Limiting Words


limitingWordsOur world is full of words. They come from the media, from those around us, and from ourselves. Reality is not defined or constrained by words, but I believe that for many people, their definitions of themselves are limited to the words they use, consciously or not, to describe themselves, and the words they use to describe everything “not-me”.

The set of words with which you define yourself or a situation can, if you’re not careful and aware of the fact, build a clique, an exclusive club, which will tend to keep new words out.

Limiting the words you use to describe yourself and your condition in turn limits how you will act and what you think you can do. You may constantly think, “I hate x”, “I can do y”, etc., but if you look closely at these things, in many cases it turns out that you don’t really hate x, and you could actually do more than just y. You may be bored, frustrated, or concerned, among other things, regarding x. You may be able to do y, but if you broaden your view you might see you can do more than just that. It’s easy for us to put labels on things too quickly or automatically and those labels are often far too simplistic.

Being lulled into the rut dug by self-limiting words, we unwittingly limit the responses we might take and those responses may not truly be fitting or optimal for the situation. We may be short-changing ourselves, often and in many areas of our lives.

So, what are you to do? It takes a serious effort of introspection to get past boundaries you’ve  placed around yourself, because often you don’t even know you’ve put them there. Try to become aware of your inner monologue, especially things you repeat often. For instance, are you dissatisfied with your job? Are you constantly muttering to yourself, “I hate my job, I hate my job”? Intercept those words and give them some critical thought. Is a better description of what you feel maybe a case of not having enough creative input, or do you feel under-appreciated or under-utilized? What’s the exact  issue? When you simply say you hate something, pretty much all you can do is stew in your own juices and build more and more negativity towards the problem.  If you can get past that limiting word, “hate”, more avenues of awareness may open in front of you, offering you a broader range of opportunities and possible ways to remove that roadblock.

Is “I’m stupid” really “I don’t understand [insert what you don’t understand here]”?

Is “I can’t do that” really “I failed at that once and I’m afraid to try again”?

Listen carefully to the words you use internally. If you find them to be inaccurate or untrue, you may have just knocked down some boundaries and you might be heading out into new and better territory.

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