Choose your words carefully. The words that you use affect the way that you think. The way that you think affects the way that you feel. The way that you feel affects the way that you experience the world.
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Just another quick video about the importance of being aware of the way that we talk about ourselves and the way that we talk to ourselves.
I had a conversation recently with somebody who’s quite down on themselves at the moment. Now, as we were speaking, I noticed that they were using the word always a lot. Now always is one of the words that as a therapist and a coach we listen out for. While I was training it literally got drilled into me to listen out for, and now it really stands out when I hear people using it. So the fact that I’ve never noticed it with this person before, probably means its not how they usually talk, And it was probably just a byproduct of the way they were feeling at that moment.
What we have to remember is that the words that we use are a reflection of the way that we’re thinking and the way that we’re feeling. But what is also important to remember is that the words that we use, reinforce the way that we’re thinking and the way that we’re feeling.
Within the space of a few short sentences, I heard them say things like, I always look at things negatively. I’m always looking for the next thing that’s going to go wrong. I’m always, losing my cool with people at work. And I’m always getting frustrated with people over insignificant things.
Now think about that for a moment, imagine they were talking about somebody else. Imagine them saying: that person always look at things negatively, they’re always looking for the next thing to go wrong. They’re always getting frustrated over insignificant things. And that sounds like you’re talking about a person that you wouldn’t want to spend a whole lot of time with.
Using the word always a lot is very common, and it’s part of a bigger pattern called black and white thinking. Now, not many things in life are either one way or another most things are somewhere in between. But it’s very easy to fall into the trap of thinking that they are sometimes is never a helpful pattern. But it’s one that’s almost always there when people are stressed or anxious.
When we deliberately change the words that we use, we change the way that we think when we change the way that we think we change the way that we feel. And when we change the way that we feel, we change the way that we see the world.
Thankfully, it’s a very simple habit to break. Although it does take a little bit of discipline and forethought. The first thing that you need to do is to catch yourself doing it. And the way to do this is to start listening now for other people using the word always. So make a conscious decision that over the next few days, you’re just going to listen to conversations and see how often you can pick out the word always, you’ll be surprised how often you hear it. And as soon as you start to notice it in other people, then it’ll start to jump out at you when you use it as well.
The trick is that once you hear yourself using it, to stop and ask yourself the question, is that true? Do I always get frustrated over insignificant things? Or was there ever a time even once when it didn’t happen? And if there was, if there’s even one occurrence of it, then it’s not always.
And you might change your language to say, you know, I often get frustrated with people over insignificant things, but often is better than always. Or you could say, I’ve got a habit of getting frustrated with people over insignificant things. And that’s great, that’s really good language. Because if you can develop one habit, you can develop another habit instead and that begins to open up your mind to the possibility of change.
This is one very small thing and might seem insignificant at first. But remember that the words that you use are literally programming your thinking. Eating an unhealthy meal that tastes great isn’t going to hurt you if you do it once in a while but if you do it often it’s going to impact your physical health pretty quickly. The same is true with what we’re talking about here .
Taking care of the words that you use is taking care of your mental health. So why not give yourself a mental MOT? Listen out for other people using the word always. If it starts to jump out that you’re using it a lot then think about how you can phrase it differently and create a new habit. If you’re not then it’s a great feeling to know that you’re in good shape.