The way we represent things in our minds determines how we feel about life. A related distinction is that if you don’t have a way of representing something, you can’t experience it. While it may be true that you can picture something without having a word for it, or you can represent it through sound or sensation, there’s no denying that being able to articulate something gives it added dimension and substance, and thus a sense of reality. Words are a basic tool for representing things to ourselves and often if there’s no word, there’s no way to think about the experience. For example, Native American languages have no word for “lie” – that concept is simply not a part of their language. Nor is it a part of their thinking or behaviour. Without a word for it, the concept doesn’t seem to exist. In fact, the a tribe in the Philippines reportedly has no words for “dislike”, “hate” or “war” – imagine!
I recently heard of an ancient tribe that had no word for weekend. Records show they worked 7 days a week all their life. It kind of supports the theory that if there isn’t a word for it, then it doesn’t happen.
So what does this mean? Does it mean if you don’t use certain words then you don’t experience their emotion? I wonder, why not try it? Experiment for yourself. See what happens and please let me know. I am truly interested.
If words you’re using is creating states that disempower you, get rid of those words and replace them with those that empower you.
At this point you may be saying, “This is just semantics, isn’t it? What difference does it make to play with words?” The answer is that, if all you do is change the word, then the experience does not change. But if using the word causes you to break your own habitual emotional patterns, then everything changes.
Effectively using Vocabulary – vocabulary that transforms our emotional experience – breaks resourceful patterns, makes us smile, produces totally different feelings, changes our states, and allows us to ask more intelligent questions.
Tony talks about an example of words changing what happens. He tells the story of his wife and him are both passionate people who feel deeply about things. Early in their relationship they would often get into what we they called “pretty intense arguments.” After discovering the power of the labels we put on our experience to alter that experience, they agreed to refer to these “conversations” as “spirited debate”. That changed their whole perception of it.
We can also soften emotional intensity even further by using “modifiers”. For example, by saying “I’m just a bit peeved”, “I’m feeling a tad out of sorts”, or “ I’m beginning to get a smidge cranky”. We are taking the power out of the experience.
Once you understand the power of words, you become highly sensitized not only to those you use, but to those that people around you use as well.
I myself have tried this – I have replaced telling myself “I am so tired” with “I’ve worked hard today, it’s time to rest.” I have noticed that I don’t use the word “stressed” to describe when I have too much on. Seeing as I don’t use the word ‘stressed’ I don’t find that I am stressed.
Start to notice the words you use that aren’t empowering or supporting you, then think of how you can replace them and then think of how you can modify or disempower them even more. Notice not only in yourself also notice those around you. You will be amazed by the power of words.
“Be an inspiration to yourself and
you will be an inspiration to others.”