Research has shown the language and word choices we use in our daily lives can positively or negatively impact our lives. Yet, for most of us we often don’t pay a lot of attention to the words we choose to use to express ourselves.
What happens is when we unconsciously go about our day using language that limits our autonomy and choices, we often cause ourselves to have unnecessary self-inflicted stress.
To turn this around, you need to make a conscious effort to start listening and notice what comes out of your mouth.
Often the unhelpful language takes the form of you referring to yourself negatively like ‘I’m an idiot’ to making innocent statements using words and self-sabotaging language that limits positive change. i.e. I should stop procrastinating.
When you catch yourself using this type of language. Stop. Forgive yourself.
Re-assess the words you have used. And then consciously choose to use language that is encouraging, empowering and positive.
Here are some ideas to use language to get you started in a positive direction.
1. Replace ‘Busy’ with ‘Full’
In an article for The Huffington Post, Scott Dannemiller articulates how busy is a sickness and why the majority of us often overreact and “voluntarily create unnecessary stress in our lives” because we live in a society that defines our worth by our doing instead of being.
What he decided to do is to eliminate the word “busy” from his vocabulary whenever people asks him how he is doing, and replaces it with “full”.
With this simple switch in word, he has empowered himself to create a new habit. Instead of letting busyness control him, he is taking back his control and is choosing what he enjoys and wants to put on his happiness plate.
2. Remove The Should, Must, Have Factor
I should spend more time with my family, I have to lose weight, I must pick up groceries tonight. Should, must and have are words that limit your choices and autonomy.
‘Shoulds’ can go on and on. Instead of focusing on the should, focus on thinking, is it something I want to do? Is it something that allows me to spend time with people that matter? Is it something that enhances my well-being? Your time and energy is valuable, so if it is something you have no desire in doing that brings little fulfillment in your life, it’s time to cut it out of your schedule.
If it turns out whatever you are ‘should’ing is something that will have a positive impact on your life, then change ‘should’ to ‘I get to’ or ‘I’m going to’, ‘I want to’, ‘I‘d really like to’, ‘I will’, ‘I can’. You get the gist. These terms implies positive action. It gives you a sense that YOU made the decision to do it and thus, converts the experience of what you’ll be doing into something productive.
Similarly, you can also apply the suggested phrases mentioned above to replace ‘I have to’ and ‘I must’.
3. Use words to shift your perception to possibility
Let’s get straight to an example. Instead of “I haven’t found my ideal partner.” Add ‘yet’. Or use the phrase, “‘I’m in process’ of finding my ideal partner.”
In doing so it can help soothe anxiety and the feeling of ‘lack’ or being ‘not enough’, as ‘yet’ and ‘I’m in the process’ suggests that at a future time it will happen. Thus, it creates a sense of hopefulness and a space of allowance that opens your mind to considering possibilities.
4. Change tenses
We often let our past stories dictate our future, with the ‘I can’t…’, ‘I don’t know how to..’ get in the way.
When you have an ‘a-ha’ and realize you can, it’s time to turn this around. Add the words ‘before now’ or ‘until now’ at the end of the disempowering statements we make.
This sets the tone that going forward you are ready. You can. You will. You have what you need to carry out whatever it is you want to do successfully.
i.e. “I can’t get my act together” to “I haven’t been able to get my act together until now.”
Over to you.
How have you used language to elicit more positive effect on your psyche and change your experience of life.
Theresa is an 80’s music lovin’, Old Fashioned drinkin’, freedom livin’ travel junkie sent to zap living a double life right outta you. Get your free insights on life lessons for a work in progress here. You can find her on Instagram @