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The language we use shapes our thoughts and our experience. Think of the following:

“I’ve had a really bad day. I messed up a project and I’ll have to do it all over again. It’s all be my fault for being so useless, I’ll never catch up, I could lose my job when they find out.”
Compared with:
Right now I feel as if I’ve had a really bad day. I’ll probably get over it, but I realise I’ve got to re-do a project, and that’ll take time. I’d better keep my manager informed and let her know I’m rescheduling a couple of things. It’s competitive at work, but anybody can make a mistake. The important thing is how you correct it.”

The first example uses language which paints a pretty hopeless picture. It catastrophes and suggests that errors have permanent and final consequences, which of course, in this situation, they don’t.

The second example gives similar information in a more factual and action-based way. It also suggests what to do in the face of the event (a messed up project). It covers the same information without the personalised and judgemental language.

These are just examples, the point is the thoughts derived from the language can make you feel guilty and hopeless. It becomes part of a vicious cycle and leads on to other self-defeating thoughts.

By recognising this ‘inner dialogue’ you can intervene and change it. For guidance, aim for objective reporting (of events), and positive actions that might follow. The kind of language we use has a definitive impact on expectations and experience. Change the language and you can change how you feel, and consequently how you act. With practice, it can become a habit.

 

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