4 Reasons Why Language Is Power

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Ever thought about the power of language? Yes, no? I hadn’t until about three years ago. Why? Well, as I’ve mentioned in many of my posts, about three years ago I began to develop myself, really develop.

And, when you work on yourself, from the inside out, which is the only real way, you begin to understand the power that we, you, hold within you. It is a vast power, and language is a part of that power.

Before we begin to look at the power of language, let’s start with a definition.

language

NOUN
1. The method of human communication, either spoken or written, consisting of the use of words in a structured and conventional way.

Oxford Languages

Alright, pretty straightforward, right? Do you read anything in there about the power of language? No, me either. However, it’s there, believe me. Let’s take a look then at 4 reasons why language is so powerful.

1. Language is what we use to create meaning

As I’ve written about in other posts, human beings are meaning-makers. We continuously construct narratives, or stories, about life. We take in information, a stimulus, and we convert that information into a patterned story about how we perceive ourselves. Then we respond.

We respond from the space of the story. From the beliefs we hold about who we are. Can you see the power in that. Pretty powerful.

For instance, if we believe we are limited, because someone told us that when we were little, we will respond from a space of limit. Without thinking about it. Important.

In this example, it’s not as if we are consciously thinking about these limitations. These limitations live in the stories we tell ourselves, and others about who we are. They operate independently. Aware of them or not, they are there. Powerful.

Imagine deciding to not do something because someone told us not to do that thing when we were little. If we really sit inside of this concept, it may fill us with sadness.

Know, however, that at the end of this article we will discuss how to get in touch with the stories we have. Why? Because when we are aware of them, even though we don’t know all of them, we can choose a different response. We can create new stories.

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2. Language is what we use to communicate

Though verbal and written communication are not the only ways we communicate with each other, they are two of the primary ways we do so. We take that which we know to be “true,” drawn from the stories we have about ourselves, and use it to construct language to communicate with people.

Further, when we communicate with people, and they do or say something to confirm the story we have about ourselves, that story becomes more codified.

These stories, then, have been “confirmed” over years and years of inner-dialogue, and are also “proven” by those we interact with. Complex. And simple.

For instance, if I believe that I am limited, and act that way, then those around me, after time, will stop asking me to do things that stretch me, or make me uncomfortable.

Not because they don’t want me to stretch and grow, rather because I always say no. I confirm for them my own self-perceived limitation. And, in return, they confirm that limitation in my mind by not asking me to stretch and grow.

Thomas Cooley wrote about this concept over 100 years ago.

“The looking-glass self describes the process wherein individuals base their sense of self on how they believe others view them. Using social interaction as a type of “mirror,” people use the judgments they receive from others to measure their own worth, values, and behavior”

Lesley University

And, then sociologist Erving Goffman took Cooley’s work further.

“The term ‘symbolic interactionism’ refers, of course, to the peculiar and distinctive character of interaction as it takes place between human beings. The peculiarity consists in the fact that human beings interpret or ‘define’ each other’s actions instead of merely reacting to each other’s actions. Their ‘response’ is not made directly to the actions of one another but instead based on the meaning which they attach to such actions. Thus, human interaction is mediated by the use of symbols, by interpretation, or by ascertaining the meaning of one another’s actions.” (Blumer, p. 180, in Paul Gingrich)

Hawaii.edu

Therefore, how we think is how we act, believe, and perceive. And, those around us do the same. Have you ever had an interaction with someone that didn’t know you, and they interacted with you in a way that didn’t fit the story you have of yourself? Yes? What did you do?

Did you align with your own story about the person you believe yourself to be? Or, did you act in a different way? Most of the time, people will continue to behave as they have, which is consistent with the actions, beliefs, and perceptions they have of who they are.

Reason? Because to act, believe, and perceive otherwise is incongruent with their perceived identity. And, all of it, the actions we take, and the beliefs and perceptions we have first of all live in language. That is powerful.

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3. Language is what we use to make sense of the world

When you look out your window, what do you see? A tree? A bush? The sun or moon? Whatever you see, and the words you use to describe the world all live in language. All of it.

Think about the word sun. Where did that come from? Well, let’s take a quick look.

Origin

“Old English sunne, of Germanic origin; related to Dutch zon and German Sonne, from an Indo-European root shared by Greek hēlios and Latin sol .”

