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The power of words and how they can control you

By Lilian Welling
from Balanced Living

Ever stood still and thought about how words can affect you and how you feel?

Looking at it simply; our feelings can get triggered by the words we hear (from others and ourselves).

Hearing something like “You’re not working fast enough” might cause feelings of hurt, anger, frustration or fear.

And when we feel like this our bodies react to it. Anger can cause our body to tense up. Fear can cause the body to be in a constant state of high alert/panic. Feeling hurt can make the body feel sluggish and lethargic. All of which cause the body to work at a less than optimum level. Causing our bodies to work extra hard, or to shut down all together.

Your body listens to your words and thoughts. This doesn’t necessarily have anything to do with reality, but revolves solely around your perception.

Eg, Your body will react a certain way when it ‘thinks’ there is a snake on the path, but it wont react if it ‘thinks’ there is a branch on the path. Therefore what you think and say is incredibly important.

One of the most common phrases that can cause you to feel stuck are the words “Have to”.

Please take a minute to do the following exercise:

Think back and make a list of some of the sentences you have said or thought that started with the words “I have to…..”

In a private space, take a few deep breaths into your belly, and try to relax your body as much as you can.

Once you are feeling relaxed, I’d like you to focus on the different things that you have written down.

Eg.         I have to go to work

I have to clean the house

I have to cook dinner

I have to visit my mother

I have to……

I have to……

And notice with every statement how your body reacts and feels.

Does it feel heavy or light, tensed or relaxed?

The words “Have to” tells the body that you have no other choice. And the fact that there is no choice creates a feeling of being burdened with another chore, making us feel heavier.

This also means the brain is not on the lookout for any other opportunities because it has not been given a choice.

Now, what if we changed the heavy energy we get  from “I have to” into a lighter one, and telling the body and brain “we have a choice!”

Rewrite your list of “I have to….”  By replacing the words with  “I choose to….”

Then take a few more deep breaths as you sit with each of the “I choose” statements and notice how the body is feeling now.

Remember that all we can do, is to make the best choices we can, with the information we have in that moment, and what feels best for us, at the time.

As time moves on we might get different information or have learned more. You are always allowed to change your mind at any time! Your choices are based on what you knew and how you felt at that point in time, and was the best possible choice for you at that moment.

So it is always important to reflect and check in on those choices, and make sure they are still working for you. (And if not…. change your choices!)

I would like you to challenge yourself, and ask “Do you really HAVE TO?? And according to whom?”

Have a read from the example below from someone who feels stuck in their job.

Person A: I have to go to work!

Challenger: Why and according to whom?

Person A: According to my partner and myself, I have to earn money to provide for my family.

Challenger: What happens if you did not go to work?

Person A: We would be living on the streets, and I don’t want that.

Challenger: So you have a choice: to go to work or live on the streets?

Person A: I suppose there is a choice, but I don’t want that.

Challenger:  So in other words: “You choose to work, because you want to be able to support and provide for your family”

Person A: When you put it like that…….. It does feel better.

Challenger: Great! But if you do not like the job have, why not change it?

Person A: I have to, I can’t find another job that pays enough.

Challenger: If there was another job available would you take it?

Person A: Yes, I would.

Challenger: So “You choose to stay in this job, until there is another one available”.

Making a statement that says “I have to stay in this job even though I don’t like it” puts the brain to sleep, as you have already made up your mind, it believes that it’s not negotiable, so no need to look for any other possibilities.

Making a statement that says “I choose to stay in this job to provide for my family, until I can find a job I enjoy better“ forces the brain to wake up and be on the lookout. So it will stay alert and scan your environment for other possibilities and opportunities.

Feel the difference.

Set a challenge for yourself and change your thoughts and words from “I have to” 🡪 “I choose to”   and you will start to feel a lot more in control in life.

More about the author

Lilian Welling
Lilian Welling
– Balanced Living

Balanced Living started in 2001 with the goal to empower other people.

Lilian is a Kinesiology Consultant and Educator, through various workshops and programs.

Her forte is to support people on emotional and mental levels, through the various challenges of life.

Lilian is available for face to face consultations as well as Zoom sessions.