I talk a lot about the fact that language has such a powerful influence and impact on people’s lives. It’s extremely important for this simple fact: Whatever we choose to put our attention towards with the language we choose creates meaning in our minds. For example, when I use a word like Dad it may have positive affirming emotions attached to it for some, while for others it may have very painful emotions. The meaning we give to a word is going to direct or determine the emotions that we create in the language we all use.
In today’s world, if we use a phrase like ’me too’, we experience very powerful meanings… much different than if we had used those same two words together three years ago. This example emphasizes how critical setting a tone is in our language: The meaning we give to something is going to create positive or negative emotions. Sure, society has warped much of the English language to mean something completely different than its original form, but it’s how we choose to use language to express our truth that matters. There is energy behind words; low energy words generate force in the recipient and create resistance and tension between people. Our good intentions can be sabotaged by word selection. Self-sabotage can occur within ourselves through those inside-words we are constantly saying in our heads. High-energy words, on the other hand, create power and empowerment and draw us closer to conversation and alignment. Speaking clearly or plainly but not being deliberate in our chosen words may not have the meaning or impact you intend. For those of you who overreact to the use of certain words by giving them inaccurate meanings, I say listen more intently to the context and how language is being delivered.
On our daily calendars, words can influence outcomes. Seeing the same negative word jotted down every day is like somebody continuing to repeat in your ear: be below average, settle, dabble. It’s the difference between an appointment feeling forced or doing it out of discipline vs. feeling empowered and excited. Understanding the significance of your language is an expression of what your upcoming week will be.
When we look at our calendars, often we use neutral, socially appropriate, or professional language, but the meaning to the words in the subject lines are often creating emotions of suffering, dabbling, or pain instead of setting a tone of successful outcomes for your time. We think, “I’ll be disciplined and committed because it’s logically the smart thing to do”, only to dread the experience or procrastinate and avoid it entirely with some elaborate excuse about why you couldn’t complete the task. For example, let’s use the word workout: Break that apart and say, work-out, or diet (die); who wants to do that? The meaning we’re giving is not creating a feeling of something you want to do. Hence, when you’re filling up your calendar, the language you use will determine the tone of the emotions associated to an activity. Instead of ‘workout’, maybe replace it with ‘exercise my healthy beautiful body’. Instead of ‘diet’, write, ‘eat a delicious healthy breakfast to have clarity, energy, and focus for the upcoming day’. Other words people commonly use on their calendars that may represent things they really don’t want to do are things like ‘quit smoking’, ‘start weight loss program’, ‘weekly meeting with boss’, ‘math test’, or ‘annual review’. This language will never offer the results that we desire because what we’re telling ourselves is to stop doing something and thereby putting fearful emotions into our language. Studies have shown that when we use affirming language, telling ourselves to do something that moves us towards the result we want, we are much more powerful. You can see in the language used in the picture below that you can move away from pain or toward a pleasure and be much more effective. Moving away from pain is felt as force, while moving toward pleasure is power. If meeting with your boss instills fear in you, try this language, ‘have a productive innovative meeting with my boss setting me up for promotion’. This subject reflects the experience you want to have!
Have you ever overheard a parent say to their child, “Don’t hit your brother!”? Instead of these words, wouldn’t it be better to give affirming meaning to what we want the child to do? Effective language would be to tell them to ‘love your brother or sister’, or maybe ‘I want you to take good care of your sibling’.
What if you took that same approach with yourself and put the same kind of effort and intention in the subject lines of appointments and events on your calendar? Do this for you, because the word choices we make have more impact than we realize on influencing the meaning and emotions that we create within ourselves. You can shift all of your outcomes in a powerful, joyful way; it’s all in a word!
When choosing your words, question what the emotions are that you’re going to be projecting. Begin conversations with curiosity, empathy, and compassion.
Example: My son is in Advanced English in high school, and he has a very difficult teacher. He had been depressed because he was failing one specific type of test the teacher was using. My wife and I sat down with the teacher and said, “Here’s where we see that our son is struggling. We can see where he’s failing on these specific quiz’s that you give him”, and we came up with a plan on how to help him improve. This was about a month ago. He came home yesterday and said that his teacher had not done anything we suggested, and he is still failing. I could see and hear his frustration and depression. Now, if we go back to that teacher and say, “Why haven’t you done anything we suggested?”, we would be using language that evokes feelings of judgement, or forcing accusations, making her feel that she had done something wrong. This is ineffective language for positive communication. But, if I just simply said, “Can you please help me understand what you have done since our last meeting?”, she will be in an open level of receiving. Then, based on her response, I’m able to create outcome strategies to work with her versus blaming and expecting that she’s already failed our son. It’s critical that the words we’re using with our inside voices are paused and our outside voices are deliberate. You want your language to put the receiver in an open mode versus defensive, allowing them to feel safe and remove the walls and body armor, and hear anything you say. When people are already in their head figuring out what they think they’re going to do to defend themselves, there ends up being no communication at all.
As you learn just how much language matters, you will start to see how words can serve you more when it comes to respecting yourself as well as others. There’s a world of difference between speaking your truth and speaking your truth through love. We can all train ourselves to be intentional before words are used or before you put words leisurely on the pages of your calendar. In a very short amount of time you can learn to master language. What I am asking you to do, for your sake and the sake of our society, is slow down and be intentional. This will lead to better results instead; better results beats doing everything so fast and being ineffective. Take time to put quality emotions and intentions into all forms of communication. The world already moves so fast with all the technology that we all feel the need to stop and take a breath. When you stop to jot something on your calendar, take a moment and say something uplifting like, ‘I will a have successful profitable meeting with client to support their success’.
If you want to have an extraordinary life, begin with ensuring these components are in your language and know your words are one of the greatest influences. It’s never too late for us to make a change; to flip the switch. This effort does not require perfection, but we should always strive for excellence. I want you to experience an extraordinary life, or as we say in my teachings, live a Legendary Lifestyle®
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