How To Beat Stress With The Power Of Words
The language makeover that will change your life.
Recently I’ve been trying something new to increase my productivity. At the end of the day, instead of saying, “I haven’t done x, y or z,” I’ve been saying, “I have done x, y or z.” In reality, I may have taken only a small towards my bigger goal, but at least I’ve done something.
Since doing this, I’ve found that I get up the next day ready to take some more steps forward instead of being stressed because I still have so much more to do.
This mindset has been working so well that I’ve started to apply it to other areas of my life. For example, now I say ,“This is what I’ve accomplished in my life,” instead of “This is what I haven’t accomplished in my life.”
I started wondering, though, whether this shift in thinking (the glass is half full as opposed to the glass is half empty) would be enough to sustain me on lean days when I really don’t get much done at all, or when I don’t reach a goal I’ve worked hard to achieve. So, I started doing a bit of research, and the answer is… I’ve stumbled onto something good. My method is sustainable because words have the power to change your brain.
The Gene - Brain Connection
Andrew Newberg, M.D. and Mark Robert Waldman have found that words can literally alter the expression of genes that impact the brain. “A single word has the power to influence the expression of genes that regulate physical and emotional stress,” they state in their book Words Can Change Your Brain.
Here’s how it works.
When your language consists of positive words, you strengthen areas in your frontal lobes and promote your brain’s cognitive function. Such words jumpstart the motivational centers of the brain and build resiliency.
Negative language is really a downer. It:
- messes with genes that play a key role in the production of neurochemicals that protect us from stress
- increases the activity in the fear center of out brain (our amygdala)
- releases lots of hormones that produce stress and neurotransmitters that in turn interfere with the functioning of logic, reason, and language in our brain.
Newberg and Wakden write, “Angry words send alarm messages through the brain, and they partially shut down the logic-and-reasoning centers located in the frontal lobes.”
In changing my mindset, I’ve played with words. I’ve eliminated the negative word “not.” When one sees the glass as half full, they are using the positive word “full” instead of the negative word “empty.”
The positive words motivate you, whereas the negative ones create stress, fear, and anxiety even though logically, there is no reason for this to exist. The problem is that you can’t even see how unreasonable your thoughts are because the negative words interfere with your ability to apply logic and reason.
Tips to Incorporate Positive Language in Your Life
It’s amazing how many negative words we use on a daily basis. We sprinkle words like “not”, “no, “problem,” “complain,” “don’t,” and “missed,” in sentences as naturally as one sprinkles seasoning on food to enhance its taste. How many times have you found yourself saying these negative words or phrases?
- Why not?
- No problem.
- Can’t complain.
- Constructive criticism.
Do you tend to state the problem instead of the solution? That counts in the negative category as well.
Instead of using those words, use words like:
- Good (Sounds good)
- Well (Everything is going well.)
- Great (It’s great to see you.)
- I like.. (I like it when you do this..)
When you want to tell someone “no,” explain why you are saying “no.”
What’s great about using positive language is that it will reduce your stress, and it will also help eliminate stress at home and at work.
The next time a negative word is about to spill from your lips or a negative thought forms in your head, flip it to the positive. Do it enough, and you’ll fill your vocabulary with rich positive words that will produce a healthier, happier outlook on life.