This is the first concept I hit when I with with any mentee, or class or workshop. I use this in business when I'm training on marketing principles, interpersonally when I'm talking about how to communicate, and intra
personally when I'm helping someone change their thoughts.
See, language forms the basis of thought.
CHALLENGE: Think a thought, but don't use language to think it.
Yeah, not happening. We can feel things. We can sense things. But the moment we begin to create cognitive engagement in the mind it's in a language. The moment we go to share it with others, it's in a language. The key take away then, is that language is everything.
Every action you've taken, which is the culmination of some thought, had its beginning in language. That language plays a huge role in dictating many aspects of the action. The impact of language choice can be subtle or dramatic, but it's always there.
For example, when speaking Spanish, you might want to express they you're scared or hungry. You would say, "Tengo miedo," for "I'm scared," and you would say, "Tengo hambre," for "I'm hungry."
In English we say, "I AM"
But in Spanish it literally translates, "I HAVE."
The difference can seem subtle. But the difference is huge. I am not those things. They do not make up my identity. I am not depressed and I am not depression. I am not hungry, nor am I hunger. I am me.
If you really want to illustrate this wait for one of those dad joke moments. My daughter says, "Dad, I'm thirsty." Then I say, "Hi, I'm Friday. Let's go to Saturday and have a Sunday!" And then I get, "Daaaaaaad!"
On some level we are aware of this is but when we need this awareness, it often escapes us. Namely, in the mental health areas of our lives. I am not sad. I am not happy. I am not depressed or upset or confused etc. It's a kind of flaw in an our phrasing. We could easily say something different, and doing so leads us to a completely different thought process. But we get trapped in this lazy language.
I have sadness when...
I have happiness when...
I have depressing moments when...
I don't mean to paint an overly easy caricature, but it's like saying, "I have a sandwich. I have a phone. I have a notebook." All of these things that I have, that I possess, I can dispossess myself of them.
Following that language, if I possess sadness when X happens. It inherently leads me towards a path in which I can dispossess myself of sadness. I can start to peel back and understand more about when X happens and make attempts toward changing it. If I describe the inherent characteristics of myself as, "I am sad," then I place myself in a room with no doors. There's no way out. I cannot stop being me, and I have just declares that I am sadness. So now I am stuck.
Language has immense power, and often it goes truly untapped because we are unaware of just how much power we possess with language. The less awareness we have over this impact of language, the less control at have on the quality of our lives. The more keen we can be on the subtle but potent differences, the better we can impact our thoughts, actions, behaviors, patterns and lives. And it all starts with language.