If you were speaking to a friend it’s likely that you would choose your language carefully as not to offend them or do damage to your friendship. You would probably be gentle when delivering bad news, and be enthusiastic with any good news.
So why don’t we show ourselves the same level of love and respect?
Language is actually a lot more important than we give it credit for. Language is the reason we are such a developed species and how we are able to understand and learn on such a large scale.
Consider this; in his book Sapiens, historian Yuval Noah Harari, PhD, discusses a theory that at one time in history there were up to six different types of humans living on the planet. I’m not talking races, I’m talking versions of humans.
Every human on the planet today is a Homo sapien, but in his book, Dr. Harari introduces the Homo neanderthalensis, Homo soloensis, and Homo erectus, among others. He credits the survival of the Homo sapiens solely to their ability to communicate using more complex language compared to the other human varieties.
The Homo sapiens were able to pass down information that would help future generations survive so that each generation wasn’t trying to reinvent the wheel. It’s how we’ve been able to evolve as a species and become the complex and intelligent beings we are today.
Language has always been an important part of our development, and it still is today. In today’s world, language has many uses, including having a major impact on emotional wellbeing.
Words have emotional connections
Words are powerful things. They have the power to influence our emotional state because of the connections we’ve attached to them. For example, the word terrorist probably evokes a fearful, negative emotion, whereas love-bug probably evokes a playful, positive emotion.
So it’s safe to say that the words you use most often will probably be closely related to the emotional state that you are in most of the time.
Let’s say you don’t like your job. Maybe you verbalize your negative feeling with words like loath and hate, and maybe you describe your job with words like boring, agonizing, unbearable, painful, excruciating and intolerable.
When you use words, you automatically take on their emotional connection. So when you choose words like these with such a negative emotional connection, you’re actually dragging your emotional state down.
Maybe you really don’t like your job, but what if you used words more like dislike, not preferred, unappealing which have a much less negative connection.
It might sound crazy, but this could make your job feel more bearable, and could change your emotional state, especially if you find yourself often describing your distaste for your job.
Turn down the negative, blast the positive
The same is true for positive word connections. If you really like something, but you turn down the volume with the words you use, what you’re really doing is turning down the positive emotional state that you feel when you think about those things.
For example, if you really like your houseplants, but you describe them as nice, pretty, fine, bla bla bla the emotional connection you’re choosing is weak! Why not use words like love, divine energy, radiant glow, brings life to the space, and on and on. You’d be choosing words that really turn up the volume and more accurately describe your emotional charge toward your plants. It might actually make you love them more!
Upgrade Your Emotional Vocabulary
Here’s a great exercise to see how your language is affecting your emotional state. List the top 10 emotions you feel on a regular week. Be honest with yourself, and write down the words that you would actually use to describe how you feel.
Then look at your list and see if you can find new words that you could start using that would turn down your negative emotional state and blast your positive emotional state.
These are the kinds of upgrades you could make:
Happy = Delighted/Filled with Joy/Blissful
Frustrated = A Bit Annoyed/Peeved
Angry = Upset/Cross
Excited = Ecstatic/ Thrilled/Enthusiastic
Depressed = Feeling Down/Unhappy/Blue
Now the real challenge is to use these upgraded words in place of your old selection. This may seem like an insignificant shift, but it can have such a large impact on your daily emotional state.
The idea here isn’t to lie about how you really feel. If you feel f*cking angry you can definitely use words that will effectively convey that emotion. But what I’m getting at, is if you used that kind of language on a regular basis, your general emotional state would probably be pretty low.
I’m saying, ask yourself how do you really feel? Do you really feel aggravated that your child isn’t listening, or do you just feel a little annoyed? You get to decide which words to use and how intense the emotional state is that you’re welcoming in.
Try it out and let me know how it goes!