Have you ever taken the time to think about how the words you consistently use affect your life and wellbeing? The words we use affect our bio-chemistry thus affecting us physically as well as mentally and emotionally. There are very different chemicals released in your body if you say, “Ì was devastated” vs “I was a little concerned”.
Kelly McGonnigal (see on YouTube) has done some very interesting research regarding stress and its effect on your health. She has discovered it is not actually feeling stressed that causes the stress hormone, cortisol, to be released. It is the underlying belief that stress is negative that triggers it. If you believe stress is bad for you, cortisol is released and if you think stress is a good thing, for example, excitement, motivation for action, or a sign you are trying or learning something new, there will be no chemical reaction. So, it’s important to pay attention to the words we use and the beliefs and meaning we attach to the words.
The word “should” is one you might want to take a look at. How often do you tell yourself you “should” do something? Is it a word you habitually use to “make” yourself take action? Does it really feel motivating to you or are you thinking demotivating thoughts such as, “I have to but I don’t really want to”? For most people it is not a joyful call to action. It reminds us of childhood when we were told by parents to clean our rooms, go to church, visit Aunt Shirley, help Dad in the field when we really just wanted to play with our friends. “Should” gives up your power of choice and in reality, everything is a choice once you reach the age of 18. How different might your life be if you “choose to” or “get to” go to work vs “have to” go to work. Using the words “choose to”, “want to”, “get to” or “am grateful to” create thoughts and feelings that are more positive.
What about the word “hard”? Is life hard – hard to exercise when you have children; hard to start a business without money? The word “hard” can stop you from moving forward. It is like hitting a brick wall, stopping you dead in your tracks. What if you changed the word “hard” to “challenge”. A challenge is meant to be overcome. It leaves some wiggle room. It allows for creativity and ingenuity to enter the picture. You can now think of a way to get over the wall and on with the journey to achieve your goals.
Here are some more examples of alternate word choices:
Can`t – Choose not to; can`t yet; will
Failed – Learned a lesson; need more practice
Always/Never – Sometimes
Hate – It’s not for me, not my thing
Stupid – haven’t learned yet; haven’t had the opportunity to learn
Jerk, loser, idiot – Labels aren’t truth. What is the criteria used to decide if someone is a loser? If someone cuts you off in traffic are they really an idiot or might they have been temporarily distracted? Does one act make someone an idiot? 10, 50?
What if they do something smart 50% of the time? 70%, 80%? Are they then a genius?
Today, I invite you to notice the words you are using and how these words are affecting your thoughts, your emotions, your body and your actions. This week, change just one word you consistently use and see if you notice a difference.
Choose to enjoy today!
Alana Clow provides counseling and support at the Estevan Family Resource Centre Inc.