Words are funny little things and I wonder if there are more powerful things than them? The subject about words being able to start or stop wars has been covered. I will look at the tinier ways words can affect us. Or how the way we use certain words can change our very behaviour.
As there is no-one else in my flat at present, I will use myself to discuss an idea. Using the title of this post as an example, I say the words ‘I guess and maybe’ a lot more than I use the words ‘I think and I believe’. To me there is a very interesting and powerful difference between choosing to use the one set of words over the other.
Someone can ask me a question. My response will invariably be ‘I guess that…maybe they…’. Now what sort of response to give is that? If I sat on the fence any harder I would need surgery to remove the splinters. I see the choice of words as a negative device to frame thoughts in a certain way and then perpetuate the situation.
‘I guess that…maybe they…’ is translated in my head and my own vision of myself as ‘I don’t want to share my opinion on this in case it upsets someone and I am probably wrong anyway.’ So I then think of myself as someone whose thoughts don’t matter so when I am asked a question I say ‘I guess that…maybe they…’ I have already distanced myself as I don’t think my thoughts matter and the cycle continues.
The annoying thing is that I don’t notice I am saying this all the time. Or I didn’t notice until recently. Now I am examining it in terms of me having used a negative mental attitude to enforce beliefs on myself that I don’t necessarily believe anymore. This is where I find words and how we use them fascinating and how we can use words without being consciously aware of doing so to our own detriment.
The words ‘guess’ and ‘maybe’ have taken form as an image of edging away, shrinking down and being smaller. ‘I think’ and ‘I believe’ at least make me think of myself as the actual size I am. I don’t want to be too big-headed as I would get neck problems from the extra weight.
I can use the principle in other ways. ‘I will never get a job –> ‘I failed my last interview’ –> ‘See, I said I would never get a job’. Then the next interview is filled with expectations of failure which is unlikely to help get the job from the get go. There are many ways we can set ourselves up for a fall. There are also many ways we can keep that cycle going. What I am hoping for is a way to turn that cycle around and pedal like mad in the other direction.
So if I take my own idea that I use words to create negative situations and emotions, does it not follow that I can use words to create positive ones? (Hello brick wall. Yes, I do remember meeting you here at this exact same point a few times. How are the wife and kids? Jolly good. So, sorry, but would you mind if I just climbed over you for a bit?)
This is where I usually get stuck on this topic. Do I think that by just having a positive attitude all my dreams will come true? Of course not. That is unrealistic. Do I think a positive attitude and using words with positive connotations will help more than a negative ones? Yes. It is more logical.
Negative thoughts – I haven’t got an agent, I will never get an agent. I won’t bother looking for an agent = won’t get an agent through having given up trying.
Positive thoughts – I haven’t got an agent yet. I will keep going until I do. Or I can self-publish = could get an agent or book published. It is not a guarantee. It is a road of possibility as opposed to a cul-de-sac of defeat.
Even the phrasing of the word ‘could’ is important. This could happen (but it won’t) vs This could happen (and it might). When I start to think about it in this level of detail, that I might have to watch every word I say and check every inflection, I do get overwhelmed by the scale of it.
However, perhaps it is not different to writing? I can start with a sentence and see if that sentence is written the way I want it to. I can think of something I want to say and check if that is how I want it to come across. Then with practise it gets easier. I have resisted the temptation to end the last sentence with ‘right?’ as it is not in line with my new approach to making comments. Sounded wishy washy.
In conclusion, I am going to try and be more aware of what words I use and how I use them. As the song goes ‘You’ve got to accentuate the positives, eliminate the negative. Latch on to the affirmative But don’t mess with mister in between.’
Take care buddies,