Change Your Language, Change Your Life

Think about this German word – backpfeifengesicht. It doesn’t exist in English, but it means “a face badly in need of a fist.” How about this word, mamihlapinatapai, from the Yaghan language of Tierra del Fuego. It also isn’t an American concept. This one describes that special look shared between two people, when both are wishing that the other would do something that they both want, but neither want to do. What do these ideas tell you about a culture?

The word “mine” doesn’t exist in many languages. Imagine what it would be like living in a world where you and your possessions are viewed as belonging to the collective. Do you think you could be lonely there? Uncared for? In Lakota, there is no word for revenge. Can you imagine living in a culture where there is no need for revenge?

wordsThe Inuit have many words for the different types of snow. The Lakota have many words for clouds. Both of these cultures can tell much about the coming weather from looking at the environment. The attunement with nature has allowed them to survive, much like the wildlife that escaped the devastation caused by the 2004 tsunami. Their knowledge is far more accurate than modern weather forecasts.

Language is revealing. It shows what is inside of you. It is a doorway into your world. When the British conquered the British Isles, they made it illegal to speak Gaelic. When the Europeans conquered the indigenous people of North America, they sought to eradicate their language as well. Why? Because language is powerful. If you kill a language, you kill the energy, customs, and ideology and identity of a people. When you force them to speak your own, you indoctrinate them to your way of life.

If you understand this, you know that changing the way you view and use language is a tool to change your life. Here are some suggestions for making that happen in a way that serves you.

Make Negatives Positives

Think about the words stingy and generous. Words have energy. Some are high energy words that make you feel good, expand your energy, and move things in a desirable direction. Some are low energy words that do just the opposite. If you choose high energy words, you can talk about things that are not necessarily pleasant without creating negative energy within yourself or out in the world. For example, “He’s stingy” is not the same as “He’s not very generous.” “He’s stingy” has a mean feel about it, doesn’t it? “He’s not very generous” feels more like he could be generous if only he wanted to be. It’s a lot less judgmental and more hopeful.

Here’s how to use this. Simply turn the negative energy word into a positive energy word that conveys the same meaning. Bad becomes not great. Why? Because great is the desired outcome. Dirty becomes not clean. Ugly becomes not beautiful.

Speak Lovingly

Dr. Wayne Dyer says that when you squeeze an orange, orange juice comes out because that is what is inside. When you are squeezed and curse words come out, that is because that is a reflection of what is inside. If you curse as a matter of course, your juices are leaking out all over the place without the benefit of pressure. So, you are essentially poisoning yourself and everyone around you.

The good thing about energy is that it’s a two way street. It’s true that the words you speak are a reflection of what’s inside. It’s also true that you can change what’s inside by changing your speech. Choose to express in different ways. You don’t need blue language to be precise.

Note: There are people who get offended by cursing. There are those who fiercely defend their right to use colorful language. Just to be clear, there are few things about other people’s behavior that I am judgmental about. It’s not for my sensibilities that I suggest that you stop cursing. It’s for your well-being.

languageUse Nonjudgmental Language

Your judgments are basically verbal pronouncements of your prejudices. It’s not easy to love what you find not pleasing in others. When you speak judgmentally, you essentially box yourself into a corner so tiny that it’s not easy to live there without violating some rule. This results in low self-esteem, whether consciously or unconsciously because you can’t go against your values and be happy. When you free yourself of judgments, you find fewer things offensive and can accept people, things, and yourself, as they are. In other words, you find peace.


Remove Self-Limiting Talk From Your Vocabulary

Self-limiting talk are things like I can’t and I’m worthless. It’s speech that demonstrates a fixed mindset. It reflects that you don’t yet understand that everything can be learned if given the proper instruction, time, and practice. Nobody is perfect. Nobody is born proficient at anything. Those who are good at something develop that skill through practice. Author Malcolm Gladwell says that it takes 10,000 hours (that’s about eight hours a day for ten years) to master anything. Are you willing to invest a couple of hours to become just okay at something? Or would you prefer to condemn yourself to mediocrity through your mindset and language? I urge you to add “until now” to the end of any self-limiting speech so that it becomes I can’t dance… until now or I am worthless… until now. It leaves open the possibility for something to change. All you need is an opportunity and you can create anything!

