Today's blog is inspired by something I heard on BBC Radio 2 yesterday. It was just a brief chat between breakfast show host Chris Evans and the sports reporter, his friend, Vassos Alexander. They talked about the power that the words we choose to say have over our lives and I could not agree more with this... so I will pick up that cue and expand upon it.
When you continually use language like 'I have to...' and 'I need to...' and 'I can't...' and 'I must...' you live your life in a state of underlying stress and disempowerment.
You're speaking to yourself and others as if you have no choice in the matter; you are doing whatever it is because you must, not because you want to, or because you choose to, or you enjoy it.
Perhaps you think word choice like this is not a big deal but I promise you that all the small thoughts you have and decisions you make in every moment of every day are the things that are shaping your life in the large ways.
For example, when you say 'I have to go to the gym...' or 'I've just got to go to the gym...' it implies a sense of burden and a reluctance. You're doing something you'd rather not.
Change this to 'I plan to go to the gym...' or 'I choose to go to the gym...' or 'I'm looking forward to getting to the gym...' or 'I'm making time to go to the gym...' or 'I'd prefer to go to the gym...' then the stress and obligation is taken out of the words.
You are empowered; you are choosing something you desire. You are mistress or master of your own destiny.
This is not just a case of semantics. Your body-mind is a 24-hour hormone factory, constantly pumping out hormones in response to your state of mind and your thoughts - even your subconscious ones. So when the language you use creates these small stressors, your body responds by secreting hormones like cortisol, adrenaline and noradrenaline, which in turn keeps the body in a low grade 'fight or flight' response.
What does this do? Lots of things but amongst them are cravings for sugars and stimulants, extra fat storage around the belly, digestive issues, lowered immunity, increased anxiety, and more.
So my advice to you is to find new language for the things you do feel obliged to do, such as go to the dentist... 'I choose to go to the dentist, I appreciate having access to a dentist, and I am grateful for the help in keeping my teeth healthy'.
If you really don't want to do something, like go to the gym, don't. Go to a movie or read a novel in the park, choose something that feels good! This is the power of the beautiful word 'no'. It's something I've been working on in my own life recently. It can be a very liberating word.
For the next few days, just start observing the language you use to yourself and others and when you notice a negative statement like 'I must', 'I need to', 'I have to', 'I can't', first, notice the effect in your body. Is there a sinking feeling? Do you sigh and do your shoulders slump a little? Then change that phrase to an empowering one and again notice the subtle shift in your energy, your mood, your posture, and sensations in your body.
I hope you enjoy this exercise! I'd love to hear your thoughts and experiences, let me know in the comments below.
Lots of love, Zoë xx
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Blog image by Lauren Peng on Unsplash