How to Use Language to Your Advantage

| October 8, 2012 | 2 Comments

Language Quote

How much attention do you pay to the words you speak on a day-to-day basis?

Not just verbally, but also silently inside your own head?

Language is really very powerful and can directly impact our moods as-well as the moods of those around us. In-fact when you speak, you are often communicating your internal thoughts without realising it. Plus when you start to vocalize your inner thoughts, they start to become more real – which can be a bad thing if your thoughts are negative in nature.

When you start to listen and really pay attention to how you speak (both internally & externally) you might be surprised.

In my experience from working with people in a coaching capacity, and studying quantum linguistics, there are a few common phrases that really are not that helpful. Conversely there are some really useful phrases that can literally turn your day around.

I don’t know about you, but I’d rather use language to my advantage.

Here are 7 useful phrases to adopt and 7 not-so-useful phrases to ditch, so you can make your language work for you instead of against you.

Simple Life Strategy: How to Use Language to Your Advantage

7 Things to Avoid Saying:

1. “I should…”
The word ‘should’ is a dangerous word. It screams negativity and is not conducive to positive outcomes in life. It’s actually a form of criticism and is best left out of your everyday language

2. “I can’t…”
Someone very wise once said to me ‘there’s no such word as ‘can’t’. I like to take this approach with my life. ‘Can’t’ is such a debilitating word that puts up a barrier between you and your goals – it’s like you’ve almost failed before you’ve begun. At least give yourself a chance by ditching the word ‘can’t’.

3. “I wish I wasn’t / didn’t have to…”
This is essentially ‘moaning.. No one likes to listen to someone moaning. Plus it’s pointless. If you don’t like something, then take action and try and change your situation. Otherwise, may as well get on with life with a smile on your face!

4. “I’ll try”
When we say I’ll try what we’re really saying is ‘I’m not prepared to commit to this’. Have you ever ‘tried’ to pick up a pen? Try it now. Try and pick up a pen. Did you do it? No. Because it’s not possible to ‘try’ and do something. As Yoda from Star Wars once said: “Do or do not. There is no try.”

5. Negative greetings such as “Not too bad” or “could be worse.”
I used to say this all the time when someone asked me how I was (I think it’s an English thing). But it’s so negative! Why not turn it around and say something positive. Or at least be honest. (there’s nothing worse than saying you’re ‘great’ all the time if that’s not really the case)

6. “I need…”
How often to you declare that you ‘need’ something and how often do you really need it? The word need creates dependency where it’s often not required. Next time you hear yourself say this, have a re-think to determine if you genuinely need what you’re talking about. If you don’t, then let go and minimize any negativity.

7. “Never.”
The word ‘never’ creates immediate boundaries on your life. And when we say ‘never’, it’s very rarely an accurate reflection of the choices that are available to us. It closes our mind to solutions and limits us. Try to never say never again!

7 Things to Start Saying

1. “YES!”
Entrepreneur Richard Branson believes that making a conscious decision to ‘say yes’ to more things, is one of his secrets for success. Next time your natural instinct is to say no, try saying yes instead. Life will become much more interesting!

2. “I Will.”
This is a great replacement for ‘I’ll try’. Consider for a moment how much more powerful the words “I will” are, compared to “I’ll try”. You’re immediately committing to something and your goals suddenly feel ‘possible’. Don’t worry too much about whether you actually reach the goals or not – this is about you setting yourself up for success, not failure.

3. “I’m lucky / grateful…”
Instead of focusing on what we don’t have, it’s been proven that gratitude can relieve symptoms of depression and unhappiness. Before I go to sleep, I like to remind myself of 3 things each day that I’m grateful for, or lucky to have in my life. This is a sneaky way to think positive without ‘trying’ too hard. It’s also a great way to get off to sleep because it stops any negative thoughts or worries from keeping you awake.

4. “I’m well.”
Instead of saying ‘Not Bad’ or ‘could be worse’ when someone asks you how you are, why not try a simple “I’m well thankyou” or if you’re not having a great day be honest but with a positive spin – “‘I’m not having the best day but I’m sure tomorrow will be better.”

5. “What if?”
This is a great alternative to words like ‘never’ or ‘impossible’. Instead of limiting us, the phrase ‘What if?’ creates possibility. It encourages solution oriented thinking, which helps us to problem solve. Next time you feel like a situation is hopeless, try saying to yourself ‘what if’ and see what solutions pop up.

6. “At least it’s not as bad as…”
Next time you find yourself in a challenging situation try ‘reframing’ it by comparing it to something worse. This is a great way to shrink your problems. When we put things into context we can gain perspective and suddenly our problems don’t feel as bad. You can read about my personal ‘reframe’ experience when I visited the Taj Mahal earlier this year.

7. Positive instructions such as “Remember to…”
If I said to you “Don’t think about a pink elephant” right now what did you just think of?  A pink elephant right? So we’re actually thinking about the very thing we want to avoid. This can be really dangerous when we use instructions such as ‘Don’t forget to take the garbage out’ because all our brain hears is ‘forget the garbage!’ However, if we flip our language so it’s positive, we get much better results. So if you want to remember something then tell yourself just that – “Remember to take the garbage out today” instead of what you ‘don’t want to do’!

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Category: mind training, problem solving, simple life strategies

2 comments on “How to Use Language to Your Advantage

    • Hi Kath,

      Thanks for the comment.

      It’s great that you use ‘what if’ with children! What better way to help children learn to be optimistic instead of pessimistic.

      Have a great day :)

      Zoe B

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