Don’t Speak Until You are Mentally Clear

Have you ever been around someone who talks incessantly and says nothing? People do this out of nervousness. They do it as an attempt to connect. It could be about worrying aloud. They do it for attention or to make themselves appear more important. Sometimes it is a way of calming themselves down. They do it to confuse others. Sometimes people do it because they are afraid they won’t be heard. They do it for all sorts of reasons; however, it’s not a very effective strategy for meeting any of those needs.

Be quiet. Get centered in yourself. Most of what you are saying doesn’t need to be shared. This is true even if you are a natural extrovert. Be still. Listen to your inner voice. It often can’t be heard over the words coming out of your mouth. Don’t take my word for it. Try this. You will find that you end up speaking more clearly, more easily, and less often.

It takes a lot of energy to talk. Keep that energy for yourself and you will feel less anxious, confused, and needy.

It takes a lot of energy to listen. That’s why many people don’t listen and shut down instead when there is too much talking. Listening is a gift. It’s a pathway to connection. Don’t ask this of someone unless you are offering them something worthwhile to hear.

Moderate Your Volume

What energy are you sending when you are loud? What about when you yell? It’s an attempt to get attention and dominate, isn’t it? Is that a loving gesture? Do you want to control people or do you want to communicate? Relating requires respect, self-control, and openness to each other’s ideas. If you are loud with others, you will either have people in your life who are either afraid of you, disrespect you, are tempted to talk over you, or leave you. That’s rarely the desired outcome.

To help yourself choose something else, when you catch yourself doing this, picture yourself as a roaring animal. The only time you need to roar is if you are in danger or when you are making  joyful, jubilant expressions of glee that are a blessing to share.

Tell the Truth

At the center of all of us is the desire to love, be loved, and be connected. When you lie, you create separation. This makes loneliness, isolation, depression, anxiety, and hurtful behavior possible. We don’t do these things when we are connected.

Lying is going against yourself. It is not human nature to lie. If it were, we wouldn’t feel guilty or out of sorts when either we do it or it is done to us. Your body always knows the truth of every action. It responds. When you are in harmony, the body is healthy. When you are not in harmony, it slowly becomes dis-eased. Stay healthy. Keep your vibration high by telling the truth. If you do it often enough, you will find that people are stronger than you give them credit for. They can handle it and so can you.

Choose Your Words Carefully

“As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he.” ~Proverbs.

There are many words for the same thing. Your choice of words is a reflection of your energy. Think about this for a second. When I was a child, the only words I heard used to describe coitus was love making. As I got older, little kids called it “doing it.” Then when I was in high school, they called it having sex. When I was in college, most people used the f-word. Today it’s become hooking up.

Can you see the detachment, lack of love, and certainly a lack of anything sacred in the language of those around me as I got older? You can understand kids using “doing it,” but the rest of the terms are things people with no caring or connection do. Is it any wonder that sex has become so casual, meaningless, disconnected, and all about physical pleasure? There is nothing more special about it than driving to the corner store to get a pack of cigarettes. This detachment creates the possibility for objectification, abuse, cheating, rape, and other behaviors that we don’t do to people we are connected to.

Think about the words you use to say things. They have meaning. Say what you mean. Mean what you say. If you feel that your dream isn’t yet a reality, that’s all the more reason to change your language. Create it in your heart and mind through your words and it will manifest in the physical world.

Language is powerful. It’s contagious. It can inspire an age. When I say the word groovy, it takes you to the 70s, doesn’t it?  Gnarly and bogus brings to mind the 80s. These are nonsensical words that someone came up with and spread to the whole culture. The more you use a word, the more it spreads into the world around you. The less often you use a word, the less energy it has to impact the world.

Take the word kill. How many synonyms exist for kill? Let’s see: murder, slay, assassinate, rub out, hit, massacre, erase, annihilate, execute, slaughter, destroy, butcher, behead, exterminate, and it goes on and on. If we need so many words to describe the taking of a life, there must be an abundance of this happening in many nuanced ways. Now let’s look at love. Is there any other word that capture the essence of love? I’d say no. Not by a long shot.

There is something wrong with our world. If you feel the same, help me change it by changing your language. Even if you don’t agree with the big picture, at least make the change to change your own world. When you use words skillfully, it can change your life. Make no excuses. Nobody makes you speak the way you do. It takes very little application to learn to speak deliberately. Anyone can do it. Will you?

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