Tuesday, September 6, 2016

The Power of Language: Part 2 Pressure Words

By Sheana Tobey, MA, LPC
As noted in Part 1 of this 3-part series, we’re exploring how language can affect our peace of mind. In this post, I’d like to delve into pressure words, or the words and phrases that keep us from being open and accepting of ourselves and others. Examples include have to, must, should, and good enough. I lovingly say that when we use these, we are shoulding all over ourselves. I can appreciate how these types of words are usually trying to motivate us. However, in my experience, we end up pushed into tight corners with few acceptable outcomes.
            For example, if I tell myself “I have to finish writing this blog post by tonight,” then I’ve created only one acceptable outcome. (Did you notice the rigid word only that popped up there too?) What happens if I don’t finish the blog post by tonight? Odds are the mental fighting begins, and I shame myself for not getting it done. But imagine, if I said to myself “I would like to finish this blog post by tonight.” There’s so much space now. If I don’t get it done, that’s OK because my language allows me to understand that it wasn’t the only possible outcome. I can get it done tomorrow!
            One way to create space within these phrases is to follow these steps:
  1. Notice you’ve used a pressure word or phrase.
  2. Consider why you might actually want to complete the task or engage in the activity.
  3. Change the pressure words into more giving words, such as I want, It would be nice if, I would like to.
Now, you might be thinking, what if I have a task that I don’t want to do, such as laundry. First of all, I am with you. I know very few people who enjoy doing laundry. However, how happy will you be when you have clean underwear tomorrow? So “I have to do laundry” becomes “I would like to do laundry today so I’ll have clean underwear tomorrow.” Now you have created motivation. And if you decide you really don’t want to do your laundry, then you can go commando, and all will be well.
            Now, let’s consider that you have a work task with a firm deadline. It must get done. The word must automatically adds pressure to the situation. If you are anything like me, odds are this type of pressure causes you to play one too many games of Solitaire to procrastinate. Consider instead all of the reasons you want to complete the assignment. Perhaps you will get accolades from your boss, or you might feel good once you’ve completed the task. The idea is to add joy back into your to-do list and extract the pressure from it.
            This week, I encourage each of you to try step 1 with pressure words. Once you’ve mastered this step, you can move on to the others. And, as always, leave any judgement out of the work!
            Look for the Part 3—Negating Words—coming soon!

Sheana is a Licensed Professional Counselor at The Awakening Center working with individuals and groups. She creates an empathic, accepting environment in which she walks with her clients on a path toward peace and happiness. For inquiries or to set up an appointment, please contact her at (773)929-6262 Ext. 16 or TobeySheana@gmail.com.


1 comment:

  1. LOL - "Go commando" - thanks for adding a chuckle to my day!