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Inner peace and relaxation
Positive Language

The other day, a friend told me she was trying to clean up her language. She was trying to eliminate swearing, mostly, but she was also cleaning up the way she used words to describe people she didn’t like.  She was doing this for religious reasons. What she didn't realize is, whether God notices the change or not, using positive language works because it reprograms limited beliefs in the subconscious.

Before I got involved with hypnotherapy, I had heard both religious and New Age circles speak about the importance of using positive language to promote prosperity. I have to admit I didn't really understand it until I became a hypnotherapist. Speaking with clients trying to reverse a challenging health situation, for example, I would hear how their language directly influenced their mindsets, and how with treatment over time, the mindset and language would improve together.

Imagine a client comes in with chronic pain. The client spends much time describing the pain, and then, after a while, I ask, “And what do you want instead?” Close to 100% of the clients would respond by saying, "I want the pain to stop!” Interestingly, that statement does not describe what they want; it describes what they don’t want - pain!  Since the subconscious works in images, the subconscious mind focuses even more intently on the main idea - pain. What a client wants instead is actually a healthy and comfortable body, the ability to sleep through the night and easily exercise. By focusing on the word “pain,” the client is indirectly suggesting to the mind to continue focusing on pain, and therefore instructs the brain to maintain pathways in the brain devoted to pain.

Clients who have had chronic illness for years begin to identify with their illness. It's who they are. They are the person who needs a wheelchair at the airport, the person with the handicap sticker, or the person who can win arguments by demonstrating the illness and/or the fatigue that comes with it. These clients understandably have found images and vocabulary that makes living with chronic illness more bearable. They use expressions like, "I'm sick all the time” or "I can't do those things because I'm sick." They own their illness with expressions like, “my arthritis" or "my cancer.” I totally identify with these clients; I've been there and done that. Using that kind of language offers a level of comfort. If I own my illness, then it seems less threatening. If I “am" my illness, it's not my fault, so I feel less shame over not fitting in or being a letdown in some way. If I “can't” do something, I provide a warning, so there won't be any disappointment.

Though useful at times, negative language reinforces limited belief systems in the subconscious. Being sick "all the time" conjures the image of a 24-hour clock that runs seven days a week, 52 weeks a year. Maybe the truth is more like "I wake up feeling dizzy for the first hour of the morning, and then I feel fatigued after dinner." In any case, the language is inaccurate, and describing it that way could contribute to more illness.

The concept of anxiety as a mental state and how it affects thoughts and emotions.
Contrasting Words

Relationships are another area where positive language really matters. Calling someone a liar, for example, when the person really is an exaggerator turns a colorful means of expression into a crime or a sin. Speaking badly about coworkers could create powerful enemies, and reflect back on the speaker. Making fun of a spouse in public, or even privately to friends, not only wounds your beloved, it creates the impression that you are a fool to be married to such a person. And, of course, if someone you're in a relationship with finds out you've been bad mouthing them, all trust is gone. It's really important to have control over your speech. Always imagine the person is present in the room when you are describing that person. If I'm in a situation in which I'm required to say something that would be construed as negative by the person I'm talking about, I usually preface it by saying, "We all have faults, and it's important to love people the way they are, including their faults. So and so may have this fault, but is also a great person.” That way, if word ever got back to the person I criticized, I can honestly say I spoke with compassion, even while admitting what was said.

But the most important person to speak well of is oneself. Using positive language to describe motives and character flaws does two things: first it is self-effacing, so others will perceive you as modest; second, it prevents the subconscious from drawing upon larger-than-life images. Therefore, it provides the subconscious with a chance to heal.

Compare these statements:

“I always mess up” versus “Sometimes I get distracted.”

"I'm not good enough” versus “Today I need more practice.”

“Joe's better than me "versus "Joe really understands his work.”

The first set of statements, aside from having a negative tone, are vague and conjure sweeping negative imagery. The second set of statements are more exact and therefore seem more grounded in reality.  Since they are less negative, they are also less stressful to say or hear.

This is where the New Age idea of negative words creating negative energy connects to how people experience life. If I'm saying something stressful, my voice sounds stressed, and my face looks it. Those listening to me see my tense body language and make a negative judgment. If I feel relaxed about the positive content of my words, the judgment will likely be a positive one.

So, when speaking about myself, I can keep an aura of protection around me simply by using neutral to positive language. “I’m good enough” “I’m doing my best” “I’m getting better every day” “I’m fine the way I am”.

Some question the strategy. They believe that those who think too positively about themselves will wind up narcissistic or lazy. But the truth is narcissists are secretly insecure. They may make sure they get what they want, but they're not relaxed about it. And people also know when they aren't doing their best. If I say "I'm doing my best," I better mean it if I want to feel relaxed about it. So, speaking these positive mantras over yourself simply trains your mind to really go ahead and do or be the thing. If I say “I'm good enough” often enough, I will rise to the occasion.

Examine your vocabulary and lovingly craft some new ways of speaking. More and more, day by day, revise negative expressions of challenging traits and ideas. Soon you will experience a much more positive state of mind as well as enjoy improved relationships and accomplish your goals.

Support and Comfort represents the role of a hypnotherapist in providing guidance and support.
Positive self-image and Mindset

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