Language provides the key for many of our current views and beliefs. Unfortunately, we rarely listen to ourselves with conscious attention and so we miss many clues that could help us understand our behavior. Here are three areas where it would benefit us to pay particular attention while we are speaking. Very often the blocks to our success are revealed this way.
1. Words that keep us where we are. (The "I've Fallen and Can't Get Up" syndrome).
Some words, like 'should', 'must' and 'try' keep us locked where we are. 'Shoulds' and 'musts' are typically other people's expectations and not our own desires. Because they're not ours, they never seem to get done, but we carry the guilt around all the time. 'Trying' is actually a pre-fabricated excuse for not succeeding. Think back over the times you've used the word try. How often have you not even made the attempt at something if you started by 'trying' to do it?
RECOMMENDATION: Program yourself to have an alarm go off every time you use the words 'should', 'must', 'try' and any others you would like to stop using. That gives you a chance, in the moment, to look at what you are saying and provides you the opportunity to rephrase it immediately. Doing it in the moment is immediately freeing. To program yourself, all you have to do is make a clear and definite intention to notice when you are using certain words.
2. Negating thoughts. (The "Way We Were" syndrome)
I was recently working with a client on a challenging situation. During the hour she had made some insightful discoveries and was able to see that the situation was actually an opportunity and the universe's way of reminding her it was time to move on. She became very calm and centered and we moved on to other topics. As we were winding down the call, she again brought up the situation and talked about how angry and hurt she was. I asked her to stop and get clear.
Was she feeling angry and hurt in that moment? Her answer was no. Then why did she say it? Because she was so used to talking about anger and hurt when she talked about the situation that the old tape automatically started playing. Eventually, the old tape would kill off the new tape she was trying to create and keep her feeling angry and hurt.
RECOMMENDATION: If there is a situation or person that evokes highly charged energy for you, choose to pay attention to all conversations about it. You can definitely talk about what you 'did' feel (honoring those legitimate feelings), but also bring in your current feelings about it and any understandings gained. This keeps you in the present and complete with the past, allowing you to build the future you desire.
3. The 'other' half of our history. (The "If I Don't Acknowledge It, It Never Happened" syndrome).
When we believe something strongly, we usually accept without question anything that supports that belief. The opposite is also true. When we believe something strongly, we tend to ignore incidents that would break down that belief. This is true even when the belief is ultimately something that undermines our ability to achieve our goals.
As an example, a client of mine has run into blocks in achieving her goals because of a very critical inner voice, one that was reinforced by her father. Recently, in talking about her writing, a recognized strength, she said in passing: "My father always told me I was a good writer. He was the only one who believed in me". I asked her to stop and listen to those words. It took her a few minutes to accept this picture of nurturing and integrate it with the view of the stern and critical father she usually holds. It was a small step, but an essential one. By acknowledging "all" of our history, both positive and negative, we make the journey to wholeness.
RECOMMENDATION: Are there people or events from long ago that can trigger your buttons today? If so, program yourself to have an alarm go off EVERY time you bring up that person or event. Pay attention to what you say. Does it conform to your belief around this situation? Is it true? If it's true but doesn't support your belief, can you allow yourself to accept it as true? Can you begin to broaden your picture of the person or event? With this new idea, can you begin to see that the piece that still hurts you was probably about them and not about you? Open yourself up to the possibilities and remember this is to free you, not them. As we free ourselves from the past, we are able to make better choices in the present. And the choices we make here and now are the cornerstone for our future.