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Is Your Language All Wrong?

Updated: Feb 13, 2022

I was reading a blog post from another coach today, about setting intentions. We'll come to that later, but it made me think about the words we use, and what power words have in them.

Take, for example, the following words:

  • expectation

  • desire

  • goal

  • result

  • intention

How do those words make you feel? Does "expectation" make you feel constricted? Is it full of criticism, or of determination? What about "desire"? Does it fill you with unreciprocated longing, or something to which you can aspire? Does "goal" feel close or far away? Does "result" sound like a KPI? Does 'intention" sound a bit airy-fairy, or like there's something coming after it (like a bit of work)?

The fact is, coaches use all kinds of words to engage clients in being ready to change, making decisions, and taking action. What's important, is to use the words that feel right for each individual client (or participant, as I'd prefer; because you participate in the coaching, by doing those three things - becoming ready, deciding, and acting).

Sometimes, the words people choose to use are just habitual, and those words can be full of judgement, rebuke and self-criticism. Or, they can just be thoughtless (as in, "without thought"; that is, habitual).

For example, when someone asks, "How are you?", what do you answer?

  • I'm fine

  • Not bad

  • Could be better

If your response is a habit, why don't you stop to think about your answer, before saying the usual same thing? Sure, I often respond, "I'm fine 'n' dandy!", because that's how I feel, normally.

I feel pretty good most of the time. When I don't, a tell a friend or family member what's going on and how it affects me. Their kind care, in allowing me to just talk, helps me through those harder times.

There is plenty of research that shows that talking about hard times and even traumas, can help you to release the emotional intensity of your feelings and feel more resilient.

But in the longer term, if you keep talking about the trauma (to the exclusion of other topics), then you are trapped by obsession, and need a way to get off your rumination hamster-wheel.

But, here's the thing: the words you use can influence how you feel. Imagine the impact of the following verbs:

  • I try

  • I will

  • I fail

  • I can

  • I can't

  • I am

I happen to think that verbs are some of the most powerful words of all, because they are active. Words engage the speech production and speech perception areas of your brain, and the types of words will trigger other parts as well (for example, fearful words are fearful stimuli, and will activate your pair of amygdali, and action words will activate the brain's motor cortex).

So, that means that action words (verbs) utilise more parts of your brain, and enable greater ability to train your brain. If you want to train your brain to think good things and have great ideas, you use positive action words.

Use words like:

  • I am

  • I can

Feel free to throw in some positive adverbs as well:

  • I totally am

  • I definitely can

I remember telling someone about a crush I had on a person who was not interested in me. The person listening to me, said, "You can't" and "You shouldn't", and those words were disempowering to me. She was trying to discourage me from doing something that she thought might embarrass me (which I had no intention of doing for that very reason), but she could have articulated it in a more empowering way.

She could have asked me a question, instead of shutting down an option. She could have asked me, "Are you thinking about ..?" or "What do you think of ...?" Asking questions like that, would have shown me that I was respected as a person who could make my own decisions. It would have been empowering and affirming.

What do you think of affirmations?

There are many (and I mean many!!!) people out there who swear by affirmations. Whether they work or not, to manifest the desired result, is not my point here. What I'm interested in, are the words in affirmations. They're often written by someone who has been through some hard times and come out the other end, with a hope to inspire others experiencing something similar. They write what resonates for themselves, but the people who practise the affirmations choose what feels right for them too.

Quite a few oracle card decks include guide books with affirmations in them. For example, there's this from Archangel Michael’s Sword & Shield Oracle, by Michelle Newten:

"I allow the Universe to bring me to the right place at the right time to accept the consequential gifts or revelations."

Notice how different this is, to the following alternatives:

  • I need to be lucky

  • I never seem to be in the right place at the right time for good things to happen

  • I wish I knew what to do

  • Why bother leaving the house, when I know that nothing will ever happen?

Now, I'm not saying that Michelle Newten's affirmation is perfect, but you can see how it's way better than the things we sometimes tell ourselves. We often play the victim. We even allow the negative thoughts in our minds to take over and bully us. Affirmations are a nice alternative ...

But, they can be a bit passive!

You know the name of my business is "The Centre of Serendipity" - because serendipity is where hard work and opportunity collide; it's where the impact is felt. Serendipity is not passive!!! Serendipity is not luck ... At the very least, you have to make some movement to get to your opportunity.

