Language and the Brain
Empowering Language

Replacing disempowering language with empowering language can transform our perspective.  We can shift how we hold things, even if circumstances remain the same.  That shift can move us to a place of empowerment.  It's part of recognizing that we are always at choice.

How often can you replace… …with empowering language?
I should; I ought to I will; I choose to
I need to It's important to me to
I have to I choose to; I want to
I can't I am not willing to
I'll try to I will; I intend to; I aim to; I commit to
I should have [done] Next time I can; Next time I will
but and
I am just; I am only I am
You know; like [nothing needed]
kind of; sort of [nothing needed]
I would like to say/acknowledge/do [just make the statement; these prefaces diminish it]
Value In Replacing Disempowering With Empowering Language

Language, as our expression of thoughts and feelings, has the power to transform.  It's inextricably linked to our view of reality.  The Power To TransformBy changing our language, we can affect our view of reality, which is, in effect, our reality.  I've observed significant energy shifts as clients replace disempowering language with empowering language.

This means that, just by changing our language, we can move from playing the victim to having choices, from feeling powerless to being in control of our life, from fear to love.  And we can move into action:

  • "I really want to…" → "I will…"
  • "I have to…" → "I choose to…"

Personally, I have replaced most uses of "but" with "and".  I picked this because, when I read the empowering language table above, it was the entry most charged for me!  My initial reaction was, "'But' is a perfectly good and useful word.  Why should I replace it!?!" 

Holding Space For Both

The word "but" separates two clauses representing things that are in some way in opposition.  The implication is often that one or the other must be chosen, or one or the other is true.  The word "and" just conjoins two things in a list, with a sense of inclusivity.  Technically, the word "but" expresses more information about the relationship of the things being described, AND using an inclusive conjunction ("and") serves better to hold space for both, expanding the possibilities as I'm considering the issue.

"I" Statements

Another important piece of using empowering language is using "I" statements.  These are claims a person makes about themselves using the pronoun "I" rather than "you".

For example, imagine I said, "You know how you sometimes don't want to get up in the morning?  Having the aroma of freshly brewed coffee reach your nose can really help!"  Clean CommunicationI am, in fact, telling you something about myself: "Sometimes I just don't want to get up in the morning.  Having the aroma of freshly brewed coffee reach my nose can really help!"  Expressed using "you" and "your", I'm implying that you should agree.  However, you may never have trouble getting up in the morning, or you may not even like the aroma of coffee.  Rather than assuming these things and telling you what will help you, it's much cleaner if I just claim what is true for me.  Then, if you notice that resonates with you, you can offer your agreement.

The value in using "I" statements is ownership.  When I use "I" statements I am owning what I say as my view or reality.  I am not projecting it onto "you".  This facilitates my separating my issues from your issues so that I can deal with mine and don't have to take responsibility for dealing with or responding to yours.  That's a win for me.  How about for you?

Seize Truth
Dan Craft
San Francisco Bay Area