Words have power - Choose them wisely

Do you remember growing up? Some of the things your friends, enemies, teachers, parents said to you still stick with you today? They may still even be part of what you believe about yourself or how you see yourself and influence your behaviour and results.

Words have so much power, many of us do not realise the impact they can have on our lives, even many years later.


If you were constantly told at school that you were stupid, or that you would never amount to anything, then eventually you would believe that about yourself and your actions would align themselves to ensure those words were true. If you ever came up against a challenge you would convince yourself that it was too hard or that there was no way you could overcome it. You may never have tried for that promotion at work because you believed that you weren’t good enough and there was always going to be someone better. Often these beliefs stay with us well into adulthood even when they no longer serve us or we know they are not true, they can still limit our true potential.

Within the words we speak is an emotional potency. Each word that we use can have a colossal impact. A word from a friend, a coach, or a manager, may, at first glance, seem inconsequential. But never think of words as inconsequential. Instead, think of them as powerful. Words can build up or tear down. They can motivate or discourage.
Words influence others and build relationships at work and personally. Simply put, language and the words you use have a profound impact on your life.

But I am not only talking about the words you say to others here, but also the words you say to yourself, (your self talk) and there are some things we need to understand about how the subconscious mind works to realise the importance of choosing the right words and language on a daily basis that will move us towards, instead of away from, our goals.

Below are some ideas around language and thought patterns - consider whether any of the below are impacting your progress:-

Focus on what you want.
If someone says to you “don’t think about the pink elephant”, what’s the first thing that springs to mind? A pink elephant of course! In order to make sense of the instruction the mind has to get a picture in our head of the object – which means we have now done what we have been told not to do. The mind cannot process negatives, so it just ignores or discounts them and focusses on the other words/instructions. This works with goal achievement too. When people think about or say out loud what they don’t want or what they want to avoid, they often produce that in their lives, because that is where their minds are focussed. So, instead of saying to yourself “I don’t want to be fat / overweight / unfit” say what you want with intention “I want to be slim”, “I want to weigh 70Kg”, “I want to be fit and healthy”.

All or nothing thinking
We often see ourselves or tell ourselves we have been ‘good’ or ‘bad’ based on what we have eaten. You have to be perfect in your eating and exercise habits or you are a failure. It is impossible, impractical and downright foolish to expect perfection. This kind of thinking is more likely to throw you into a binge cycle that will feel impossible to break – ‘well, I have had one spoon of ice-cream, I may as well finish the whole tub!’ If you succumb to this sort of thinking, you will never measure up and always be disappointed in yourself as no matter how much progress you make it will never be enough.

Disqualifying the positive 
Someone says how great you look and how much weight you have lost and all you can think/talk about is the 10 pounds you still have to lose! We say things to ourselves that we would never dream of saying to another person. If you wouldn’t say it to someone else, don’t say it to yourself either. Recognise and acknowledge how far you have come and focus on that.

Magnification , minimisation and comparisons
Similar to the above, you overexaggerate one instance of overeating. You berate yourself and feel bad, which can then lead to more overeating. In the grand scheme of things, what is one ‘bad’ lunch/dinner? Forget about it and refocus on what you want to achieve and why you started this journey in the first place – get back on that horse. Also, do not compare yourself to others – everyone is different – you may have been working really hard at it for months and only lost 5 pounds, whilst someone else has lost twenty. Be happy for them, and be proud of yourself or you are only heading for disappointment, anger and frustration.
Change your vocabulary one word at a time – there are some words that need to be eradicated from your conversations

Try – the enemy of successful goal-setting. The word “try” or “trying” implies that you doubt whether you will be successful. When you say ‘try’ you are telling your sub-conscious mind that you might not be able to do it. Ever hear anyone say “I’m trying to lose weight” – are you convinced that they are going to give it everything they have got? In the words of Yoda “do or do not, there is no try”.

Can’t – Just stop using this word altogether! (Didn’t your parents always say “there’s no such word as can’t”!) When you use the word ‘can’t’ it implies you are totally powerless. If you catch yourself using it, replace it with ‘can’ or ‘will’ and if it is really impossible then use ‘unable to’ instead, and if it’s something you just don’t want to do, then say ‘I don’t want to….’ Instead of ‘I can’t’.

Have to – “I have to go to the gym tonight” Really!! Who’s forcing you?, Who said? Using ‘have to’ implies you have no control over whatever it is you are referring to. In truth there is nothing you ‘have to’ do – you don’t even have to pay your taxes – you choose to pay your taxes or you will end up in jail! You always have a choice – ‘choose to’ or ‘want to’ – you will be amazed at the change in how you feel about doing these things when you change the language you use.

Should – ‘Ooh I shouldn’t eat that’, and ‘I really should exercise’. Says who? Deep down inside we are all still oppositional teenagers. When we are told we “should” or “shouldn’t” be doing something, we just want to rebel. It reduces the likelihood that we will follow through and this could lead to shame, disappointment and guilt. These should statements often come out of what we think others expect of us. Again, do what you want to do and set your own expectations and guidelines.

Never – “I never do anything right”. Really – never? You mean there has never been a time when you did something right? 
This is called over-generalisation and these sorts of statements can really affect your emotional state? Think about how you feel when you say that out loud. Focus on what you can do and the successes you have had and build from there. Instead use “up until now……” or “when I am fitter, I will be able to……” or “next time I will…..”

The words you use determine the way you feel. The language you choose shapes the way you perceive reality. Your vocabulary gives meaning to your life. Make the right choices and select them wisely.

“Nothing is good or bad. It is thinking that makes it so” Benjamin Franklin