We use language to express our thoughts and feelings but the language we use in turn affects our thoughts and feelings too. This is the power of language.
You can use a language that motivates you and gives you options or you may use one that limits you and discourages you. The choice is yours.
How will you know which language you are choosing? Let me show you.
When you talk about your current state of mind what do you choose to say? If you say I am angry, you are defining yourself with your emotions. You are an angry person that does angry things. You give power to anger and it can use its power! How could you formulate it differently? You could have said, “I feel angry!”. Now you are talking of an emotion. You are feeling it right now, you might feel something else later. You can define how this feeling is. You can ask yourself what you want to do with this feeling. You can ask what this feeling means for you. You can work with it. You have the power.
Do you find yourself saying “I can’t” often? How does this make you feel? When you say “I can’t”, you are making an assumption that there is no way you can do that, whatever you are talking about. You choose to believe in that assumption, you are making it very difficult for yourself to be able to do it. Actually, it is probably something you just yet don’t know how to do. When you use “yet don’t know how”, you are opening to the possibility of learning how. You have options. You are able.
A common example of a negative, discouraging language is the usage of words “should” and “must”. When you say to yourself you should do or you must do something, you are talking to yourself from a higher place, maybe with the voice of your mother or your father or with the voice of society. You are not the person that decides what you want to do and what you think is right for you but you are a child listening to the guidance of a parent. How motivated can you be to follow this suggestion? I bet at many times you will have the urge to break the rules and do even the opposite!
The more you use the negative, discouraging, powerless language, the more effect it has on you, it becomes a thinking pattern of yourself. The more you use the powerful, empowering language the more confident you become and the more open you are for new possibilities.
I want to invite you to witness yourself, and the language you use. Notice the times you use I can’t, I must, and the times when you identify yourself with emotion. When you notice, take a pause, and reformulate the sentence in an empowering way. Please report me how this changes your perception of yourself and your life.
We work with language in coaching as it is how we hear our clients express their challenges and desires. Sometimes we hear their standards, their values, and what matters to them, sometimes we hear their perceived limitations. We reflect, challenge, explore together to maximize their potential. If you’d like to learn to support people by coaching, have a look at our Professional Coaching Diploma programme.