In my DVD talk The Emotional Aspects of Healing, there is a section where I discuss the importance of being aware of the way we speak – the words we say, our habitual expressions, and the meaning behind our words.
Our words can be a reflection of our beliefs, of how we view life, and we may not always be conscious of it. A friend of mine has a standard answer to the question “How are you?” and that is “I’m battling along”. What does that say about how he views his life? What is his experience on a daily basis? Do you think his life looks like a battle every day? It certainly can do.
The question to ponder is, are we just describing what we are experiencing, or are we creating our experience out of our beliefs? If we believe life is a battle, then does that belief colour our experiences, and we see a battle everywhere we look – even though someone else may not describe those very same experiences that way at all? It can be an interesting exercise to explore the way we describe our life and how we feel when we use certain words and descriptions.
I think it was Anthony Robbins who initially taught me quite a lot about languaging and a few things really stuck. One was, when having an argument or when you are quite angry and upset about something, instead of labelling it as something really big and bad; say something like, “I am a little bit peeved about this issue” and by naming it this way, it tones down the emotional impact of the situation and may help you find a new perspective that little bit faster. I definitely use this one, and it always makes me smile as I say it.
Another way we can be more aware of our languaging, is in the use of the word “you” as opposed to “I”. As we grow and learn about ourselves, a natural sense of responsibility and ownership starts to develop in our languaging and our conversations. We start to use expressions such as I see, I hear, I feel – we own our experience and can define and describe those experiences authentically. The alternative to this is the use of the word “you” and it can be very common.
A friend in conversation recently said something along the lines of “You know when you have a restless night, and you just can’t get going of a morning, so you get up and have a really strong coffee and a chocolate bar before you even start getting breakfast”. And I had to be a really annoying friend and say “Actually that’s not my experience, that yours – try saying that again, but use the word “I” instead of “you” and see how that sounds and feels to you.” Well, I actually didn’t say that, but I wanted to!
So it would sound like “I had a really restless night, and I found it hard to get going this morning, so I got up and I had a really strong coffee and a chocolate bar before I even started getting breakfast”. It is a lot different isn’t it? The first one is a classic case of not owning your own experience, of projecting it onto another person to feel like you have something in common with them, that their experience is the same as yours, so it is an indirect validation helping you to feel OK about it. But this can be a by-passing of your own experience, and in my observation, when someone does this habitually as the dominant way they express themselves, they are often very disconnected from a sense of their own feeling world and their own ability to take responsibility for those feelings. All their experiences are outside of themselves, or someone else’s fault, or things just “happen” to them randomly – there is often no awareness of the connection between their words, feelings, beliefs and their experiences of day to day life.
This is where working on ourselves and developing self-awareness is so important. We start to put together our words, feelings and experiences and realise that we have an immense power to affect our state from the words we choose to use, and the identification of how we feel. It can be a very powerful, awakened state to be in, and I’ve found it brings a magical quality to my life.
So next time you are in conversation with someone, just observe both their languaging and your own and see what you find. That also goes for your inner dialogue as well – but that’s a post for another day!