Now, I mentioned intention setting at the start, and I promised to describe that in a bit more detail. I described how to set intentions in a previous post, but (briefly), here's what you do:

  1. Write on a card, an affirmation in the present tense, as though it's written by a happier and more fulfilled version of yourself (your future self);

  2. On the other side of the card, write questions that ask how to bring your affirmation into your reality.

For example, let's imagine you want true love, romantic bliss and a grand passion - with another human!

On the affirmation side of the card, write something along the following lines:

  • I'm so happy that -

  • I have true love;

  • I give and receive unconditional love that is shared freely;

  • I enjoy love that is romantic, passionate and blissful;

  • because of the effort I invested in looking for true and lasting love, and the commitment I made to making love real.

Note that your affirmation begins with the feeling. Your future self is happy. Note, also, that the affirmation is in present tense, as though your wish has already been granted, or your prayer has already been answered.

Note, as well, that there are actions - you have, give, receive, share, enjoy, invest, look, commit and make. There's a lot of activity involved in making love real!!!

Now, note the word "because". This is no passive affirmation. This is actually a statement of cause and effect!

Still with the same example, turn the card over to write your action questions. Your action questions are about making it become a reality and then making your new reality a long-term improvement. So, think about the words you might use in questions.

Write something like the following:

  • How can I demonstrate my commitment to making love real?

  • What actions can I take to continue to invest effort in looking for true and lasting love?

  • How can I continue to be so happy that I have true love?

  • How many more ways can I give and receive unconditional love that is shared freely?

  • What can I do, to continue to enjoy love that is romantic, passionate and blissful?

Note the words at the start - they are about manifesting through action.

Without the actions, intention setting is just dreaming.

The thing with intention setting, is not to write and forget about it. You don't have to make your intention cards as wordy as my examples - I've given you a variety, so you get the picture. But what do you do with your card?

You fold your card in half, so your question(s) side is on the outside, and you place the card in your pocket (or bra), preferably near your heart. Take out the card and read it's contents five times a day for at least a month - your statement of cause and effect first, then your question(s). Try to read out loud, as much as you can.

Why? So that you prioritise what you want!!

There's another part to the process, and that's the effect your questions have on your brain. Remember how I said that action words use multiple parts of your brain? Active questions like those above, will activate even more, creating and strengthening the pathways between them (a really good thing). That's because your brain will try to answer the questions while you sleep.

Why?? Because your brain is designed, hard-wired even, to fill in the blanks.

When you sleep, the open loops created by your questions will trigger your brain into finding solutions.

You could wake up with fresh ideas, so write them down before you forget them, and act on the ideas that feel like good things to try.

Remember to go easy on yourself. Please try to use positive, active statements throughout your day. When you do something, positively reinforce your action by saying aloud, "Done!" As you do more, say aloud, "Well done!", or "Very well done!" Include the exclamation marks too, so that your positive reinforcement statements are emphatic.

If you are trying to break a disempowering habit, and you swap it out for something more empowering (e.g., sweets out, carrot stick with a little peanut butter in), do the same - positively reinforce your efforts with empowering statements of self-affirmation, "Fabulously done!!"

Soon, you will feel empowered enough to try anything on your bucket list. And if you need to, you can always book in for a FREE Strategy Session with me, to start with.

Toots-McGoot for now!! (That's MC-speak for see ya later!). Promise me that you'll have some fun this week, and let me know how you go!!

PS: Some presents, from fellow Novocastrians on #TheVoiceAU - Ty and Eddie (so that's where my favourite hat went!!). I knew that Ty could bring it (having been to the odd gig), but his kid is a firecracker on stage, and only 11!

Look for the scissor jump ...

I've loved all these songs by the originals, but Ty and Eddie just made them better!

And, not them, but I liked just the same ... keep playing for more, too!!


All you need to do, to book in for your first coaching session, is choose! You probably know at least 3-4 people, who have come to mind while you've read this post. Why not buy them a gift certificate for their birthday? It doesn't matter where they are, because coaching is actually best when delivered over the phone. And there's the absolutely fantastic 8-Week Breakthrough Results Program, if you are really committed to living your most authentic life.

Just ask yourself, "Do I want every aspect of my life to be a 10/10?" Well, it's never too late (unless my diary is full).

Now, maybe you need some other tools - such as books, meditations, meditation school, a tarot and oracle card reading, or to consider what kinds of strategies you need in your life (Ahem. I am Certified Results Coach, and you can book a free strategy session over the phone, anywhere in the world).


Feel free to like, comment, and share ...

Please remember, if you like what I have to say, please feel free to purchase books and meditations, and to leave a comment! Two happy reviews on Amazon and other online retailers earn subscribers a 50% discount on their next book (if both are purchased from this website).


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