Powerful language can change the way we think and act. Martin Luther King Jr. and JFK moved us to act in ways that supported important ideals such as patriotism, unity, and self-sacrifice. If they could inspire the masses with just words, imagine what each of us can do to inspire ourselves. We all have the potential to tap into and practice the same skills.
The old saying “Talk is cheap” means that it’s easier to say you will do something than to actually do it. But, talk gets the ball rolling. It sets the tone for action. And, the words we choose are crucial to positive action.
What word or phrase moves you? Words like “incredible”, “destruction”, “crazy”, gamble”, “sexy”, and “amazing” usually grab our attention. What type of people inspire you? What types of images, sounds, gestures trigger or fuel your desire to act? What emotions are stirred when someone says, “You won!” vs. “Your head wasn’t in the game”? Words can be encouraging, but also hurtful. And, how we interpret them can lead us to change our focus, create a plan for success, or on the flipside, feel defeated and moved to inaction.
Study inspirational speakers, and you will find that their energy is palpable. They create a unique dynamic with their facial expressions, body language, phraseology, and timbre and volume of their voice. But above all, they use the vocabulary of powerful people. They influence us with their intensity and their ability “paint a picture”, to help us to see their vision as they do.
What is the likely outcome for a positive thinker who is diagnosed with a disease? You guessed it. They spend little time looking for sympathy, and more time creating a mindset that will serve their recovery process – envisioning positive outcomes for treatment, channeling inner healing through meditation, prayer, gratitude, and affirmations. Forward thinking people have an uncanny ability to rise above adversity, and set the bar higher than it was before. They believe in the power of thoughts and beliefs, and that whatever you can think is possible. And those same optimists will use their experiences as fuel, creating new strategies to deal with future obstacles.
Take a minute or maybe two, to think about what you say to yourself on a daily basis. What if your doctor instructed you to refrain from eating fried foods, and a day later, you ate some fried chicken? Would you feel guilty and say to yourself “I shouldn’t have…” or “I feel like a failure”, or “why bother trying”? We can consciously change the self-talk to something like, “I enjoyed that chicken, but I feel ready to eat healthier tomorrow”, sparing the self-blame, and making progress easier.
Try some powerful words used by leaders and influencers: “I will…”, “ I have a dream…”, “I can…”, “ I want to…” “I choose to…”, and “I see…in my future”. Messages to yourself like “I can’t have…”, “I need to…”, “My doctor doesn’t want me to…” only serve to keep you in a comfort zone of sorts, and stunt the flow of positive thoughts that promote positive actions. Doubt, negativity, and fear translate into hesitation and missed opportunities.
If we replace words that invite drama with words that focus on success, our perspective and stress level will change. Words like “hate”, “anger”, or “terrified” work well in novels, but in real life, they only serve us in a negative way. Instead of saying “I hate getting up in the morning”, why not put a positive spin on it by saying, “I would like to learn ways to feel more refreshed in the morning”. Another example is: “I’m having a panic attack!”. While you may be feel stressed, the choice of words creates drama, and will even perpetuate more physical or emotional symptoms. Try something like “I feel a bit off – I’m going to sit down for a minute”.
A change in mindset may take a bit of practice, but the outcome can be life-altering. Examine your beliefs about positivism. Is it a valuable commodity? If you are willing to listen to yourself for a day or two, and really take some mental notes, you may be surprised how many times a day you beat yourself up, let yourself down, or expend your energy negatively, e.g. cursing at a distracted driver. If we are what we eat, I’m guessing that we are what we think as well.
Now, consider what it is that you want to accomplish and what you are willing to try to get there. Is it time to get out of your comfort zone? Start to practice empowering, positive self-talk. Baby steps. In one single day, you will notice a difference. And, if it feels great, you may turn it into a habit, a really good habit. From there, you can develop an arsenal of strategies that will serve you well.
At this point, are you resisting the urge to say, “I don’t have the time to think about this” and instead thinking of alternatives? How about, “If I turn around one negative thought every day for two weeks, it will become easier to do. I’ll try it!”? My work is done here. Have fun!