What label do you want people to remember you by?
Beware of labels that can limit your experience. My son has been diagnosed with Irlen Syndrome. It is a label I have spent time talking to him that it isn’t a disability, it is just what they call he has. You see he can’t read black writing on white paper. If he wears glasses with coloured lenses where the white paper now is a different colour then he can read perfectly.
So you see what I mean, it isn’t a disability. It is just his eyes don’t like white paper. The trouble is this took a while to figure out and he was frustrated that he couldn’t read like the other kids. Once we got the coloured lenses, he could read just as well as all the other kids.
I was at the Irlen Centre last week when the lady who runs the centre was telling me about a young boy she treated that within twelve months of having his coloured lenses won academic awards. The boy told her “I thought I was dumb, but I’m not. I’m really clever.”
You can imagine how that one change in words has radically transformed his perception of himself and how much of his ability he now taps. What are the words you want to be known by? What characteristic word or phrase do you want others to identify you with?
There is a story of two teachers who were new to a school and participated in an experiment. Teacher A was told her students were gifted; however, they were actually students who struggled with school. Teacher B was told her students were struggling; however, they were actually gifted. Measurements were taken at the start of the year and mid way through to year to measure the students’ progress. Naturally, this story has a lot of detail and many elements to it, but the core message is the outcomes of the students at the end of the day.
The students in Teacher A’s class excelled. The results they got were amazing. The students in Teacher B’s class didn’t progress much at all for the period of the experiment. What does this mean? Well one of the elements that was noted was how if the students have a teacher that believes in their abilities is constantly telling them that they are clever they will understand. If the words she is using are constantly encouraging then perhaps, just perhaps, their results will improve better than ever before.
If the students are not given reassurance in their abilities, encourage to continue to work it out, that they are clever then perhaps, just perhaps, they won’t do as well.
The words that are spoken to us, the labels that are given to us can and may have a profound impact on our outcomes.
We’ve got to be very careful of accepting other people’s labels because once we put a label on something, we create a corresponding emotion. Nowhere is this truer than with diseases.
In the field of psychoneuroimmunology, they are reinforcing the concept that the words we use produce powerful biochemical effects.
In an interview Tony Robbins conducted with Norman Cousins, he told him of the work he’d done in the last 12 years with over 2,000 patients. Time and again, he noticed that the moment a patient was diagnosed, i.e. had a label to attach to his symptoms, he became worse. Labels like “cancer”, “multiple sclerosis,” and “heart disease” tended to produce panic in the patients, leading to helplessness and depression that actually impaired the effectiveness of the body’s immune system.
Conversely, studies proved that if patients could be freed of the depression produced by certain labels, a corresponding boost was automatically produced in their immune systems.
I had this experience personally. My husband, 11 years ago, was diagnosed with skin cancer. My husband and I talked about it and were okay with the whole concept. Even the day he had his operation, rather than sit around, I went to the University and called by the hospital on my way home.
His mother on the other hand saw it as a death sentence. She was upset, cried, nervous, praying, horrified at our reaction of the whole event. To her, it was all about the “C” word. Her son had cancer. That was it. Fatal as far as she was concerned.
It was the same event with two very different reactions and two very different labels.
“Words can produce illness; words can kill,” Cousins said. “Therefore, wise physicians are very careful about the way they communicate. Doctors are being taught how to enhance their emotional sensitivity to enable them to contribute more. If you’re in a profession where you work with people, it’s imperative that you understand the power of words to impact those around you.
Similarly, you can try lowering your emotional intensity in areas you may not have thought of. For instance, instead of using the phrase, “I’m starving to death,” what if instead you said, “I feel a little hungry?” By using that, you’ll discover as I have that you can literally lower the intensity of your appetite in a matter of moments. Sometimes people overeat simply out of a habitual pattern of whipping themselves into an emotional frenzy. Part of it starts with the language they use consistently.
Now is your chance. Take control. Notice the words you habitually use, and replace them with ones that empower you, raising or lowering the emotional intensity as appropriate. Start today. Set this in motion. Write down your words, make your commitment, follow through, and know what the power of this simple tool in and of itself will accomplish without using anything else.
“Be an inspiration to yourself and
you will be an inspiration to others.”