What our vocabulary hides
Did you know that your day-to-day vocabulary could be hiding some limiting beliefs? Read this article to find out more about it!
Our vocabulary can give away valuable information about our limiting beliefs.
“All X are Y”, “that’s impossible”, “I always have the same problem”, “that’s wrong”, “I’m not able to do this or that…” We say that type of expression without thinking, without being aware of the beliefs behind them.
There are even popular expressions that we say very often like “you can’t have it all”, “one must suffer to be beautiful”, “life is hard”…
I suggest that you pay attention to your vocabulary during the next few days. These phrases can give you valuable information about your beliefs. It doesn’t mean they will all be limiting – this exercise is simply about gaining awareness of which beliefs might be hiding behind our automatic expressions.
I like to do this exercise every now and then, especially when I re-read my journal or even the messages I send to my friends. It’s also very interesting to pay attention to our informal conversations when we are with a group of people, as we tend to use these automatic expressions more.
The following is a list of expressions that are very common, and for each one, I will suggest a few questions you can ask yourself to become aware of potential beliefs behind them.
“All X are Y”
Generalisations are very common and they will likely hide some type of prejudice.
Questions: All of them? With no exceptions? Have you ever met an X that is not Y?
Who used to say that?
“I have to…”
Obligations we impose upon ourselves. Very often they are not necessary or have a negative impact on our well-being.
Questions: According to whom? What for? What if you don’t do it?
“I would love to but I can’t”
When we say “I can’t” we are implying that we don’t have the power to make the decision. But, actually, we are free to decide if we are going to do something or not. It is all about your priorities.
For example when we say, “I can’t go to your birthday dinner because I’m very busy”, we are choosing to do something else. It might be working, resting or attending another commitment. But we CAN go, it’s just that we are deciding to do something else instead. Maybe the truth is that you just don’t feel like going to that dinner. Or not enough. If that same day you had the chance to see your favourite artist in a private concert, wouldn’t you postpone your obligations until the next day? Of course you would, because the concert would become your priority.
Questions: I can’t… or…I don’t want to? What happens if you replace I can’t with I choose?
“The same thing keeps happening to me over and over”
When we have a belief, for example, that we are not valued at work, we tend to see reality through tinted glasses. We tend to only remember the times when we weren’t praised, forgetting the times when we were thanked, appreciated and valued.
Questions: Always? 100% of the time? Can you think of a time when something different happened?
“This person makes me feel…”
When we say something like this we are implying that the other person has control over us. The way we react to anything is entirely up to ourselves and not up to someone else. If I told you you MADE me cry for three days because you didn’t like my article, you would think I’m crazy, right?
If you are interested in discovering how to easily and healthily manage your emotions, you should read this article.
Questions: Try changing “you make me feel” for “I feel”. Does that make any difference? What do you need to do to feel differently?
“Considering my bad luck, I’m sure I will end up….”
The end of this sentence is normally something negative. When we have the belief, for example, that we are very unlucky when it comes to love, we will “expect” negative events to confirm our belief, such as break-ups, arguments, etc. Again, we see life through tinted glasses and focus on the negative experiences, not paying attention to the times when things go well.
Questions: What else could happen? Could it go well? What makes you think that the most likely thing to happen is X?
This exercise is an invitation to think and become aware of what can be hidden under common expressions.
Does this mean that every time you say “I have to do something” there is a limiting belief behind it? Of course not! It’s just interesting to increase our awareness, but over-analysing ourselves is also not healthy.
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