Oxford Languages

And, even cursory searches of the internet will show that the roots of the word sun cross cultures.

“This is ultimately related to the word for “sun” in other branches of the Indo-European language family, though in most cases a nominative stem with an l is found, rather than the genitive stem in n, as for example in Latin sōl, Greek ἥλιος hēlios, Welsh haul and Russian солнце solntse (pronounced sontse), as well as (with *l > r) Sanskrit स्वर svár and Persian خور‎ xvar. Indeed, the l-stem survived in Proto-Germanic as well, as *sōwelan, which gave rise to Gothic sauil (alongside sunnō) and Old Norse prosaic sól (alongside poetic sunna), and through it the words for “sun” in the modern Scandinavian languages: Swedish and Danish solen, Icelandic sólin, etc.”

Handbook of Germain Etymology

Yet, is the sun, the sun? Or is it a star? Same with a tree. Is a tree, a tree? Or, is it something else. The point? That the language we use to describe the world becomes just that. The world we see. The world we know.

When we see a tree, we don’t question the fact that at some point a tree was not called a tree. Nor was the sun called the sun. They were called something else, or nothing at all.

The relationship we have with the language we use to describe the world we see and perceive as our reality, is therefore extremely important, and powerful. It must be.

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4. Language is what we use to create our reality

Yep. Truth. Language is what we use to create meaning, to communicate, to understand the world, and to create our reality. In another post, I wrote something like, there are 7 billion different realities on this planet. Truth. How’s that?

Because we all understand our reality as we understand it. Yes, based on the stories we are told about who we are, the stories we then create to fit these stories, and the conformations we get from those around us that codify our notions of the stories we know to be true about who we are.

And, that is creating our reality. One thought, belief, and perception at a time.

However, because language, and our interpretation of it, is so powerful, we can also use language to create a different reality, with different stories, beliefs, and perceptions. Yep, we can.

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As with most things, first you need to be aware of the power of language. Check. Then, it is about learning to notice when you are creating a reality that consistently fits the story of who you think you are. If that is what you want for your reality. Awesome. Done. If not?

Once you are aware, and notice how you consistently continue to create a response to a stimulus that is in alignment with, let us say, limitation, you can begin to choose a different response.

A response that aligns with the reality you now want to create. A reality without limits. Powerful.

Phew, that was a lot. More than I expected in this one post. Yet, because language is so powerful, there is a lot more to write about. A lot more.

Yet we will leave that to a future post.

Language is powerful. We can use language to confirm all the things we think about ourselves, given to us by someone else, and continuously confirmed by ourselves and everyone around us. OR.

We can use language to disrupt that which we believe we know about ourselves, and use the power of language to create a whole new reality for ourselves. And, guess what?

Everytime someone chooses disruption over the status quo, everyone benefits. All of humanity does.

#beliefs, #communication, #concepts, #creatingmeaning, #creatingnarratives, #creatingstories, #language, #perceptions, #philosohpy, #practical, #practice, #psychology, #reality, #socialpsychology, #sociology, #stimulusresponse

Create A Vision For Your Future Self in 5 Minutes

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Alright, I’ve written about creating a vision for yourself in several posts, yet, to date, have not walked through the process of doing so. What’s interesting is that people usually associate creating a vision with business, which makes sense, yet it makes as much sense, as we will discuss, to create a vision for yourself – for your life. Ready? Let’s go.

What’s first?

First, you want to get out all of your ideas about what your future self will look like, think like, and feel like. Here are some questions to get your thinking started.

  • What are your goals?
  • Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
  • Where do you see yourself in 3 years?
  • Where do you see yourself in 1 year?

That’s enough to get us started. Let’s take them one at a time, and use practical examples. Here we go.

Identify your 5-year goals

Make a list of all of your goals. Yep, all of them. Why? Because at this stage, you are concentrating on getting out all of the goals that you want to accomplish. Make a list. Here are some of mine.

  • Publish a book
  • Travel to Spain
  • Learn Spanish
  • Travel to Japan
  • Knee recovery so I can run again
  • Expand our remote community education classes
  • Take a trip out of the country with my best friend

Alright, there are some we can work with. Once you have your goals identified, pick one to start working on. Where you start in the future will depend on the goal. I suggest going out as far as you can. Why?

