In Oklahoma we say we’re “fixin'” to go to the store. I was raised in Kansas and “Bless your heart” meant compassion, but I recently realized that’s an insult in some places. My husband calls macaroni and cheese “cheese noodles” so my children have been raised with that. The words and phrases we use are a combination of our childhood, where we live and our habits. Yes, we speak largely from habit. And it’s time to think about what not to say.
I had an ah-ha moment a few days ago. It was about a phrase I use constantly, all day, every day. I didn’t realize how ingrained this phrase was in my vocabulary, nor what it represented and how it affected me until a coach pointed it out. So now I’m on a mission to retrain my brain and mouth and refrain from speaking this phrase.
My personal assignment? To stop saying “I need.” Saying “I need to answer those emails” and “I need to clean off my desk” implies that I’m not doing enough, I’m not enough and I’m behind. That language creates stress because it adds another item to my mental to-do list. “I need” is needy and powerless. And I didn’t realize how often I say it throughout the day.
This assignment will take some re-framing of perspective. Instead of “need” language, the focus will be on the benefits of the thing I will do. So instead of “I need to make a video for my team Facebook group,” it will be “I really want to encourage and teach my team, so I’ll make a video just for them.” See how that changes the motivation? “I need” creates stress and overwhelm of more to do. “I want to encourage and teach” creates excitement and creativity and a want-to.
You might not ever say “I need to ____.” But I bet you are using other language that is not serving you well. Maybe it did at one time, but you’ve grown and changed and it no longer serves you. Maybe you’re saying things like “I hate” or “I always” or “I never.” Those sweeping generalizations aren’t true, are they?
Let’s try this: Be honest with yourself and choose one phrase or word that is not helpful to you. Decide what new words or thought process will replace it. Then turn up the volume and listen to yourself throughout the day. Try it today. Then again tomorrow. You may find this spilling over into other words and thoughts, in a good way.
For now, choose just one. No major overhaul. You’ll have your hands full with just one habit of speech. Make it a game—no fair shaming yourself when you slip. Your children will be happy to point out your slips of tongue, so you may (or may not) want to include them in the game. You might be surprised at how life-changing this could be. It’s already changing mine.
Do you say “I need to ____?” Or something else that is not serving you well? How will you replace those words and thought patterns?