Shifting your vocabulary can change your reality.
One of the ways we become more emotionally intelligent is to expand our emotional literacy. The way we language events in our lives informs our brains about whether or not to kick in stress hormones or feel hopeful and encouraged about our choices and our lives.
Neurolinguistic research shows that saying things like “I have to” or “I should” actually communicates to your brain and your body that you don’t have much power. When you stop using phrases that send a message of disempowerment, you actually feel happier and more able to come up with solutions to problems.
Often times, we need to expand our vocabulary to express ourselves more accurately and to help ourselves shift into the experience we really want. When we start paying attention, it’s easy to hear disempowering phrases that have become a habitual way we describe even the smallest events. The phrase “I have to” when simply replaced with “I choose to” or “I intend to” can immediately redirect your brain to release biochemicals into your system that help you feel more confident and resourceful.
As Dr. Andrew Newberg explains in the book he co-wrote with Mark Waldman, Words Can Change Your Brain, “Our language-based thoughts shape our consciousness, and consciousness shapes the reality we perceive. So choose your words wisely because they become as real as the ground on which you stand.”
Simply put, if you describe events using language that places you in the role of the victim, you’ll feel demotivated and stressed out about your life. When you use vocabulary that demonstrates you are self-directed, you’ll feel more energized, clear and powerful.
“How can I get through this?” is what the victim says in the story. The hero says, “How can I solve this?”
Not only does this change in language help with our brains, but when we feel fully expressed we are better able to deeply listen to others as well. It’s important to be honest about how we’re feeling and courageous enough to own those experiences without needing to blame others. When we do that, we open up the possiblity for real converations that can actually take the entire situation to a new level of success.
Click here for a handout of feeling words to help you communicate more precisely and thoughtfully. The better we become at communicating, the better the quality of our conversations and our life experiences.