Words matter. Our choice of words matters.
Words are labels that enable us to categorize reality. Reality is inherently neutral, reality just is. What we think or say is not reality anymore. It is a reflection of our perception of reality.
We all see reality through the lens of our experiences, biases, and mindsets.
It has always fascinated me how strongly and differently can some people react to the weather. The Weather is inherently neutral, it just is. Yet, some people are never happy about it. It is either too hot, too cold, too rainy, too dry and so forth. Isn’t it better to enjoy the day, whatever the weather is right now? We can't change the weather, after all.
Once we become aware of our biases, we can consciously decide to reframe and reinterpret our perception of reality. The words we use have tremendous power. Not only those we say but also those we think.
When we realize the power of our language, we become mindful of what we say and think. This will allow us to stay optimistic and motivated. We will communicate easily and our relationships will be stronger.
Does it mean that we are denying reality? Absolutely not!
Does it mean that we reject negative, unuseful, repetitive thought patterns? Absolutely yes!
It is about choosing a growth mindset, and improving our language is a great start.
See below a list of frequent expressions and how we can reframe them.
Failure - Learning
Afraid - Curious
I hate - I prefer
I'm afraid that - I trust that
Sickness - Cleansing
Nervous - Excited
Anxious - Eager, Keen
Problem - Challenge
Issue - Opportunity
Criticism - Advice
Stressed - Energized
Boring - Stable
Weird - Unique
Phrases that seem positive but imply negativity:
No problem - Definitely
No worries - My pleasure
Can’t complain - Doing great, thank you
Phrases focused on complaints rather than the solution:
I’m exhausted - I need to rest
I forgot - I’ll make sure to set a reminder
Words with negative connotations. Replace the phrase by a solution-oriented sentence:
Unfortunately, it is impossible to send you the report now because of the problems we have with our analytics team. -> Can we send the report by Friday so that we have time to follow up with the analytics team?
I miss you - I'm looking forward to seeing you
I missed you - It’s so great to see you!
Negative orders replaced by suggestion with a clear reasoning
Don’t tell me excuses - I like it when you are responsible
No... - I suggest you rather..., because…
Words indicating powerlessness:
I can’t do this - How can I do this? Or: I won’t do this
I have to do groceries -> I want to do groceries
I should go to the doctor -> I’d like to go to the doctor
I will help you - > I will assist you
I know what you mean, but it has to be like that… -> I know what you mean and I know it has to be like that…
Words indicating a fixed mindset:
I’m not good at this - I am not there yet. What can I do to get there?
I will never be that smart. - I will learn how to do this.
My friend can do it, not me. - I will learn from my friend.
Now, if you have been speaking a certain way your whole life (and many of us have been overusing the negative language) the change will not occur in a few days. If you notice yourself speaking negatively, take it as a learning and reminder for next time. All starts with becoming mindful of our language and then making choices to improve it.
Are you mindful of your language and choice of words? Do you overuse some of the above negative phrases? Do you have any other suggestions for replacing negative words by positive ones? Share them with us!