing.
This could mean having clear boundaries with family or friends who have dripped negativity to you throughout your life, (which = hearing negative things about YOU) or choosing to surround yourself with people who are upbeat and positive as opposed to those who think their lives are horrible and complain all the time (which = hearing negative things about THEM). Seriously - clear all the negativity!
Another place those negative messages can sneak in without us even noticing is in the music we listen to! For example I've recently noticed how much Country Music references ALCOHOL, and I find it so frustrating that those messages are being imparted to my teenage son - and that somehow it makes it OK. (Even though he's underage and it's really NOT OK.)
One of my favorite coaching homework assignments is to ask my clients to pick a Theme Song! Because as strong as those negative messages can be, the positive ones can be magical! So that's what we're going to do this week . . . pick a theme song!
To give you some ideas, here is a partial list of the songs I've adopted at different times over the last year or so:
Break Free - Ariana Grande
Fly - Maddie and Tae
Freedom - Allen Stone
Onto Something Good - Ashley Monroe
Something's Coming - Barbara Streisand
(yes, you can change your theme song as often as you'd like - there are no rules!)
I'd love to know what you come up with, if you want to leave a message in the comments.
In the meantime enjoy your music, and pay attention to the language you are using . . . it has a far greater impact than you can imagine!
Love and Light,
Meet me here on Saturdays for some weekly vibes - honoring the week that has past, and clearing the way for what's new. Gather your journal and favorite pen, along with a hot cup of coffee/tea/chai - and settle in for 30 minutes dedicated to YOU.