Change Your Thoughts & Words – Change Your life!
Dr. Michelle Kmiec, Founder OHH
Sometimes we form habits, both good and bad, without even realizing we have done so. There are even words that we use habitually, and this is the case more often than you might think.
I’ll bet there are certain phrases that you use all the time, and if I were to ask you what they are, you’d likely not be able to tell me – at least not all of them anyway. However, if I were to ask a close friend or family member what phrases they repeatedly hear from you, they’d likely be able to answer immediately.
If you were to ask me the same question, I’d swiftly answer that I say “That’s cool” all the time! In fact, this is something I have regularly said for decades now.
But there is another phrase that at some point I got into the habit of saying over and over again. I don’t know when it started, but I got into the awful habit of saying, “No, but…” or “No, but yeah…” And I would say this all the time, even if I agreed with you!
When this was brought to my attention I didn’t believe it. But when I really started to pay attention to my words – darn if I didn’t really say it! Eventually, I would laugh at how often this phrase automatically came from me.
So is this really a big deal?
Well, if the word or words were positive in nature then the answer would be no, of course, this would not be a big deal.
However, because my verbal habit contained a negative word such as “no”, the answer is yes, it is a big deal because it inserts a negative charge into the conversation. And that immediately can send the person you are talking to into a defensive stance.
When I corrected this habit, it was amazing how dramatically it improved my communication skills. Just by exchanging one word that possessed a negative charge with one having a more positive one or simply omitted that word all together brought about an abundance of favorable outcomes!
Verbal habits are not restricted to certain words or phrases, they can also relate to the manner in which you commonly speak. Your adopted language, per se. Have you ever heard people, or you perhaps, say things like:
- I’d never do that.
- I can’t believe you’d try that exercise – and at your age!
- They’d have to be crazy to try that.
- If you want to believe that, go right ahead.
- How could you even think that?
- What will people think?
- Don’t do that!
- I’m not thin enough, or I’m too fat, to go to the beach.
- I’d be ashamed if I was you.
- I wouldn’t dare try that.
- You should know better.
- What were you thinking when you did that?
Furthermore, if we are speaking a language with underlying negativity, we are likely thinking this way as well. Just as a placebo can result in a positive health outcome, the nocebo (in this case the belief that something negative will happen) can only have a negative outcome. So based on this, it is important to pay attention to not only your words but your thoughts as well.
I know that this is easier said than done so here is an activity that really helped me notice my words and thoughts that became habitual. And I believe it can help you as well! Just remember to be totally honest with yourself.
Your Thoughts & Words Matter Activity
Take note of how many times you use words or have thoughts possessing a negative tone, from the moment you open your eyes in the morning until you fall asleep at night. Here are some things to consider:
- How often did you think or say something negative about other people whether you knew them or not?
- How often did you use negative words when speaking to someone about another person OR yourself? (AKA Gossip)
- How many times did you have a negative thought about yourself?
- How often were your negative thoughts and/or words about your appearance?
- How often were your negative thoughts related to your self-esteem?
- Were you afraid to say something because you didn’t know how people would react?
- Did you stop yourself from doing something because of what you assumed others might think?
- How many times did you think something would go wrong based on past experience?
- Why would you assume the worst instead of the best outcome?
- Are you allowing for the growth of other people and yourself by assuming the worst outcome or preventing it?
- How do you feel immediately after a negative thought or a negative word you used toward someone else or yourself?
- Is the thought based on an assumption, perception or on fact?
- Did you sabotage a possible positive outcome by focusing solely on your negative thoughts?
I’ll bet you will be surprised at the outcome of this activity. I know I sure was! It was extremely enlightening!
Now that you are more aware of your habitual thoughts and the words that usually follow, you can begin the process of replacing them with something more positive. And here is the best part, it doesn’t matter if you believe the positive thought or word, all you have to do is consider the possibility of it. That alone is often enough to change your perception.
Once you open the door to possibilities, is when amazing things begin to happen!