“A man is what he thinks about all day long.”
- Ralph Waldo Emerson
Our words directly aid in creating our mindset. The words we use reflect the view we have of ourselves and the energy that those words carry has the potential to either drain us or empower us. The more that we use specific words the more it solidifies them as being descriptors of our identity.
People tend to think by using patterns called semantic framing. This means that we have mental models and frames of reference based on our particular knowledge and experiences. Our thoughts are based on the ways we conceptualize the world and are influenced by what happens around us. Just as thoughts are based in larger models, words are based off our thoughts and related to a larger mental framework.
The words we choose are directly related to the way we see the world, those around us, and ourselves.
It is through our words that we communicate and attempt to convey meaning and intent. Profound impacts can occur when we choose words carefully.
Don Miguel Ruiz says, “Always be impeccable with your word” In his book The Four Agreements. There is a lot of meaning packed in a seemingly simple phrase. The definition of impeccable means "faultless and in accordance with the highest standards of propriety." The more precise that we can be with our words, the clearer our message will be.
When we practice impeccability with our words we are honoring ourselves and others because language is what we use to connect to others and derive meaning.
Some practical examples should help to make more sense out of the abstract. A few of my personal training clients said that in the days before they were motivated to go to the gym that they would use the excuse that they "didn't have time." The fact is that each and every one of us has the same 24 hours and many people find time to exercise. But what is the real difference?
It comes down to prioritization. There is a huge difference between "I don't have time" versus "I didn't prioritize it."
Another example of differences in word choice involves using "can't" instead of "don't." Imagine that someone offers you something you do not want. If you say "I can't" then it signals that you're fighting against yourself somewhat whereas "I don't want that" puts yourself squarely in charge of that decision. It reinforces both your resolve and your commitment. Would you rather be told what to do or would you rather decide for yourself?
Words describe our current mindset and are directly related to our perspectives. Changing the words and the vocabulary you use can change your outlook and the way you view things. This includes both the set of words you use when talking with others and the words you tell yourself.