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The Power of Positive Language

Updated: Oct 1, 2023

The words we use are so incredibly powerful and it has even been shown in studies that they can change the brain. We often have particular habits that we get into when it comes to the way we speak and the language we use and that repetition can have a profound effect on how others perceive us, not to mention the impact it has on our own subconscious. So, how can you change your own language and choice of words to improve your mindset?

Sorry doesn't seem to be the hardest word

Do you find yourself constantly apologising or just using the word "sorry", even when you've done nothing wrong? Do you often start a sentence with "sorry" just out of habit, as though you are apologising for existing?

"Sorry, is this seat taken?"

"Sorry to bother you."

"Sorry, can I ask a question?"

Obviously, "sorry" is an important word and there are times when it's very much needed, but over-apologising causes others to doubt you. It can even make you seem weak, submissive and lacking in confidence.

One way to reduce your number of apologies and change the habit is to show gratitude to the other person instead. So, rather than apologising for being late, thank them for waiting for you and let them know you value and appreciate their time. If someone points out a mistake you made, rather than apologise, thank them for pointing it out so that you have the opportunity to correct it.

Don't think about all things that make you stressed

Are you in the habit of using negative forms of words such as "don't" or "can't" when you speak to yourself or others? As a teacher, I was taught that you should always use positive sentences when giving instructions to children. For example, instead of asking a child not to shout, you'd ask them to speak quietly. Instead of telling them not to run, you'd simply ask them to walk.

The subconscious works in a similar way. It doesn't pick up on the word "don't" but hears the rest of the instruction and reacts to that instead. If I ask you not to imagine a pink elephant, you have to imagine it first to know what I'm telling you NOT to imagine! Now you have an image of a pink elephant in your head and it's difficult to remove it, isn't it? Every time I ask you not to think about pink elephants, I'm just reinforcing that image and making it stronger. Imagine what would happen if I repeated that instruction several times throughout the day, every day.

So, instead of saying, "don't get anxious", which requires you or the other person to imagine anxiety so that you can then attempt to avoid it, it's much more effective to use a word such as "calm" or "relax". Think about how many times a day you tell yourself or someone else not to do something. Notice it and think about how you can give a positive instruction instead. Focus on what you want, rather than what you don't.

Is it really all or nothing?

When was the last time you caught yourself using words such as "everybody", "everything", "nothing", "nobody" or "always"? Often, when we do this, it is in a negative way, so we convince ourselves that a situation is much worse than it is.

"Everything is going wrong."

"Everybody hates me."

"Nothing ever goes my way"

"I always lose."

I bet you have plenty of your own examples. Next time you catch yourself using any of these words in a negative way, either when talking to others or in your self-talk, start to question it and find examples that prove it's untrue. All you really need to do is put a question mark after each of those words. Everything? Always? Nothing?

Should you or shouldn't you?

This is a word I quite often talk about. Is there anything worse than being told what you should or shouldn't do? None of us likes it, yet we use this word a lot. Whether you're talking to yourself or others, notice when you use it. If you're talking about an event that has passed, you can no longer change it, so thinking about what you should or shouldn't have done is pointless. Learn from the past and then move on.

If you're relaxing and telling yourself you should be doing something else, you actually aren't achieving anything. You aren't relaxing because you're beating yourself up and you aren't enjoying the moment because you have a sense of underlying guilt spoiling everything. So, either do the thing you feel you "should" be doing, make a plan to do it later or decide your relaxation time is more important and put it out of your mind. One way to do this is to use the word "could" instead. That makes it more of a choice, at least.

"I could do the washing up, but I've decided that I'm going to sit and read my book instead!"


"Must" is another of those words that wind us up when we hear them from other people. My tutor referred to this as "musturbating"! Who likes being told that you really MUST do something? Who says? Whose rules are you following? Yet, we use it in our own self-talk all the time. Again, look at what you're telling yourself you must do and start to question it. Must you really? Isn't everything actually a choice? Can you replace it with the word "could" and take some power back? Next time you catch yourself "musturbating", take a step back and look at your options.

Quiet the Inner Critic

You listen to yourself all day long. Imagine that you are constantly hypnotising yourself because that's what's happening. You can either encourage yourself and build yourself up or you can knock yourself down and eventually fail, just because you have convinced yourself that it's a fact. Is it time to start making some changes and turn that inner critic into a cheerleader?

Please get in touch to find out how hypnotherapy can help to install some more positive vocabulary and help you gradually build that important sense of confidence and self-belief so that you can go on to achieve your goals.

I offer a six-week hypnotherapy programme that will help you find that inner confidence. Please book an initial consultation today so we can have a good chat about how you're feeling and what we can do to help move you forward.

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