In last week’s Masterclass, I talked about the importance of recognising your inner dialogue. I like to imagine it like an audio track that just plays continuously in the background of your mind; low enough that it seeps into your mind, but not too loud that you consciously hear it. When you do stop and really listen to the words or phrases you are telling yourself, they are often not very positive.
Sometimes this track is focused on replaying past situations or controlling future events. Your inner monologue has a huge impact on how you make decisions and the results you experience in your life. Becoming aware and consciously editing this ‘track’ where needed is extremely empowering and freeing. However, a recent chat with some friends at the weekend got me thinking about the POWER of the words we say out loud.
‘Words can change your brain’
Research by Andrew Newberg and Mark Waldman highlights the impact positive words can have on our brain. In their book ‘Words can change your brain’, they discuss how holding a positive word in your mind can stimulate different parts of your brain compared to a negative word. The longer you concentrate or use this positive word, the greater it can improve how you see yourself and others. It also spurs you to do actions that support this positive feeling. Whereas saying negative or hostile words out loud often actually increases the release of stress hormones around the body. It’s also important to note that this is a two-way process. Speaking out loud allows us to translate our thoughts into words AND then our words reinforce or shape our thoughts.
Think back on the last few conversations you have had today.
Are you vocalising mainly positive or negative words?
This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t talk through your stresses and challenges. We know there are lots of benefits to verbalising internal worries and fears. However, just a slight change in wording can have a great impact on how you think, feel and then act.
- ‘Today I have to…’
Take a moment and think of all the things you feel you ‘have’ to do today. Now get some pen and paper and instead of writing ‘I have to’, let’s write down ‘I get to..’
‘I have to do the food shop’ now becomes ‘I get to do the food shop’.
This subtle word change can shift you into a lighter feeling of gratitude. Every task we do today doesn’t have to feel heavy, like a huge burden.
As you go about your day today and you start to think about future tasks, I challenge you to change the phrase to ‘I get to’ and notice how that feels in your mind and body.
- ‘Why is this happening to me?’
Often when we face certain life challenges, we can feel like this has been done to us. We can then look externally to find someone/something to blame. Dr Edith Edgar has a famous saying ‘suffering in life is inevitable, but victimhood is a choice’
Take a moment to think of a time in your life when you felt something unfair had happened to you. In hindsight, what did you learn from that experience about yourself?
Now the next time you hear that ‘victim’ voice creep in, acknowledge it and then try rephrasing it by thinking ‘What if this is happening FOR me?’
- The power of ‘yet’
How often have you used the following sentence when explaining your situation
‘I haven’t met someone’
‘I haven’t found a job’
As it stands, these sentences are pretty final and fixed in their description. However, add on a little word like ‘yet’ and see how much it changes.
‘I haven’t met someone YET’
‘I haven’t found a job YET’
Instantly the vibe or energy of the statement changes. These sentences now portray hope and possibility all by adding a 3 letter word.
By becoming aware of the words you use, you can shine a light on your thoughts and your behaviours. With just some subtle tweaks to your words, you can totally change how you experience your life.
Imagine how much better you could feel by simply changing one word!