Read the first part at The Gift of Language- I
To demonstrate the impact of your vocabulary on the intensity of your life- experience, I’d like to share a passage from Anthony Robbin’s Awaken The Giant Within. The passage is very illuminating on how you may lighten up the negative quotient of an event merely by the words you choose to describe your feelings about it. it works as effectively for positive vibes too, of course. Here it is:
For years I’ve believed that I can handle anything if I’m angry, but 1 also believe that I don’t have to be angry to do so. I can be equally effective in a peak state of happiness. As a result, I don’t avoid anger—I use it if I get in that state—nor do I pursue it, since I can access my strength without being “furious.” What really interested me was the difference in the words that we all used to describe this experience. I had used the words “angry” and “upset”, my CEO had used the words “furious” and “enraged”, and my friend had said that he was “a bit annoyed” by the experience. I couldn’t believe it!
I turned to him and said, “That’s all you feel, just a little bit annoyed? You must get really angry or upset some of the time.” He said, “Not really. It takes a lot to make that happen, and it almost never occurs.” I asked him, “Do you remember the time the IRS took a quarter- of a million dollars of your money, and it was their mistake? Didn’t it take you two and a half years to get the money back? Didn’t that make you unbelievably angry?” My CEO chimed in, “Didn’t that make you LIVID?”
He said, “No, it didn’t upset me. Maybe I was a little bit peeved.”
I thought this was the stupidest word I’d ever heard! I would never have used a word like that to describe my emotional intensity. How could this wealthy and successful businessman go around using a word like “peeved” and still keep a straight face? The answer is, he didn’t keep a straight face! He seemed almost to enjoy talking about things that would have driven me crazy.
I began to wonder, “If I did use that word to describe my emotions, how would I begin to feel? Would I find myself smiling where I used to be stressed? Hmmm,” I thought, “maybe this warrants some looking into.” For days after that, I continued to be intrigued by the idea of using my friend’s language patterns and seeing what it would do to my emotional intensity.
What might happen if, when I was feeling really angry, I could turn to somebody and say, “This really peeves me!”? Just the thought of it made me laugh—it was so ridiculous. For fun, I decided to give it a shot.
I got my first opportunity to use it after a long night flight when I arrived at my hotel. Because one of my staff had neglected to handle the check-in for me, I had the privilege of standing at the front desk for an extra fifteen or twenty minutes, physically exhausted and at my emotional threshold. The clerk dragged himself to the check-in counter and began to hunt-and-peck my name into the computer at a pace that would make a snail impatient.
I felt “a bit of anger” welling up inside of me, so I turned to the clerk and said, “You know, I know this isn’t your fault, but right now I’m exhausted and I need to get to my room quickly because the longer I stand here the more I fear I will become a bit PEEVED.”
The clerk glanced up at me with a somewhat perplexed look, and then broke a smile. I smiled back; my pattern was broken. The emotional volcano that had been building up inside of me instantly cooled, and then two things happened. I actually enjoyed visiting for a few moments with the clerk, and he sped up.
Could just putting a new label on my sensations be enough to break my pattern and truly change my experience? Could it really be that easy? What a concept! Over the next week, I tried my new word over and over again. In each case, I found that saying it had the impact of immediately lowering my emotional intensity. Sometimes it made me laugh, but at the very minimum it stopped the momentum of being upset from rushing me into a state of anger.
Within two weeks, I didn’t even have to work on using the word: it became habitual. It became my first choice in describing my emotions, and I found myself no longer getting in these extremely angry states at all. I became more and more fascinated with this tool that I’d stumbled across. I realized that by changing my habitual vocabulary, I was transforming my experience; I was using what I would later call “Transformational Vocabulary.”
Gradually, I began to experiment with other words, and I found that if I came up with words that were potent enough, I could instantly lower or increase my intensity about virtually anything.
(I have broken up the paragraphs in the passage above to enhance readability.)
What an idea! I have never been able to read this passage without being impressed by it.
On an aside, people who are fed up with riding the emotional roller-coaster, down in the dumps one minute and flying higher than a kite the next, might want to try a wee dose of transformational vocabulary. Who knows, it might actually break the pattern and bring about a welcome transformation. It is non- surgical, painless and is absolutely FREE!
But I digress.
The words we use shape our inner world. You may call a man well- behaved or gentlemanly but when you call him chivalrous you’ve gone beyond just good manners and courtesy; you’ve brought in the colors of heroism. The words sadness and sorrow, though used interchangeably, are not the same. You may feel sad that you lost your lucky sweater, but it cannot compare with the sorrow of having lost your best friend.
Words are vivid and colorful or bland and faded. To call someone high spirited and to call them boisterous are two very different things. There is passion and a gay abandon about boisterous while high spirited sounds almost apologetic- but not quite.
The right word in can convey the precise meaning you wish conveyed. Your expressions take on a luminescence that is a clear as a mountain stream and as refreshing. One is not left floundering, battling with foggy notions which may mean this but also that and all things in between- all together. A fastidious woman like me frankly finds the concept appalling.
The sky is limitless; so is your world.
To be continued…
- iPad generation will have smaller vocabulary, study claims (telegraph.co.uk)
Ah! I must now start using “Annoyed” or, perhaps, “livid”. I use peeved when I am red-hot with fury 🙂
I, too, find that the appropriate word communicates much more than what the dictionary says it should – but when I use them I seem to, by and large, get “Eh?”; “What was that?” or “Is that really a word?” for reactions 🙂
Oh Suresh, my friend! You’ve touched a raw nerve!
Half the people I know don’t read me because- according to them- they can’t understand my language. That is why I deeply cherish readers like you. You save me from abject despair.
It certainly works. I have used it effectively many a times. Read this particular paragraph first time of course.
Yes it is effective. 🙂 Thanks!
Using good language on most people is like, “Chikne ghade par paani daalna!” Serious waste of time and cause for heartburn.
Oh I use good language because that’s my brand! I refuse to lower my standards for ‘chikna gharas’. 😀
Try using good Hindi in the South. It will kill you. They just stare at you as if you are a moron or a freak!
Let alone good Hindi Rachna, I think the poorest Hindi will earn me at least a stony glare if not a steel blade in my ribs.