The language we use – both to communicate with others and our “self-talk” (that voice in your head) – affects our lives. Our word choices produce feelings. Think about something really sad … you’ll soon feel sad. Or think sexy thoughts and see what happens! So, we definitely know that our thoughts create our emotions. And emotions create behaviour … which is how we interact with others and the world around us. Therefore, choosing your words can change your life. In fact, research has now shown that the words we use actually changes our DNA – our blueprint for life.
Here are some suggestions for changing your thoughts and therefore your emotions and therefore your life. Make these swaps and see what happens:
- SHOULD, MUST, GOT TO, HAVE TO, OUGHT TO … replace with COULD, WANT TO, WOULD LIKE TO. Example: I should look for a new job …. I want to look for a new job.
- BUT … replace with AND. Example: I love you but … I love you and your quirks. BUT can negate a positive – and create one. Example: I feel really tired … BUT it’s a lovely day (ie, find a positive).
- I DON’T MIND … replace with I’D LIKE TO. Take control of your choices.
- TRY … replace with nothing (delete it). Example: I’m going to try going on a diet this week … I’m going to go on a diet this week. That sounds much more likely!
- JUST … replace with nothing (delete it). Example: I’m just like that – I just get these dark thoughts. (This sounds really passive, permanent and beyond your control.) I’m like that – I get these dark thoughts. (Sounds much less permanent and like something you could change.)
- ALWAYS, NEVER, EVERY TIME, COMPLETELY, MY WHOLE LIFE … question whether these are actually true. Nothing is forever. We can usually replace these with SOMETIMES, OFTEN, OCCASIONALLY.
These ideas come from NLP (neuro-linguistic programming) and are things I’ve learned from the amazing therapist Ben Oakley.