Tuesday, September 20, 2016

The Power of Language: Part 3 Negating Words.

By Sheana Tobey, MA, LPC
            In Part 1 of this three-part series on language we explored rigid words. Part 2 delved into pressure words
            In this final installment, we’ll look into words and phrases that keep us from being open and accepting of ourselves and others. These are negating words or phrases, such as but. These types of words close off opposing forces that co-exist in our everyday lives. For example, yesterday I walked by a beautiful pair of shoes, and I thought, “I want those shoes, but I need to save money for rent.” (Notice the pressure word need that slipped in there? Could this mental fight have been avoided had I changed it to want? Just a thought) I walked away and didn’t even try them on. I continued thinking about those shoes and fighting with myself about them all day:  
“Those shoes were so pretty.”
“But you can’t afford them, Sheana.”
“But they were so perfectly edgy, and they would look great with that one dress…”
“Sheana, you always spend too much money on things you don’t need.  You’ve got to stop!” 
(Notice how the mental fight escalated and how I used the rigid word always with myself.) By throwing the word but into the middle of that initial phrase, I negated the part of me that wanted the shoes. By replacing but with a period or and, I could allow room for both parts of myself to have a say in whether or not I bought the shoes. So, had I stated “I want those shoes. And I need money for rent,” I would have opened the conversation up to choice. I still might choose to not buy them; however, I gave myself the space to fully experience wanting them. This allows me to feel more confident in, and to better understand, my choice. 
            So, consider following these steps to change this language pattern.
  1. Notice that you have used a negating word.
  2. Change it to a period or and.
  3. Allow space for both opposing items to exist at once. 

            Working to change these categories of words takes time and patience. These are words we use in our everyday language. So, go easy as you begin to catch yourself (nonjudgmentally) in the act of using them. Then, when you feel ready, move onto Steps 2 and 3.
           I hope these tools allow you to live your days more openly, accepting, and peacefully.

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. Great post! It's not just the language we use with others that matters - how we talk to ourselves can make or break our day.