The Words You Say MATTER

December 6, 2017


Have you ever thought about how much power the words you say have on your behavior?


I like to use this small example …


Imagine that you say that you are clumsy and uncoordinated. Will you be inclined to jump on the dance floor? Will you join your best friend and take yoga or boxing classes? Probably not. After all, you are clumsy and uncoordinated, so why bother?


The words you say out loud limit your behavior and your decisions.


In a study published in The Journal of Consumer Research in August of 2012,  researchers found that people who said, “I can’t eat that” were less successful at sticking with diets than people who said, “I don’t eat that.”


Isn’t that fascinating? Just the word “don’t” makes it a choice instead of a deprivation, which feels better and empowers positive behavior.


Carol Dweck, a professor of psychology and the author of Mindset: The New Psychology of Success, is another researcher whose work highlights the power of self-talk.


Dweck’s research focuses on the difference between a “fixed” mindset and a “growth” mindset. Those with a fixed mindset believe their ability to succeed is based on innate abilities and cannot therefore be changed. Those with a growth mindset believe their ability to succeed is based on hard work, incremental growth, training, and learning new skills. Dweck believes, and her research shows, that those with a growth mindset achieve more success than those with a fixed mindset.


While those with a fixed mindset would say, “I am clumsy and uncoordinated,” those with a growth mindset might say, “You know, I have never had any dance training. I bet if I took a few dance classes, my coordination would improve.”


When you say words, then, say words that give you hope and encourage you to learn and grow.


Here is an example of a fixed mindset and how you might change the words to a growth mindset:


Fixed Mindset: “I’m not good at math.”


Growth Mindset: “Sometimes it takes me longer than other kids, but if someone explains it well, I always get it eventually”


Here’s another one…


Fixed Mindset: “I’m terrified of public speaking.”


         Growth Mindset: “Public speaking is a skill like any other, and I’ve learned

lots of skills in my life. I guess with proper coaching and practice I could

overcome my fear and learn this skill too.”


And one more…


Fixed Mindset: “I have terrible luck with men/women.”


Growth Mindset “I have had my share of heartache, but I’ve learned a lot about what I don’t want in a relationship, which means I’m getting better at choosing my partners and taking care of myself through the process.”


While there are many things you cannot control in life, you can control the words that come out of your mouth (for the most part). With a little self-awareness you will find that there is great power in choosing your words carefully.


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