You have probably heard these words by J. Brown before, “Words. So powerful. They can crush a heart, or heal it. They can shame a soul, or liberate it. They can shatter dreams, or energize them. They can obstruct connection, or invite it. They can create defences, or melt them. We have to use words wisely.” Indeed. Words are powerful! You are already aware that using sharp and piercing words can be very damaging and can destroy someone’s sense of self-worth. It is words that keep cold wars going between countries and bullying happening on school campuses. But are you aware that the words you use not only determine what happens to others but also to yourself?
Cognitive behaviour therapists have long known that our thoughts shape our behaviour. This means the language (words or way) we choose to comprehend, understand, express and share our experiences with the outer world have personal meaning and determine the outcomes we receive in life. If you want to be a successful professional, start speaking the language of success!
Why do you need to carefully orchestrate your speech? Your beliefs are formed by words. In other words, the words you use to describe your emotions, feelings, and experiences shape your beliefs. When you change the words you choose habitually to describe your experiences and to communicate not just with others but also with yourself, your beliefs change. This clearly suggests that you have the innate ability to change yourself and the quality of your life by taking control of your words. Here’s how you can achieve that:
- Don’t sweat the small stuff: What if you could stop dreading Monday mornings or the long list of unanswered emails, to-do lists, and the files sitting heavily on your desk? What if you could stop worrying about all the things that could go wrong, make sense of the madness, and discover your super productive self? The answer is simple. A stable and calm mind can work as a source of inspiration and empower you to get more done every day! Keep your mind uncluttered by encouraging open and honest communication with yourself and with others. Commit yourself to being upfront about everything. Avoid jargons. Use simple and clear sentences to state what you want, expect, need and desire. You will be saved a lot of trouble.
- Sort your beliefs: Consider the lessons you can learn from life challenges. Be deliberate in your description of your experiences- using the right words, the right tone, and the right intensity. You’ll ultimately be able to tone down the intensity of negative emotions. For example, instead of describing the meeting that went wrong as “horrible” consider describing it as “annoying.” Similarly, instead of saying that the break-up with your ex was “absolutely devastating”, re-phrase that to “upsetting.”
- Take the time to embrace the chaos instead of feeling frightened by it. If your inner world is chaotic, you will encounter nothing but chaos at every step since the quality of your thoughts and beliefs directly govern your responses to whatever life throws at you and your responses, in turn, determine how people receive your energy and how things fold out in the long term. Practise describing chaotic experiences and difficult meetings as “adventures”, and “part of the journey”. Look at things as “unfolding,” “changing” and “evolving” rather than as “permanent”, “doomed” or “damaged.”
- Learn to accept your mistakes and forgive yourself. Forgive others. We say forgive yourself first because oftentimes it is harder to forgive ourselves than it is to forgive others. Please know that holding grudges consume your mental energy and destroy your inner peace. Try writing down apology letters to your younger self. Be open, accept your faults, but be kind, be accepting, be accommodating. Instead of saying “I’m still ashamed of what you did 10 years ago”, try saying to yourself “well, I know you did that because you didn’t know any better. I’m proud of your journey from there to here, really proud of who you’re becoming”. How does this make you feel? You’ll notice that you don’t feel so guilty and ashamed anymore. Simply re-writing can shift your perspective.
- Learn to celebrate small successes. It is even more important if you have a team working under you. Celebrating and encouraging words radically transform willingness to go the extra mile to achieve goals. What’s better? Giving honest feedback to yourself and others can even help build trust and credibility which are critical ingredients for transforming emotions, enlisting others in your cause, and shaping the course of destiny.
Remember, words are powerful and are a hint to our inner beliefs. These beliefs shape us. Build your beliefs on a solid foundation. Change your words and transform your life!
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