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  • Writer's pictureMichael Hernacki

Watch Your Language. It's Your Past and Future.



When we were growing up, we were told, "Watch your language." That usually meant, stop using words that were rude, crude, or vulgar. Good advice.


Actually, "Watch your language" is advice that’s valuable in a more profound and important way. In studies of human behavior and language, researchers consistently find how truly powerful our words are. So much so, that we must be very careful about the words we choose, because our words literally help to create our reality.  


Your words not only reflect who you are, they predict what you will become


If you've ever read a self-help book or listened to a motivational tape, you’ve probably learned about "affirmations" and how they work. You're told to repeat strong, positive statements again and again, on the theory that the mind responds to these messages and actually helps to create in reality the idea you’re affirming.


Affirmations are valuable. I've used them to good effect for many years. But this message is not about that. It's about the language you use in your everyday life.


Victim Language vs. Powerful Language

victim is someone who relinquishes control of their life to someone or something else. Rather than seeing themselves as the cause of what's happening, they see themselves as the effect. We’ve all acted as victims at one time or another in our lives. When you play the victim, you don't have reasons for what you do, you have excuses. When you're a victim, your life isn't something you create, it's something that's done to you. 


A good sign of whether you're acting like a victim is the language you use. Here’s some "victim" language:

—I can't…

—I need…

—I should…

—I have no choice.

—If only they…

—You make me feel…

—It's too late, too far, too expensive, etc.

—I'm too old, too young, uneducated, out of shape, etc.


You might find such language discouraging, even depressing. But it has one strong appeal: When you're talking that way, you get to avoid taking responsibility for your life. It's easier to blame someone or something else for what you don't like about your life than it is to make yourself the cause and admit your life is your own creation. 


The truth is, your life IS your own creation, whether you admit it or not. Your life is the result of choices you make, every day, consciously or not. When you "own" these choices, when you see yourself as the cause of what your life looks like, you put yourself in charge—and put yourself into a position to change things for the better.  


The fastest way to make that change is to purposely start using "powerful" language. Some examples:  

—I can…

—I feel…

—I want…

—I create…

—I control…

—I choose to… 


Try This Little Experiment

Here’s some advice that’s easy to follow. For one day (today, for example), monitor your speech and note how many times you use "victim" language. When you catch yourself, simply change the words to a more powerful statement. 


If you see something you like on Amazon or in a store, and it has a big price tag, rather than say, "I can't afford that," say "I choose to use my money for something else right now," or “I’ll start saving the money and buy that later.”


If you're tired and overworked, rather than say, "I need a break," say "I want a break." A small difference? Maybe, but the effect of changing one word, over time, can be huge. Don't believe it? Try it for a week and see for yourself.  


 


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