Because you will find that once you start thinking about 5 years from now, let’s say, more goals will come to mind.

Now that you have your 5-year goals identified, time to start working those goals backward. Meaning that you need to create 3-year goals that connect to the 5-year goals.

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Year 3

Let’s use my 5-year goal to publish a book and work that backward. In order to actually publish a book 5 years from now, I would like to have 75% of it written by year 3? Why? That will give me plenty of time to edit, market, and engage people about the book.

Now, publishing a book is not something I’ve ever done, and that is okay. The realisticness of your goals in year 3 matter less, than that you have an idea or picture of what that future state will look like.

Having that picture in mind is important to the next step, which is creating the next year inside of the 3-year goal.

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The next year

When you start working on your goal for the next year, you are now in the realm of actually putting your theoretical goal into practice. I’m sure you’ve heard people say theory should feed practice, well, it is as true that practice should feed theory. They are inextricably linked. Always.

Now you can choose how to create your next year inside of the goal you are working on. There are many ways to put yourself to work inside of your goal. First you need to decide what your goal will look like at the end of the next year. Let’s keep using my goal of publishing a book.

What will the book look like at the end of the next year?

I would like to have 150 double-spaced pages written. Alright.

Now, to complete 150 pages by the end of next year, I will have to schedule time to get those pages written. How? First, create quarterly goals. With this particular example, I will break 150 pages into 4 parts.

My quarterly goal then is 38 pages. Now take that to monthly, which is 13 pages. Yep, now to the week. 3 pages a week. Alright, I now have a weekly goal.

And, it is a weekly goal that is connected to a quarterly goal, which is connected to a yearly goal. And, that yearly goal is connected to a 3 year goal, which is connected to the 5 year goal. Phew. Pretty cool.

Here is the system. And, you can put any goal into it, and work it backward the same way.

  1. Identify all of your goals.
  2. Pick one to work on.
  3. Set that goal out into the future and visualize what it will look like.
  4. Work backward to year 3.
  5. Set that 3 year goal.
  6. Work backward to the next year.
  7. Set that yearly goal.
  8. Work backward to each quarter.
  9. Set that quarterly goal.
  10. Work backward to each month.
  11. Set that monthly goal.
  12. Work that backward to weekly.
  13. Set that weekly goal.

You can even take it to daily goal-setting, however, in this example it is not necessary. Now, if my goal was to get that book finished in the next year, taking the goal-setting to daily would actually be very helpful.

As you create these goals and work on them, know that you are actively creating the vision of your future self. Yep. And, as you put them into practice in your life, you are actively working on and creating your future self every day. Pretty cool, and fun.

How to organize them to ensure you move them forward?

Here are some tools you can use.

  • Calendars
  • Post-it boards
  • Whiteboards
  • Day planners.

How you organize yourself matters less than creating the actions and actually holding yourself accountable to doing them every day. Use whatever organization system that works for you.

And, if what you are using now doesn’t work, change it. There are tons and tons of tools for organization. So many.

Okay, that’s creating a vision of your future self in 5 minutes. Another thing I like to do with my goals is to create a mind map. As I’ve mentioned in many other posts, I am very visual, so I love to see my goals inside of a mind map.

In case you’ve not created a mind map, here is a quick video I created that describes the process.

Alright, you now have a system to create your future self. And, when you get into it, I think you’ll find that it is quite fun. And, guess what?

When you take those daily or weekly actions to create your future self, you will find that your longer term goals are being accomplished bit-by-bit each day. Happy creating.

#creatinglongtermgoals, #creatingshorttermgoals, #creatingyourfuture, #dailyactions, #goal-setting-2, #goals, #growth, #mindmaps, #practice, #selfdevelopment, #theory, #theoryandpractice, #vision

Creating a Meditation Practice: 3 Steps in 4 Minutes

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Have you ever tried to meditate? Been through classes on meditation, yet continue to struggle to do so? You are not alone. It is too often the case that people take “meditation” classes or yoga classes, and yet struggle to have an experience they feel should be reminiscent of meditation. Sound familiar?

Well, let’s take a look at three simple steps that you can take to create the space you need to take up a practice that’s been on this planet for thousands of years. And, we will take a look at these three steps in just four minutes. Ready? Alright, let’s go.

