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Words are extremely powerful and not just in how we talk to others. How we talk to ourselves can affect our mood, our goals, and our motivation. A few years ago, I started making small changes in how I used language in my everyday life, and I was amazed at the difference it made in my thoughts and emotions. Below are just a few examples of changes I have implemented.
But vs. And: Over the past few years, I have implemented this change in how I talk, and it has made a big difference in how I perceive situations. When we use the term but–we, in essence, negate everything we said before the but. For example, I want to workout today, BUT I have to get this report done. What that is saying is I don’t want to work out–when you add the, but only one of the items can be true. Just notice how it changes when you say I want to workout today, AND I have to get this report done. By adding the and both items are true. When we use the term ‘and’ you give the possibility for both to happen. Another example: “I think your hair looks great, BUT I liked it better short” Which sounds like a veiled insult versus “I think your hair looks great AND I liked it better short.” Both statements are true. Using the AND puts a natural pause in the sentence and allows both statements to have their space.
Yet: This word is one of my favorite additions to my vocabulary. Usually when we are talking about something we haven’t done (and want to do) or a goal we want to accomplish we say I can’t run 3 miles or I am not a successful attorney or I am not SEO savvy. When we add the term yet to these phrases it gives them hope, it gives them wings. So even if we aren’t doing it now, in the future, we will accomplish these goals. I can’t run 3 miles yet (I will be able to in 6 months.) I am not a successful attorney yet (I will be in if I keep working at it.) I am not SEO savvy yet (I will be after I do more research.)
You make me feel: A friend of mine pointed this one out to me recently when I said it to him ‘you make me feel anxious and he looked at me and said I can’t MAKE you feel anything. It was an old lesson for me but a good one. When we use the phrase “you make me feel” a certain way–we are taking away our power, our responsibility, our emotions. We are saying we have no control over how we feel and that someone else can manipulate our feelings. In reality, no one can make us feel a certain way–we have control over how we feel and how we react. We can take responsibility for how we feel by saying “I feel sad because I didn’t go to the party.” Using I statements takes away the blame and puts the responsibility back on us as individuals to understand and care for our emotions.