Did you ever think about the power of words? I love words. As a kid, I can remember having dictionaries for children. It was a large, yellow, two-volume set complete with pictures. I recall reading them with my mom. As an adult, I still enjoy reading the dictionary.
I know, I can be a total square.
The Power of Words in Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP)
Imagine my joy when I learned about a little secret therapy weapon called Neuro-Linguistic Programming.
What is Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP)?
NLP is the understanding of the connection between the mind, our language, and our behavior. Our choices begin with a thought, typically followed by a feeling and then an action. So, the nature of our thoughts will ultimately affect everything. From how we interact with people to which food choices we make.
Let’s do a little experiment to explore the power of words.
I want you to say a few words to yourself. But before you do, I want you to take a breath and notice how you feel.
Ok, here are the five words:
- I should have
- I failed
- It’s hard
How do you feel? Better, worse or the same?
The Power of Words When Using the Right Ones
The amazing thing is, whether you are aware of it or not, your mind and body responded to this language and your thoughts.
These are words that can cause a stress response when used in a negative context.
And if you think and speak them frequently, you are more likely to feel negative. You may experience less success and gratitude. Possibly even less hope and more susceptibility to depression.
So, now what?
Let’s change the words!
If you swap these five statements, you could entirely shift the way you experience your life and the power of words.
#1 No becomes How Interesting/Possibly/I May Consider It/Perhaps
Exchange a conversational No for how interesting, possibly, I may consider it or perhaps.
In relationships, we often use No against each other. It’s a way of flatly dismissing someone’s opinion. It immediately interrupts the flow of discussion, damages intimacy and creates loneliness via disconnection.
Don’t get me wrong; there are times in which No is entirely appropriate.
However, I want you to notice how often and when you use it.
Using it to set boundaries or to express what you need is very different from dismissing others.
Think about what it feels like to hear No.
Do you ever feel dismissed or misunderstood?
Those are the circumstances I want you to shift.
Begin by using No in a more sophisticated way. A phrase such as I may consider it feels more open and thoughtful. It allows for connection and greater openness.
#2 But becomes And
Next, exchange But for And.
I was recently speaking with someone struggling with depression. I noticed this person used the word But each time I offered tools and suggestions.
Instead, I encouraged her to use the word And.
I love using a word that creates inclusion instead of exclusion.
If I say I want to feel better, but it’s too hard, it feels very different than I want to feel better and it’s still painful right now. The second version allows for hope and possibility. Which we know, from research, leads to better outcomes.
#3 I Should becomes I Could
Consider exchanging I should for I could.
Should is a word that generates shame and an internal sense of obligation or pressure.
If I should and then I don’t, I feel like shit.
If we replace the word should with could I suddenly experience a sense of choice! Notice how often you say I should or you should. Nobody likes a should-er, Lol. I’ve been known to take this could thing to the next level. I often say, “I would invite you to consider.” This is an advanced version of could.
#4 I Failed becomes I Learned
Try exchanging I failed for I learned.
If we reinforce failure, we are less likely to get back up again.
The word failure strengthens a limiting belief.
It promotes fear, whereas learning feels estimable. Like I did something valuable. These words generate different internal sensations.
#5 It’s Hard Becomes It’s New
Finally, exchange it’s hard for its new.
Just thinking about how hard it is to forgive someone or to change old habits makes it overwhelming. When we consider it’s merely new instead of hard, we feel more inclined to take action, and we are more gentle with ourselves. Hard leads to giving up whereas new leads to persistence.
So, yeah, remembering all this and catching yourself in the moment takes practice. Its new, Lol.
Have you ever considered how it would feel to hang out with the voice in your mind?
Like, if your best friend or partner spoke to you the way you talk to yourself; how would it feel?
I would like to invite you to practice this new way of thinking and speaking.
You will notice better moods, more positive thoughts, more mindful behavior a more open mind and heart.
In sum, you will feel deeper connections, more love, and less judgment. From merely using new and different words.
Oh words, aren’t they amazing!!
“She was fascinated with words. To her, words were a thing of beauty, each like a magical powder or potion that could be combined with other words to create powerful spells.” ~Dean Koontz, Author
Photo by Allebach Photography