By Kimberly Bustamante
The connection between language, words, emotions and self can transform the reality within which you live. If your goal is to be resilient, confident, successful in achieving goals and able to overcome obstacles, start by taking responsibility for the words you use and the phrases that shape your thoughts.
What language makes up the beliefs in yourself? Become more aware of your vocabulary and intentionally focus on life-giving, instead of self-diminishing, words.
Here are some common, self-limiting words/phrases that you should consciously eliminate:
- Have (from a control standpoint not from an ownership standpoint): When you say, “I have to…” you are taking on the role of a victim. It is an expression of inconvenience. It implies you don’t have control. It negatively affects your perception of the situation and impacts your motivation. Instead, transform it to the phrase “I get to…” This reflects optimism towards completing tasks or overcoming challenges (even if you’re not genuinely excited about it). It instills confidence and sanguinity in your mind.
- Try (when speaking in first person and reflecting an action to be completed): When you say, “I’m trying to…” (lose weight, give up coffee, take on a new task, etc.) it presupposes failure. It implies intention but with permission to fail. It deflects accountability. Instead, speak with words of intent and commitment such as “I will...”
- It’s too hard/I’m scared: These two phrases damage your view of your abilities and your willingness to do whatever it takes to accomplish something. Use words that build confidence, not tear it down. You don’t need to replace these phrases, just banish them from your language permanently. When faced with challenges, believe that you will surmount them and that you will learn valuable lessons from whatever the journey brings.
- Can’t: When you say “I can’t…” you’ve created a restriction on your success. It undermines your sense of power. It fosters a stronger desire to do the thing you can’t do just because you’re not allowed to do it. Instead go with “don’t have to…” Don’t is a choice. It’s empowering. It reflects determination and willpower. Don’t believe me? Think about how you respond differently to “I can’t have that dessert” and “I don’t want that dessert.”
The words we think, speak and believe have the power to open or close doors of opportunity and success for us. Our language affects our self-perception and impacts our future behaviors and attitudes. Take time to play with your vocabulary. Search out new, life-giving words to describe actions and opportunities that lead to more constructive ideas and behaviors. Choose a handful of positive thoughts and phrases to focus on each week. The more you focus on those positive phrases and use positive words, the more habitual it will become, making you stronger, more resilient and more successful. Though it will take time, if you regularly practice this skill, your thought process will begin to naturally transform and flourish.
As Chief Operating Officer for Wiss & Company LLP, Kim Bustamante is responsible for planning and executing strategic goals to bring the firm from where we are now to where we desire to be. If you'd like to contact Kim, you can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org or 973.994.9400.