“Words are loaded pistols.” ~ Jean-Paul Sartre
As children, many of us remember the taunt, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” A while back, I heard a variation on this schoolyard chant, “Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will scar my soul.” And how easily they can.
Words matter. To the mind they are powerful frames for your feelings. They tell the mind what has happened and could happen, which the mind uses as requests for you to have those experiences. Your mind pays careful attention to these requests as words, providing images and responses to match them. No words are ignored and those often repeated make the matches automatic.
The most damaging words are limiting words and they often lead to the following:
Affirm a limiting belief you hold about yourself and what you can do and not do. Words connected to limiting beliefs include: stupid, tired, and worthless.
- Raise anxiety by focusing on what is not wanted. Words that raise anxiety include: hopeless, surviving, and afraid.
- Establish an expectation for mistakes and errors. Word and phrases that establish an expectation for mistakes include: what if, I can’t, problems, and failure.
How often do you use these limiting words to describe your current, past, or future experiences? Using limiting words is never – repeat, never – helpful and supportive of getting what you desire, want, or dream about. Limiting words always limit your possibilities and potential and ultimately your success.
Change the limiting words in your thoughts and language, and new mental frames will lead to learning and positive experiences.
The next step is to formulate empowering words to replace limiting words. How might you go about doing this? What will it change for you?