What we say and how we say it has an amazing power sub-consciously in our determination and perception of the events in our life. I have a friend who said something to me that made me think about just how influential our choice of words and phrases can be toward our perspective, “I have to go to the Gym. I have a really hard time motivating myself. I’ve been putting it off for two weeks, and I just can’t make any more excuses, I have to go.”
As I reflected on this statement and the message it projected, I said, “John, maybe you just need to change, I have to go to the Gym to I get to go to the Gym?”
John stared at me with disbelief and said, “You’re right!” I’m acting like it’s a dirty job that I have to do, not something I love.” There was no doubt in my mind as to why he had a hard time motivating himself.
Being just as human as the rest of you, I also sometimes find myself using words, metaphors or phrases that distort or exaggerate the meaning of something and it absolutely affects the way I view that task or event at that moment. At that moment I will stop and correct myself using a positive, empowering twist to my phrase and it always brings a smile to my face.
Let’s look at our work time for example. You can always tell when someone hates their job by the way they view time on the job. Do you have four more hours before you get to leave, or is your perspective “I only have four more hours left to finish this?” Do you have to do this or do you have the opportunity to do this?
Now, let’s focus on competition! Have you ever amplified the meaning of an event with a phrase like, “I got crushed, they killed us or they trashed us?” How about, “we were beaten?” Now, what do think these statements imply? What sort of images do they conjure up?
What if those were replaced with a de-amplified version, a more realistic description, like, “We didn’t play to our potential or we’ve got some things to work on.” These statements portray a different image and a different emotion, don’t they?
When we use empowering, solution-oriented statements, they help us see how we can improve our outcome. Negative amplification of events have an opposite effect, because they are problem focused, rather than solution oriented by nature, They have a tendency to make things seem much worse than they were and make it difficult to move to a solution. It’s a little hard to recover and shake it off when you’re CRUSHED, KILLED, TRASHED or BEATEN.
It’s also very hard to ask yourself, what did I learn from this, while licking your emotional wounds, when you’ve subjected yourself to these very colorful terms.
Not only do these types of exaggerated negative descriptions keep us from empowering ourselves and learning from these experiences, they also make the event seem much more than it probably was. This type of negative self talk also connects you in a disempowering way emotionally, making it an “Anchor” and Associating the event with heartbreak, failure and hardship. This can have a HUGE affect on your performance in the future.