Thinking in Other Words
You hear the expression "in other words" all the
time, and probably use it yourself. But how often do you actually
think about the words you are using, and the effect they may
have? Do you sometimes change the words you use in order to change
your perspective? If not, maybe it is time to start.
The words we choose affect how we see things and even our
physiology. This isn't a new idea, and it is easy to demonstrate
it. To prove it to yourself, have a friend try to relax while
you tell him, "make that tension jump right out of those
muscles." Then try it again with, "let the tension
drain from your muscles." Either instruction communicates
the same basic idea, but you'll find that the second is more
effective at getting the desired result.
In other words, we use words to accomplish something, so why
not use the words that are best for the purpose? This makes sense
in communicating with others, but it is perhaps especially important
in communicating with oneself. The words you use in your own
"self talk" can dramatically affect whether you get
the results you want in life.
For example, suppose you repeatedly say something like, "I
can't handle this," when in a tough situation. What you
are doing, of course, is programming your subconscious mind to
believe that you are not capable of certain things. With time,
this will become more true the more you say it. That probably
isn't the result you want.
As a matter of fact, you are probably just frustrated or tired.
You are "handling" the situation in some way, but you
would like to do so in a better way. Why not say that? Every
time you are tempted to say "this is too much for me,"
or "I can't handle this," say, "I will find a
better way to deal with this." This kind of instruction
to your subconscious mind is bound to be more productive.
Some Better Words
Here are a few words or phrases that may not be getting you
the results you want, and some possibly more productive alternatives.
They are just to get you thinking. Use them if they make sense
for you, but experiment with your own alternatives as well, always
thinking in terms of the goal, and which words are most likely
to help achieve it.
"I can't..." Possible replacements: "I can..."
or "I choose not to right now.."
"It's always the same..." Possible replacement:
"Sometimes this happens..."
"I always do that... Possible replacement: "Sometimes
I make this mistake..."
"It's so overwhelming..." Possible replacement:
"I am busy with many goals..."
"I have to..." Possible replacement: "I choose
That last one reminds you to accept responsibility for your
actions, and so you either reaffirm them, or you change them.
Either way it can prevent you from thinking that others or the
"situation" forces you to do things - a very negative
and unproductive belief. Find areas like this where your beliefs
or repeated statements are getting in the way of your success,
and start finding better words.
You'll notice that "never," and "always"
commonly show up in phrases that are counter-productive. These
can be powerful demotivators. "I always screw up,"
or "This never works for me," are not likely to help
you get results that you want. Avoid this kind of over-generalizing,
unless it is more like, "I always find a way to achieve
my goals." In other words, start using other words.