Language and Suggestion: Take back your Power
I haven’t always loved language. In fact, I distinctly remember the minus sign perched aside my expected ‘A’ in advanced English class; my first falter from expected perfection. I had to explain to my father that my teacher, Mrs. Becker, was assigning ‘busy work’ that I refused to do. It was true, I had broken my usual agreeable self to tell my teacher that her assignments were ‘petty.’ Looking back, I was a stuck-up student who did not understand her lesson. She had required we sift through actual newspaper articles to find certain words and then cut, paste, define, and use the word in a sentence. She additionally required we create a binder and organize the words, thus assembling a completed “Panther Profile of Panther Words” folder, which I completely thought was ridiculous. At the time, I was balancing school, a job at the pizza place downtown, coaching Pop Warner sports, and playing on two sports teams myself! I didn’t have time for cutting and pasting! I refused the project and took a zero for the grade. In truth, I had done the stupid binder, but I wanted to make a point. I was and still am, quite dramatic.
Her lesson? I don’t remember half of my lessons through school, but I remember Mrs. Becker and that binder of ‘Panther words.’ I even remember the specific list of words and their meanings. I perk up in conversation with a blast of fun memories when someone uses a ‘Panther word.’ Learning is a process that happens both deliberately and subconsciously, but the processes are very similar. One of the key ingredients is repetition. “Practice, practice, practice,” or “Practice makes perfect,” still rings in my head as I almost laugh at its simplicity. It took earning a graduate degree in advanced psychology and cognitive processes for me to appreciate Mrs. Becker’s simple lesson. Repeat, write, observe, record, recall, and those simple processes of our mind can be trained and wired to meet and exceed amazing accomplishments. Understanding this process and being aware of its presence in your world gives you profound control and power over your daily life. It might seem simple, but again, it all breaks down to language. Insert the ironic love obsession I have with linguistics.
If I tell you ‘do not think of the color blue,’ you simple cannot help but think of it. Blue pops into your mind’s eye, because I have just inserted it there. You must think of something simply through language recognition and the mind records the words and thoughts that are inserted. The intent, as usual, is magical and subjective. If every day while meditating, you tell yourself to, ‘not sweat the small stuff,’ or ‘don’t worry,’ you’re actually doing the opposite. You’re inserting words such as WORRY and SWEAT THE SMALL STUFF into your subconscious mind. Instead, understand how intention and language can work with your goals. If you hope to lose weight, replace your language with ‘gain a healthy lifestyle,’ or ‘earn confidence’ so that you are inserting positive messages into the intent of your actual goal. If you want to coach or parent yourself and others in this helpful practice, consider the phrase, ‘don’t be late anymore’ and replace it with language that positively voices the intent of your goal, such as, ‘Please be on time from now on.’ Your mind creates associations, the repetition records a pathway and our memory recall goes to those pillars first. You can create the habits, associations, and the thoughts that are ‘go-to’ thoughts simply by rephrasing your choice of language.
Embedded commands, music, positive body language, anchors, even tone and pacing of the voice can all enhance or deter the power of suggestion. If you encourage someone to feel better, but your tone and body language convey otherwise, that person associates the connotation with you and your message. There is power in delivery. Therefore, even when you’re at home, meditating alone, it is important to smile or even ‘trick the mind’ with a positive tone to create the response you desire. It seems silly, fluffy or even ridiculous, but the simple act of self-affirmation (affirmation if you want to get language crazy) are all powerful tools to sharpen the mind. When we are constantly bombarded by media, social media streams, negative banners or news reports, we are recording and creating a phenomenon that we know is real: the power of suggestion. Take back control by observing the language you use. Additionally, monitor the language of those who speak to you, as well as how they speak to you. What is their source, their platform, or their delivery and how does their message affect you? How do you respond and what is your intention? Most importantly, listen to yourself. The words you say in private are subconsciously being planted in your mind and through repetition will eventually seep out as behaviors. Make change by modifying how you suggest power to yourself through language.
I also need to be careful how I talk to myself
I enjoyed your lesson
Judy, Thank you for reading and for absorbing – that connection is what the writer/reader relationship is all about. I’m still working on how I talk to others and myself but knowing the power is half the battle. 🙂