Our language shapes our world.
Our language colors how we think, what we do, and how we interact with others.
The words we use can limit us or keep us on the right track.
The words that others use can keep us moving towards our goals, or stop us dead in our tracks.
Thinkers such as Steven Pinker, Angela Duckworth, Carol Dweck, and Marshall Goldsmith talk about the power of language. Whether it is using a growth mindset, using language to encourage perseverance, asking yourself daily questions, or understanding that the type of word you use influences your perception, one thing is clear. WHAT you say, and HOW you say it have enormous impacts on people.
“Never is a promise, and you can’t afford to lie.”
Words like never and always should not be part of your vocabulary.
“Never” As in not at all; Has not happened in the past or in the future.
Never is such a common word it has lost it’s meaning. We use it for emphasis, we use it to piss people off, we use it to inspire, we use it without even thinking about it.
“Always” As in every time; Without failing; It WILL happen.
While it is an opposite to “never,” the word “always” is used in the same way. We use it when we want to make a grand statement, we use it when we fight with others, we use it when we don’t really mean it.
From a logical standpoint, is there anything that always happens or never happens? There are exceptions and intricacies and details to everything. Even the idea that death and taxes are our only certainties. There are people (although few) that don’t pay taxes. The only thing that happens always is death. We never live forever.
The concepts of “never” and “always” are ABSOLUTES.
Be careful about absolute thinking, it can steer your away from the gray areas of life.
“A man is but a product of his thoughts. What he thinks he becomes.”
Not to be morbid, but if death is our only true certainty, shouldn’t we be more careful with our words?
Our words come from our thoughts, and our thoughts make us who we are- our words should be the truest reflection of what we think.
What can we do?
A certain degree of mindfulness is needed to align our thoughts with our words. It is too easy to say we “think” we don’t mean. The works of Charlie Ambler are essential in trying to help with establishing mindfulness practice and “cleaning up” our thoughts.
Here’s some ideas that I think help too.
- Not to be trite, but think before your speak. Once again, it is too easy to talk “off the cuff” and not pick your words wisely.
- Take a inventory of times when you get upset or when you are overly excited. These times are ripe for the use of language that might not be completely aligned with your true intentions.
- Pay attention to when you use words that you “regret” later on (it doesn’t just have to be “never” and “always”). Think of what lead up to the situation. If you intend to change the way you think and use language, then this antecedent situation can be significant.
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