How many times have you been told to “watch your language” or scolded a child and said “don’t say THAT word”?
In American society, we often polarize words as being “good” or “bad”. When I have heard these phrases, they are typically speaking of words considered as “curse” words or “foul” language.
In truth, we have words that are considered “good” that are not given a second thought and are actually quite disempowering.
In the process of observing my own words and thoughts, I found several of these “fly under the radar” words that were incredibly harmful to my life and I began to shift them. Celebration!
Once we begin to act as an observer in our lives and the lives of our children, we begin to see how words that are considered “good” words can be extremely detrimental to our growth.
Earlier today, I was out with my little three year old grandson. We were having a great time playing at a local park until…..out of his little mouth came the very first word on my list. Oh no! What was I going to do, how would I handle it. This was a critical moment!
The very first word in my list is CAN’T!
This particular park has playground equipment. In one area, were these posts that were large enough to climb, stand and step to the next. They were similar to stepping stones but off the ground. They led you to the balance beam and then to the slide. Here was this amazing little boy having a fantastic time, when all of a sudden he encountered a challenge a little too big for him. With encouragement from me, I said, “what if you can?”. I held his hand as he carefully took each step and made it all the way to the slide! He said “I can do it, Grammy!” and I said “Of course, you can”!
This word is one that we say quite often to ourselves when something is a little challenging. Our thoughts and words are powerful tools. We can use them to propel us toward greatness or keep us stuck believing we “Can’t” get there. It is important that we use them to move us forward.
Have you figured out other words that you should eliminate from your vocabulary?
If you were looking closely, you saw the second word in my list SHOULD!
This little trouble making word is full of guilt and shame. When you use the word should, start to observe how you feel when you use it. For example, “I should clean the house”. “I should call my mother”. How many times have you or your child been in a situation where you “should” on yourself? One way to re-frame this is to either do the task or do not do the task and simply let it go. Example would look something like this “I cleaned the house”. “I will call my mother” or “I choose not to clean the house right now”. “I choose not to call my mother, today”.
The next word on my list is used as a word to connect sentences. The trouble with this little word is the mind focuses on it and everything said after it and disregards everything said before it. Unfortunately, we often put the good stuff before the word and it is no longer heard.
The number three word on my list is BUT!
Let’s test out a few examples. “You did a great job cleaning your room BUT you didn’t make the bed right”. In this instance, “you didn’t make the bed right” is the only thing heard and retained. Another way to say this might look something like “You did a great job cleaning your room!” If you are looking for a teachable moment on the bed, consider using “Would you like to see a really cool way to make the bed? Let’s try this together!”
Re-framing the way we say words takes a little practice. Once we start to observe our language and how it makes us feel, it becomes much easier to empower our children with these new ways of speaking.
Number four on my list is actually the phrase HAVE TO!
When we speak and say we “have to” do something it has a heaviness to it. It certainly does not sound like anything we want to do. This can feel extremely disempowering and over time add to feelings of dread and depression. When we have a task that we do want to do, we often say “I get to”. As we begin to see everything we do in life as a blessing, instead of a chore, life becomes much more empowering and enjoyable. Think of this example “I have to pay the mortgage payment”. Yuck! Seriously, who would want to do that! When we consider the mortgage payment pays for the home that provides shelter for our family, we recognize it is truly a blessing. We honor it with the re-frame “I get to provide a home and shelter for my family!”. Which one feels better?
The last word on my list is a tricky one. It is used in so many areas of our life. We see it on billboards. It may be heard it places of worship. We freely use the term with others.
Number five on my list is the word HOPE!
This one is a little harder to see and understand. It was not until I really tuned into my body when I said the word, that I recognized how much it made me feel helpless. Consider this example “I hope I get to take a vacation this year” versus “I am taking a vacation this year”. What about something bigger, “I hope I can provide for my family” versus “I know I can provide for my family”. So much of our language that is considered “good” is often quite disempowering. The word Hope gives the impression that we have no control over anything in our lives and feels quite passive. I have found when my faith is at its strongest, I have no need to HOPE because I KNOW that I am open to receive and I am taking inspired action to create the desired results.
At the end of the day, the voice in our head and the words coming out of our mouths, allow us to create an empowering or disempowering reality for ourselves. Children absorb everything at a rapid rate. The thoughts and words that empower or disempower help to shape them for the rest of their lives.