It’s all in the words – the power of language

Words are amazingly powerful. I recently read an argument for using “I don’t.. eat chocolate” instead of “I can’t … eat chocolate” and it’s not difficult to see the difference between the two.  One implies a choice which is much more likely to empower and build confidence in the person. (Thank you Gary Bertwistle.)

And then we get the well worn phrase, “I should… get fit/lose weight..” etc. But do we want to? Perhaps saying, “I want to … get fit/lose weight….” will make us feel more positive about taking action. Again, our language suggests a choice exists. A declaration has been made, we “own” the decision. “Should” comes from outside – someone else’s values. The word can be used sparingly.

What about “advice” as opposed to “information”? When we are advised by someone, the suggestion is that they have more knowledge, wisdom or intelligence than we do!  No matter how much of an expert the person I am consulting is, I would like to be given “information”. I then have a choice.

Another example of how the meaning can be changed by a simple substitution of one word.  Instead of thinking, “I worry..  ” about a situation, change it to, “I wonder.. .what the outcome will be”. Although we are still pondering perhaps an uncertain situation, we remove ourselves from emotional attachment to the outcome and immediately feel more relaxed about it.  

It is amazing what a difference our language can make to our attitude towards anything really.