Remember when we were kids and got caught saying a bad word?
Many of us were told to “watch your language. " When I was a kid, I never really understood what that meant. As an adult and a therapist, I've come to appreciate another meaning for “watch your language" when it comes to changing our lives.
The language that we use as we talk about problems and how to solve them greatly affects our capacity to change.
How to watch your language
For example, countless numbers of people talk about “losing weight. " Sounds just fine, doesn't it? But stop and think for a moment about the word “lose. "
When we lose something, what have we conditioned our brains to want to do next? That's right; we want to find what we've lost.
Could that be part of why so many people regain weight after they lose it?
A better way to talk about desired changes in weight is to say, “I want to get rid of some weight. "
While I realize this may be an oversimplitication about weight, it's not an oversimplification about language.
Some people may say that it's just semantics. Maybe so, but my answer is that everything is semantics. This is due to how our brains process language.
A brain operates like a computer: garbage in and garbage out.
Just about everything we buy comes with an owner's manual. The problem with learning how to use our brains is that no one ever gave us an owner's manual.
How many of us, when presented with a new possibility for our lives, say something like, “I would never be able to do that"?
We say these words and then our brains believe them
In the book Illusions by Richard Bach there's a quote that applies here: “Argue for your limitations, and you get to keep them. "
Just a simple change of language, such as, “Let's see if I could do that, " makes a significant difference in how our brains respond. Our brains begin to look for ways to meet the challenge, instead of looking for reasons that we can't.
Another way in which we need to watch our language is in using the phrase “I have to. " Think about how you feel in the morning, when you wake up and say to yourself, “I have to get up and go to work today. "
Consider how you might feel instead if you said to yourself, “I get to go to work today. " See the difference? Our brains naturally respond negatively to “have to" and positively to “get to. "
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