Following on How Language Can Shape our Lives

In a previous blog, I summarized an article describing a recent Harvard study that indicates using different languages seems to create different preferences or opinions about others, thus raising the question of whether language actually shapes and creates our thoughts.

Now, in November's issue of Psychology Today, therapist Vikki Stark provides a thoughtful anecdote on how one client's recurring description of various everyday events in her life as "hell" seemed to actually be a sort of self-fulfilling pattern. The more her client described her life as hell, the more it felt like it was: thus, her choice of terminology both served to create her thoughts, feelings, and experience and reinforced them.

By encouraging her client to notice pattern and modify her use of the term "hell" for different and more descriptive phrases, Ms. Stark helped her client to generate more nuance which seemed to empower her, making her feel more hopeful and in control. Ms. Stark also notes that when she caught her own self saying "I'm soooo depressed," (something we can all probably relate to on some level), but realized it felt less overwhelming to change that statement out for something like, "I'm feeling blue." More and more, we can realize it may benefit each of us to really pay attention to the words we use and create more positive and empowering terms to create our lives from day to day, minute to minute.

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Comment by Bonnie Bright on November 7, 2010 at 3:05pm
language, create, terminology, attitude, psychology today

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