"Words have a magical power. They can bring either the greatest happiness or deepest despair; they can transfer knowledge from teacher to student; words enable the orator to sway his audience and dictate its decisions. Words are capable of arousing the strongest emotions and promoting all men's actions." -Sigmund Freud
My boyfriend recently convinced me to commit to doing Tabata squats with him at the gym.
If you don’t know what those are (I didn’t either), they’re a series of squat intervals over a short period of time. You do as many squats as you can for 20 seconds, rest for 10, and repeat until you’ve completed 8 sets.
We do them regularly after I finish my run. Last weekend, my legs were jello, and doing squats was nowhere near anything I wanted to do.
Now, I talk to myself during tougher workouts. Not out loud, but I’m talking to myself the whole time. Usually, it’s positive, reinforcing, self-talk. Call me a nerd, but it works.
This particular day, it sounded more like, “I’m tired. I want to go home. I so don’t want to do thiiiiiis. Ughhhh.”
And, wouldn’t you know it, my posture, and my first set of squats matched those words.
Another set went by. My legs felt like dead weight.
Then I caught my reflection in the mirror. I had some serious resting bitch face going on. Everything I was doing, feeling, and expressing was a representation of my internal dialogue.
I made a switch and brought out my inner cheerleader.
My next set was stronger, faster, and less painful, and this continued until the clock stopped.
Why am I telling you this? No, I’m not making a foray into the fitness world. This isn’t about the squats I got done (though, yay!). It's about the power our words have.
The words we choose can have a powerful influence over not only what we think and do, but how we perceive and experience a situation.
Take me and the dreaded Tabata squats. Even right there, “dreaded” makes me think about the squats in a negative way. When it’s flipped to, "These kick-ass Tabata squats make me stronger”, you'd better believe I have a different perception and attitude. Same workout. Same gym. Different words. Different outcome.
Our words influence what we think and believe. Our beliefs influence how we behave and the actions we do or don’t take. Those actions influence the results we do or don’t get, and those results go right back to influence our beliefs and words.
It’s a loop that, for so many of us, is running on cruise control at the wrong speed.
When we pay attention to the words we use every day, we can begin to shift our beliefs and how we show up in the world.
It sounds overly simple, but our words really are that powerful.
If you don’t believe me, I bet you can think about something awful someone in your past has said to you that still stings when you think about it now. Those are only words, but look at the influence they carry and the effect they have.
Imagine how much more impactful your own words about yourself are.
I hear it all the time, negative self-talk, negative words we say out loud about ourselves, thinking it doesn’t cause any harm.
According to this article in Psychology Today, “Plenty of research indicates positive self-talk creates positive results. Now an analysis of 32 different studies of self-talk in sports, indicates that the specific words we use when talking to ourselves also play a role in how well we perform. You can begin to shift the way you think, feel, and act by shifting your words. This shift, like so many things in our life, begins with awareness."
Where are you using words that are bringing you down? Where can you change your words for a more positive impact?
This isn’t about lying to yourself or fake positivity. It's about finding words that set you up for success and motivate you to do your best.
Here’s a bonus tip, when you’re talking to yourself. Use your name. Research shows it’s more powerful when you do.
If you’re feeling stuck, you can steal my words to you: “Keep going! You’ve got this! You’re amazing!"
Wishing you your version of success,
P.S. Let me know in the comments below, what words are you replacing with more empowering words?
P.P.S. Know somone else who might like this blog? I'd be ever so grateful if you shared it with them!