Building Resilience, Powering Performance

I recently discovered, that the word ‘Abracadabra’, which is used by magicians, before pulling the proverbial rabbit out of the hat, is a phrase in Aramaic (a Semitic language) and it means, ‘I will create as I speak.’ The first known mention of the expression was in the second century AD. It was used as a charm to cure diseases. While there is no scientific proof of its healing capacity, it looks like people so far back knew that words we use have the power to impact lives.  

Language is how we connect with others to share our thoughts, experiences, and emotions. It is how we communicate with ourselves too. The words and expressions we use, reflect our interpretation of the world, and influence our thoughts and actions. They become our experience of the world. The meaning we attach to words gives them emotional power. This power can inspire or discourage, support, or crush, empower, or diminish. 

In his book, ‘words can change your brain’, neuroscientist Dr. Andrew Newberg, says, “Language shapes our behavior and each word we use is imbued with multitudes of personal meaning. The right words spoken in the right way can bring us love, money, and respect, while the wrong words—or even the right words spoken in the wrong way — can take a country to war. We must carefully orchestrate our speech if we want to achieve our goals and bring our dreams to fruition. 

Leaders use the power of words to transform emotions and inspire change. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s ‘ I have a dream’ speech or Mahatma Gandhi’s ‘Quit India’ movement are famous examples. We can use this power to trigger our positive emotions and behavior by choosing active and powerful words. By observing our internal dialogue, we can develop an understanding of the impact of what we say. We experience this impact on our feelings when others speak to us. This is why we avoid complainers, are drawn to people with cheerful dispositions, and seek inspirational leaders. 

Tony Robbins, talks about the role of emotional state and patterns in shaping decisions and actions. Consciously selecting the words we use to describe our feelings is a powerful way of attaining the emotional state that serves us. By using the right words, we can enhance the positive, reduce the intensity of negative, and find empowering meaning of events in our lives.

I am sharing below some diminishing/restrictive words and their alternatives. Notice how reframing alters the energy levels by giving you the power of choice. 

Restrictive / Disempowering wordsEmpowering choices
 I have to / I need to / I mustI choose to / It is important to me
I can’tI don’t want to / I choose not to
I shouldI could/ I want to/ It is important to me
I will tryI will do, I aim to
I was justI am
 ButAnd

We owe it to ourselves to develop a positive internal vocabulary and transform our external experience. Next time while constructing a sentence, ask yourself what impact do you intend to create with what you are saying or thinking.