I have heard my whole life that words have so much power over us. Whether they are spoken by someone else to or about us, or when we speak them to ourselves, the power of words can be tremendous over our lives.
Therefore, I am such a strong believer in speaking truth to myself. I work ardently to keep my own thoughts in check by reducing self-defeating ideas and building in affirmations and truth to repeat to myself.
I was reading a book recently about breaking the habit of bedwetting, of all things! Within the pages of this book, I was reminded of the power of words and how to use them for yourself and with your children.
The Power of Persuasive Language
Persuasive language is used all around us to coerce us to do things, such as by salesmen, politicians, and in advertising. This type of technique is learned and taught in sales coaching and for other types of marketing. These people understand how to encourage us to believe certain things and act on them.
Persuasive Language is Not Only for Marketing
What if we could use persuasive language ourselves to help change our own thinking or the way we teach our children?
This technique works on the premise that we are constantly thinking in pictures. Our minds are going all day long with the pictures running through it. We are thinking of what we want to eat for dinner, running through the tasks we need to accomplish, or what we need to buy from the grocery store, with all of this, pictures are running through our mind all day long.
Harness the Power of Words to Create Good Changes
Using these pictures that we have created, even if unintentionally, helps us act on them without even really thinking about it. Due to this process, it is helpful to realize that if we tell ourselves and our children what we WANT, rather than what we DON’T WANT, we are truly harnessing the power of the words for good changes.
If we tell ourselves, ‘Stop eating sweets’. It is hard to picture this and if we can it is often a negative image of ourselves missing out on something or looking dejected. It won’t help near as much as if we say, ‘Eat blueberries or an apple when you need a snack’. Then our mind imagines the beautiful image of blueberries and apples, ripe and colorful, and when we want a snack, we remember this image and enjoy going to the fridge for these fruits.
Tell Yourself ‘I am Going to…’
This can also work with our mindset. If we tell ourselves, ‘Stop being self-critical and doubting your abilities’. It doesn’t help us to create a picture in our mind to work from. Instead, try saying to yourself, ‘I am going to be bold and share my ideas in today’s meeting, just like I did last month.’
In this instance, your mind has the image of when you spoke with boldness before and you are reminded you can do it again. You can see and imagine yourself doing it again and you do so, barely having to think about it further!
You can also try to do this with your children
How many of you have told your kids things like, ‘Don’t leave such a mess’? This doesn’t give them much of an image to put in their mind. We say it to them over and over and think our kids are being defiant when they don’t obey. However, if we just change the way we address them, we would have much greater success. Try saying something like, ‘Let’s leave the kitchen (or your room) nice and tidy when we leave it’.
Give them a positive image of the clean space to work toward in their minds and watch how their behavior begins to change.
Your Words Can Create Obstacles
Did you know that our words can create obstacles for ourselves and our children?
Try this, think of something that’s been on your to do list for a while. Now make a sentence out of it.
Did you begin with one of the following phrases? I must, I should, I ought to, I need to, I might, etc.
These all give you a negative feeling that adds weight and pressure to the task.
If you tell yourself, I need to clean the closet out. That leaves you with an image that feels heavy, difficult and that will add struggle. I bet you imagined a dirty cluttered closet in your mind.
If instead, you tell yourself, I’m going to clean out the closet on Tuesday, it puts a whole new spin on it. It is more likely to put a positive feeling and image in your head, more like the image of the clean closet that will result and a positive feeling of accomplishment or success.
Avoid starting instructions to your children and goals or plans for yourself with the following phrases:
I must… I should… I ought to…I have to… I need to… I might…
You must…You should… You ought to… You have to… You need to… You might…
Did you notice that not only did I change the beginning of the phrase to make it more positive, but I also added a specific time I would do it? Using specifics for the commitment of a task helps you be more likely to do it!
Use the Power of Your Words to Create Positive Images
Use your words to create positive images for you and your children to see which will help with the positive follow-through. That small change in words can make a big difference.
Practice a little. Get out a piece of paper or open a document on your computer. Think of a task you have needed to accomplish but haven’t gotten it done. Try to tell yourself about it with persuasive language. It might be something like this.
I will trim the trees in the yard on Saturday. Rather than… I need to trim those trees.
Or…I am going to set an appointment to get the car looked at. Rather than…I have to get the car looked at.
There is a big difference in the way your mind perceives these tasks. Did you notice it? What did you come up with?
Now try writing out a few to use with your kids.
Let’s work together to keep the countertop cleared off.
Please keep your backpack on the bench after school.
You can play video games after all your homework is done.
How will you use persuasive language to make an impact in your home this week?
I am going to try to rework the requests and instructions I have for my kids. I am also going to rework the way I repeat my to-do list to myself.
I am going to make it positive and add a specific time for it to happen and see if I can follow through on more than I got done last week when I told myself I have to…
Let me know what you will rework with your words and how it goes by commenting below.