3 Big Swear Words
Think of the three worst swear words you have ever heard………. What did you come up with?
Now, see if you can identify the swear words in the following sentences: I never do anything right. Everybody hates me. You always ridicule me.
There are many ways that we color our perception of the world. Amazingly, with a few simple words we can either create feelings of hope and optimism, or misery and despair. I remember being on break at work one day when a co-worker came up to me and started talking about all the shortcomings of our company and the people he works with. After politely listening to him speak for a moment I said, “You sure seem to know what you hate.”
One night, after a frustrating day at school, my daughter came home and starting telling me all the bad things that had happened to her. Many of her observations included words like: always, never and everybody. Obviously she was feeling frustrated but it is interesting how a few simple words skewed her view. By describing her situation in terms of everyone and everything, she magnified a single incidence into a universal perception.
As you can probably guess, the three big swear words in the sentences above are: always, never and everybody. Why? Because they have such incredible power to affect the way we see things. When someone takes a single occurrence and then applies that incident to all people and all circumstances they risk creating a perception that can paint the world pessimistically or narcissistically.
My children will tell you that when we are talking and they use words like always, never and everybody I will stop the conversation and politely confront their statement, “Do you really believe that everybody hates you?” Though this sometimes irritates them, in the end it has taught them to choose their words more appropriately when they are describing their feelings and circumstances. “As we hear our self speak so we believe”
In therapy, understanding a client’s cognitive processing is critical. Often a counselor will listen to the words a person uses to describe their environment and struggles to determine if their perception of reality is reasonable. People can also do this for themselves. Listen closely to the words you use to describe your struggles and successes. Are you adding to your burdens and your triumphs in an unhealthy way? If you are using words like everybody, never and always you probably are. I am amazed how our words can convince us and others of things that don’t really exist. Train yourself to use words that will help you accurately describe your circumstances as well as create a healthy and optimistic outlook.