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Please Mind Your Language – It Matters a Lot to Mental Health

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In everyday use, we often employ structures and words that imply lack of choice, often unknown to ourselves. We are not present with our choice of words, hence we are not present with our choice of life.

For example, we say: ‘I am trying’. In reality, what we are saying in the ‘unspoken subtitles’ is: ‘I am not at all convinced I know how to do this, so I am putting some energy into it, however I am not 100% committed to it’.

If I were committed to a certain project, I would be saying: ‘I am doing/making xyz,’ to our entourage, regardless of effort and time frame involved.

Equally self-deflating is: ‘I should‘. Why is it self-sabotaging? Because we are arguing with reality. We are really saying that in an ideal world we would behave differently and because we are not in an ideal world, we behave the way we do. We can, instead, decide to create that ideal world, right here, right now. Instead of ‘I should change jobs’, ‘I can change jobs’. In fact I am going to create a little plan on how to go about it now so rather than saying: ‘I should find a relationship‘, ‘I am looking forward to creating a meaningful relationship. Now, I am going to write down some of the characteristics that the partner(s) need to have in order for it to be fulfilling for me.’

Another major deflator is: ‘I can’t’. When we focus on the negative, we are not allowing ourselves to stream, so to speak, our creativity. Hence, instead of ‘I can’t figure out why the computer doesn’t work’, try ‘I am going to, first of all, use all the knowledge I have to at least exclude some of the common failures of computers. If my knowledge were not enough, I can call the brand’s customer service and figure it out with them and if then we find out it needs physical repair, together we can find someone in my area’.

‘I can’t quit my job right now, I need the money’. How about: ‘I am afraid of quitting my job right now as I prefer to have the money of it. In the meanwhile, starting this evening, I am going to write a plan to show myself how to decrease my expenses so that my money goes a longer way and as a consequence I can reduce the number of hours I work. Equally, I will, in the same plan, start describing what my ideal position feels and looks like and, last but not least, I will write in the plan how to go about finding that ideal position’.

Would you like another major road block? In my experience, working with my clients, one of the major blockers and killjoys is: ‘I have to’.

Try freedom instead. Replace: ‘I have to work in this job that is totally not satisfying’ with ‘I choose, for the moment, to work in this position because it brings me financial safety and, also a sense that I am contributing to the world. While I do this, I choose to look for another position’.

‘I have to go to this family gathering’. Try on this: ‘While family gatherings are not my preferred get togethers because not much gets spoken about, I choose, also this year, to attend because my cousin Mary will be there and I have not seen here for a long time. That will be lovely’.

Or, ‘I have to go to this family gathering’. How about: ‘This year, I choose to stay home and do some gardening on the day that the family gathering happens. While this might be disappointing to several, I choose my personal freedom and well-being and I know that if I went to the gathering, it would really leave me disappointed in myself, because once again I would end up doing what I don’t want, only to please others’.

A question I received more than once: ‘What if there is really no choice? Suppose I get arrested and brought to jail. I have no choice as I am being whisked away in a police car’.

The answer that I tend to give is that while you might, indeed, be deprived of your physical freedom, how you handle the situation is entirely your choice, that happens through your cognitive processes. You can go down the path of ‘I have to go to jail’ or you can choose: ‘While the state has power to enforce certain laws, including the one that whisks me away physically, I choose to go along with these officers willingly. I am going to go to the police car willingly, I shall collaborate with them out of inner joy and, if they keep me in jail for a few days, I will choose for it to be a meditative and personal growth experience’.

And, you, which choices will you make today? From now on, Do you ‘have to’ work or do you choose to work because you like some, or most, of the benefits it brings you?

The choice of how to interpret your day, in any moment, is yours. Will you drag yourself down, psychologically and physically or will you choose each moment to be an opportunity to further enhance your quality of life? You decide.

Jerry Zondervan is the author of 4 Steps to a Healthy Romantic Relationship. You can learn more about his services on his website.

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