While many of us subconsciously believe that we use language to objectively represent reality, the research says otherwise. The research supports the idea that language creates reality. In other words, it is not only true that we are what we eat, but it is also true that we live what we believe.
Language has tremendous power of suggestion the more we “suggest” something, the more likely we are to take action that makes it a self-fulfilling prophecy.
Let’s look at some statements I have heard over the past few weeks:
- • I can’t do this.
- • I don’t know what I want.
- • I am not as smart has him.
- • She never listens to what I have to say.
- • We can’t communicate at all.
- • We just can’t agree on anything.
- • There is no more trust here.
- • I have no idea how to advocate for myself.
- • I can never make it on my own.
The feelings behind these words are very powerful, but what reality do they invite when repeated again and again? The truth is, it doesn’t take long to convince ourselves (and others) that we really can’t …., don’t know how to ….., will never be able to ….., aren’t as smart as ….., and so on. The more we state it, the more we believe it, the quicker it becomes reality.
But what if the opposite were also possible? What if language could also create a more positive, hopeful and empowered reality than the one we are currently experiencing?
In a 2010 TED Talk, Caroline Casey shares a truly extraordinary experience confirming the absolute power of suggestion in the mind – the way in which language creates reality. (Because I do not want to ruin the impact of this talk, no synopsis, just a “must watch” link.)
The scientific research community supports this claim as well. In a 2013, Scientific American article, Your Thoughts Can Release Abilities Beyond Your Normal Limits, you can read about research studies in which outcomes of control groups vs. experimental groups are altered solely based upon the power of suggestion.
So, as you are going about your day, navigating what life places in front of you, here are some suggestions for leveraging the power of suggestion to point you in a more positive, empowered and hopeful direction:
Adopt the word “yet.”
Whenever someone tells me they do not know the answer to a question or don’t know how to do something, I teach them to include the simple word “yet” at the end of the statement. “I don’t know how to look for a job – yet.” ‘Yet’ definitively suggests that the knowledge or understanding is on its way, rather than completely unavailable.
Focus on “what went right”
Virtually every moment of very day gives us the opportunity to choose how to focus our thoughts and attention. Are you upset because it is raining or feeling grateful because you remembered to bring an umbrella? Do you beat yourself up because you burned the dinner or pat yourself on the back because you have a great back up plan – ice cream for dinner at the end of a hot summer day is one of my favorites! Do you panic all the way to work because you spilled coffee on your suit, or walk into your meeting and recognize this as an opportunity to give your stressed-out staff permission to be human and imperfect. Our mind is wired to notice the negative, and we can train it to see the positive.
Replace “must,” “have to,” and “need to” with WANT
How many times per day do we walk around saying things like, I have to…., I need to…., I must….. These phrases lock us into narrow places. I accomplish them and I avert disaster or a negative outcome; I do not fully achieve them and I am a failure. Either way, my reality is a narrow place of bordered on one side by temporary and fleeting moments of safety and bordered on the other by failure and demise. When I “want” to do something, it refocuses our thoughts and attention on what there is to gain, opportunities that are available, and what makes us happy.
As in Caroline’s story, language alone is not sufficient to create reality, but language coupled with belief is what points the needle of life’s compass in a particular direction. Once the needle is pointing where you want to go, then it is about taking action in that direction.
So if you have been standing on the fence about a decision, beating yourself up for failures or falling short, or notice that your mind spends most of its time consumed with the negative, try intentionally shifting a few of those 15,000+ utterances per day in a new direction. And when you are clear about wanting to point the needle in a new direction and take the actions to get there, contact me. I am eager to journey with you to a new reality.
Adina Laver is the author of the Divorce Companion™ and founder of Divorce Essentials™, a specialized divorce coaching and support service for those who are considering, in the midst of, or post-divorce and are committed to a healthy path for reclaiming their lives.