Step 1: Quite Space

First, you must find a space that is quite, away from distractions, as much as possible. Then, let those around you know that you need this time to be alone. One of the biggest challenges in creating a meditation practice, is creating the space you need to do so. And, you are the one that needs to create this space.

You can create this space, by creating a new boundary with those closest to you. Let them know that this is your time, and is needed, and necessary. Sounds simple, yet most people have boundary issues, and may push on the boundry you are creating. Hold firm. This is your time, and you deserve it.

When I started meditating almost three years ago, the above referenced boundary issue was something that I struggled with. Yes, you also have to hold yourself accountable to create that boundary within yourself. Important. If you don’t hold to the boundary you are creating, no one else will. And, you will be continuously interrupted. What will it take?

It will take you creating that boundary over and over again. Eventually, those closest to you will get that you are serious, and leave you alone. Be persistent.

Step 2: Focus on Your Breathing

The first year of my meditation practice, I called it breathing. Why? Because I didn’t know how to breath properly. Most people don’t. That’s okay. You can learn.

Here is what my first year looked like

  • 3 to 6 months – breathing for 5 minutes at a time, several times a day.
  • 6 months to year 1 – breathing 15 minutes at a time, twice a day – once in the morning and once in the evening.

And, here is what years 2 and 3 have looked like

  • Year 1 to 18 months – meditating 20 to 30 minutes at a time, twice a day – once in the morning and once in the evening.
  • 18 months to year 2 – meditating 30 to 45 minutes at time, twice a day – once in the morning, and once in the evening.
  • Year 2 to today – meditating 45 minutes to 1 hour at a time, mostly once a day, though sometimes twice. Second time being 30 minutes in the evening.

The important thing to note, and remember, is that it’s taken almost 3 years to go from breathing for 5 minutes, to meditating for an hour most days. Slow. Creating a meditation practice is not about how fast you can do it. It’s about taking your time, yet being persistent. Building the healthy habit, slowly and methodically.

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Alright, when you are ready, here is a guide to your first 5-minute breathing exercise

  • Sit comfortably. You DO NOT have to sit in the lotus position. Actually I recommend not sitting like that. Simply sit in a sturdy chair, back straight, yet relaxed, hands resting on your thighs.
  • Set a timer, or a meditation app, if you have one for 5 minutes.
  • Close your eyes, and take a couple deep breaths, breathing in through your nose, and out through your nose. Slowly, deeply.
  • Now, breath normally, still in through your nose, and out your nose. And, as you breath in focus your attention on the air making its way through your nostrils – can you feel the cool air coming in? If not, that’s okay, then focus on the tip of your nose. If you can, focus on the air coming in through your nostrils.
  • As thoughts arsie, let them. If you begin to focus on them, that’s okay. When you begin to focus on a thought, simply bring your attention back to the air coming in through your nostrils, or back on the end of your nose.
  • And continue to repeat the above again and again. Thoughts arise, you notice, may even engage with them, then notice you are engaging, and refocus on your breath. Again, and again.

If you’ve just completed your first 5 minutes of breathing, nice job. You are on your way.

Step 3: Practice

Whether you are meditating for 5 minutes at a time, or an hour. Creating and maintaining a meditation practice, takes just that, practice. You must be willing to make meditation a priority in your life. It is like any healthy habit we want to develop; it takes persistence to build a regular habit.

The coolest thing about developing this habit, is that once you’ve done it for a couple of months, you will demand that space of yourself. Really, you will. You will hold yourself accountable to create that space; and, as you hold yourself to that standard, those closest to you, if they aren’t getting it, will.

And, the more you practice, the more benefits you will realize about incorporating meditation into your life. There are many. One of my favorite benefits, is that I have time for myself. Time to be quiet, away from all technology, and all people. We all need that time.

Practicing meditation is about learning how to focus your attention, as your mind continues to be busy. And, believe me, it will be. Yet, as we’ve discussed, let the thoughts come. It’s okay. And, as they come, notice when you are paying attention to them, instead of your breathing, and then refocus your attention on your breath.

Remember, creating a meditative practice takes time. Building this practice is not something that will happen overnight. It won’t, so relieve yourself of that pressure right now; and when you are ready, find a quiet space, focus on your breathing, and practice.

#attention, #breathing, #focus, #health-benefits, #meditation, #mindfulness, #persistence, #practice, #wellness