The Words We Say Do Make a Difference

When our son was a toddler, we tried to teach him how to eat, where he could go in the house, what he could touch. 

If you’re a parent, you know that age when they’re into everything–you can never relax!

We said things like:

  • Don’t throw your food on the floor
  • Don’t go up those stairs
  • Don’t touch that vase

Guess what he did? You got it! He threw his food…went up the stairs…and touched the vase! 

After seeing that this approach was not working, we realized that everything we said focused on what he couldn’t do, instead of speaking positively and telling him what we wanted him to do

Changing Tactics

I had listened to an audio program called The Psychology of Winning by Dennis Waitley. It encouraged focusing only on the desired actions or outcome to get the brain to focus. 

So in other words, when conveying teaching or instructions, communicate only what TO DO and our brains will deliver. 

Humm…. I thought we had a little test lab with our son, so we decided to try it. 

We started saying everything (at least tried) in terms of what we wanted him TO DO and didn’t even mention the negative.

  • Keep your food on your tray
  • Stay in the living room
  • Keep your hands to down

It was amazing the results we got when we remembered to do this. I say “remembered” because it always comes back to you and to me. We have to change our behavior in order to get different results. 

Don’t get me wrong, we still couldn’t completely relax, but life got a lot easier.

Positive or Negative Words

Does this ever happen to you? 

We all speak in a negative way to a certain extent to our significant others, children, parents, co-workers–and we don’t even realize it.  

You never help me. Don’t run in the house. You can’t do it that way…don’t, don’t, don’t, can’t, can’t, can’t…. 

As opposed to:  I appreciate your taking out the garbage. Please walk when you are in the house. Here is how you do it.

Many times we use that negative verbiage with others and  don’t even realize it at a conscious level either. And those who we are speaking to  respond by tuning us out or getting angry…but hey, who can blame them? 

We have all had someone speak to us that way and had the same reaction.

What to Do about It?

When you notice that negative terminology entering your mind or slipping off your tongue with others or even with yourself, stop and think or say the opposite. 

Try it and, hopefully, it’ll become more of a habit. 

It’s not easy to change how we speak or think, and usually our comments are reactive but at least it’s worth a shot. 

It’s those subtle changes we strive to make that ultimately add up and improve our life, even if it’s just a little at a time.

Just think: if we all changed our language to speak positive and focus our words on what we want, how much better off would we all be?

2 thoughts on “The Power of Positive Talk

  1. Christine – this is so very true and so easily forgotten in the day to day. Thank you for the reminder to think and respond positively!!

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