Self-Sabotaging Words to Reframe

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People rarely succeed if they expect failure.

In addition to teaching my clients how to hypnotize themselves to expect success and take action accordingly, I also address how they might be unknowingly hypnotizing themselves to fail in the stock phrases they might use over and over again to describe their situation, goals, or obstacles.

There are seven what I like to call, “self-sabotaging words” which you can use as red flags or as wake up calls to interrupt your unproductive, self-sabotaging language patterns and reframe your self-talk to build greater expectation of success.

The first on the hit list of words to reframe you’ve probably already heard about, thank you George Lucas, is the word, “try”.

As Yoda says, “there is no try, there is only doing or not doing”, and he’s right. “Try” lets the subconscious part of you know it’s OK to fail.

What happens when that friend says, “I’ll try to call you next week.” Do they call? Usually not. “Try” let them off the hook. What they are really saying is that they’d like to call, but probably won’t.

So the next time you catch yourself saying that you are going to “try to be on time”. Stop for a moment and affirm to yourself, partner, or your boss that “you ARE going to be on time!”

Second on the reframe hit list is the word, “hope”.

As the saying goes, “hope is not a strategy”. Hoping, wishing, and praying the phone is going to ring is not going to make it ring. You are just waiting for divine intervention.

At some point you have to get out and advertise. Again, use more active language to describe your goal. Stop saying “I hope this works”, and switch to “Let’s make this work!”

The third self-sabotaging word to reframe is the word “always”.

If you describe yourself as having “always been a light sleeper”, then you are expecting to be a light sleeper in the future, because always is always, past, present AND future.

Better to say that “in the past you have been a light sleeper” and keep the future open for change.

“Why do I always do that?” isn’t going to get you anywhere.

Now that’s different from “No matter how I feel, I always feel better after exercising”, that’s totally acceptable! That’s a keeper.

Just be careful with the word “always” when describing a behavior you intend to change.

Fourth word to reframe is the word, “never”.

If you’re saying to the coach, “Coach, we’re never going to win”, then there’s no sense you would put the effort into playing your best, and so you are going to be sitting out the game on the bench.

If you take the opportunity to play your best, people notice, and that could open doors later.

Understandably, it may certainly sometimes feel like your injury or illness is never going to get better. Repeatedly describing your injury that way will only make it seem worse, especially if you are facing an uphill battle rehabilitating from a health crisis.

You will only start to feel better or play better by staying in the game and focusing on how everyday you are getting better and better!

“Can’t” is the fifth word you can use as a wake up call that a different strategy is needed.

“I can’t do this”, is fine for setting boundaries and limits with others when appropriate, not for giving up when you meet resistance working toward your goal.

Each time you use “can’t” another block is added to big stone wall.

If you hit the wall a few times it obviously hurts and overwhelming resistance just indicates that a new strategy or direction is needed.

Luckily, you are hardwired to resist pain, which hopefully will buy you some time to use your brain to scale that rock wall first in your mind before starting your next climb.

“I can do this” is more likely going to inspire you to devote the energy, use your creative imagination, and picture how you want your life to be different on the other side of that wall.

So reframing “something you can’t do” into “something you are having difficulty with”, is one way to leave the door open for something different to happen and buys the creative subconscious part of you more time to problem-solve and strategize.

The sixth word is “tomorrow”, which is problematic, because tomorrow is not a day of the week. It never arrives.

So if you didn’t have time to go running this morning, I suggest you move your running shoes closer to the door and say, “this will help me remember to go running on Sunday morning at 8am”. Then it’s in your mental calendar and more likely to happen.

Last on the word hit list is the word, “but”.

“But” negates all that comes prior in the sentence. Do you want to hear, “You’re a great employee, but here’s a pink slip, sorry, we have to lay you off.”

Are you going to feel like a great employee? Probably not. You want to hear, “You’re a great employee, and here’s a raise.”

If you say, “I really want to do this, but I don’t feel like it”. What are you stuck with? I don’t feel like it.

“And” connects the two sides of the sentence, which might come into play if the first part of the sentence is supposed to be motivational. “And” is also a great meditation tool; it keeps both parties at the negotiating table.

Saying, “I really want to do this, and today is a struggle”, is likely to have more meaning if you can own the feeling in the first part of that sentence, since feelings motivate.

“Honey, I love you, and we need to work on our communication”, is more likely to keep love in the equation, simply because you took the time to include it with “and” instead of playing lip service to the word.

Choose one self-sabotaging word to reframe at a time, maybe the one you catch yourself using the most. If you need reminding, write your word on your hand or ask a friend to inform you in a respectful and tactful manner when you have used the self-sabotaging word, so you can reframe your language and expectation to work for you, not against you.

Your inner dialog, your expectations, and how you describe yourself or your process to others adds up. The content of your self-talk will determine if you become your own best friend or worst enemy. Pay attention to the words you use to describe your situation, goals or obstacles, make an effort to reframe negative self-talk, and you will be surprised to discover new inner resources you thought you lacked!


write by Raj Singh

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