Language Matters: A Three-Step Approach to Happiness and Peace

women thinking on beach

Language matters. And lately, my language hasn’t been exactly up-lifting. As the co-founder of a corporate training and coaching company and mother of three teenagers, I’ve been pretty negative.

Someone recently asked me: “How are you doing?” and I said:

“It’s brutal. A deluge of housework and professional damage control.”

This language or “story” about my circumstances was shaping how I felt: sort of depressed and resentful. It was also shaping  how my family and team felt. I was bringing everyone down! I spent time collecting evidence for my story and feeling righteous. Every load of laundry, meal cooked and client cancelation made my story more true.

What is Confirmation Bias?

Confirmation bias is a well-known human behavior: we look for information that supports our beliefs and we ignore or reject information that casts doubt on them.  And yet, as right as I felt, I knew telling this story had a significant cost to me. I woke up feeling unmotivated and resentful….I was short tempered with my family and colleagues… and I went to bed feeling bad about how I was showing up each day.  By Sunday, I knew I couldn’t keep going like this and made the decision to choose a new story:

“This crisis will make our family and our business stronger than ever.”

I am now looking for evidence to support this new story-  and I am finding it! We see what we look for. My husband and kids are now cleaning and cooking and we are getting unprecedented time together.  Our company is developing virtual workshops which will be a valuable offering to our clients and forcing us to innovate as never before. I am making a meaningful difference for my coaching clients dealing with uncertainty and fear.  I am very connected with my east coast family because everyone is available. I am reading.

Here is Fast Forward’s 3 step approach to choosing a new story:

  1. What is your negative story?
  2. What is the cost of saying/believing your story?
  3. What is another story you can choose?

During this challenging time, you have zero control over many of your circumstances.  But you always have control – and can choose- your language and the story you tell yourself and others.

Here are some examples that might resonate with you:

Old Story  >>

New Story

I’m going to lose my job.  >>
I will demonstrate my creativity and grit.
This year will be a bloodbath. >>
This crisis will make us stronger.
I am going to get sick.  >>
I am going to get healthier than ever – physically and mentally.
Home schooling is brutal.  >>
I’m proud of how I’m teaching my children.
Life will never be the same.  >>
The world is changing for the better.

If you have been telling yourself a negative story, what’s a new one you could choose today? Consider paying it forward and share in the comments. Your story could be the language that creates a new reality for someone else.