Our words matter. When we say something out loud, we want our actions to be consistent with those words. Find out how your words are helping or hurting your life.
Who said that?
I woke up late. Although I wanted to roll over and go back to sleep, I grunted as I got out of bed, ‘I’m going running. I’m committed to running’.
The utterance wasn't planned. It simply fell out of my mouth. As I put in my contacts, the words seemed to echo, ‘I’m committed to running’. It was as if someone else had said it and now I believed it was true.
As I laced up my running shoes, the words still rung in my head. They served as motivation to get going on that cold, dark morning and as I completed my run, the words acted as an exclamation mark. 'Yes, I’m committed to running!’
Consistent Words and Actions
I realized that day how much I wanted what I said to be consistent with what I did. This principle has enormous potential. We can use this rule to motivate ourselves to accomplish our goals by speaking them aloud. Being consistent with our words and actions allows us to live a credible life. If our words and actions don't line up, they serve as a constant reminder that we're not being honest with ourselves or others.
As we seek to marry our words and actions, our self-respect is at risk. If we say we're going to do something and then don't, we've lied to ourselves and others. We know that deep down and it's damaging to our soul. If we inflated the facts as we tell a story, we know we've exaggeratedand feel disappointed. We can't trust ourselves to tell the truth. To live a peaceful life, strive to align your words and actions.
Be careful not to use hyperbole with yourself because that makes it hard to believe what you're saying and impossible to align your actions. For example, if I say, Cathy, you are SO creative! You're going to write a book this month!, it won't happen. It's impossible based on my schedule and creative abilities. It's better to say, Cathy, you are creative. You're capable of writing a book. Put together an outline over the next two weeks and set out a writing timeline. I'm more likely to follow these instructions and make them true. They also serve as motivation.
A way to make my words even more persuasive is to tell someone else. That gives me more incentive to be consistent with my words and actions. Another strategy is to write them down and look at them every day.
Our Words can become a self-fulfilling prophecy
How we describe challenges defines the emotions that go along with it - Recently, I was disappointed that a friend didn't want to go out to dinner with me and I tried to make sense of the event. One way was to go in a negative direction and make her the problem. Instead I decided to believe that she had reasons for not going and she didn't owe me an explanation. By doing that, I preserved the relationship and avoided dwelling on destructive emotions.
How we describe our abilities defines how well we perform - A few years ago I had a particularly difficult task to take care of at work. I dreaded digging into it, knowing it would be tedious and confusing so I decided to give myself a pep talk. I enthusiastically described how good I was at accomplishing the task and how simple it would be. I told myself that I'd feel amazing once it was all wrapped up. It was unbelievable how much energy I attacked that project with. My positive words allowed me to complete it confidently in a shorter amount of time than I had originally anticipated.
How we describe our experiences will determine how much enjoyment we get out of them - This happened to me at the Boston Marathon. A friend had encouraged me to enjoy the entire race. My mantra became, 'I am enjoying this mile'. I said it over and over again near the end when my legs were screaming and my energy was gone. Each time my spirits were lifted, my enjoyment of the crowd increased and the pleasure of the experience skyrocketed. Even though it was difficult, my words convinced me that I was in a state of enjoyment.
Be intentional about what you say
The words we use will define how we experience our life. We can create difficulties by explaining circumstances with negative words. We then seek to fulfill the truth of those words and our experiences become negative. Let's say I describe an argument with a friend as horrible. I'll likely put an emotional barrier between us to make sure I'm aligned with my description. If I instead describe our exchange as perplexing, I'll seek to get more information from her (after we both cool off) so we can have a better understanding of each other's point of view.
Tony Robbins discusses a concept called Vocabulary Transformation. By using the right words we can improve how we think, feel, and live as we strive to make those words true. The right words allow our lives to be transformed.
Be honest with yourself and figure out if you are acting consistently between what you say and do. If not, forgive yourself and begin lining up your words and actions. Remember, when we lie to make things sound better than they really are, no one is fooled.
Identify the words you use commonly to describe your circumstances. As your mind creates consistency by living out those words, figure out if those words are working well for your life. If not, intentionally replace those words with ones that draw less negative emotion and more forward progress.