If you’re like me, when you hear the word “abracadabra”, you think of magic, and you are absolutely right. Abracadabra is magic, but not rabbits in top hats magic. Loosely translated from an ancient language, abracadabra means “with my words, I create”. It makes sense, right? Magicians create those rabbits out of thin air using words and casting a spell, but guess what else? You create the person you are today as well as the person you will become tomorrow with the words that you use too.
We’ve talked a ton recently about reviewing your 2018 and planning your 2019, but we haven’t talked in depth about what words you’re using to frame those reviews and planning exercises. That’s all about to change…
If you’ve watched any of Coach Sara’s videos about vision casting or read Coach Shoe’s blog about goal setting, you’ve probably heard the terms “affirmative language” or “Procabulary”. What does that exactly mean?
Today I’m going to break down all things “Affirmative Language”. We’ll talk about the intent of using affirmative language, then I’ll introduce 3 main obstacles to affirmative language, called “Conflict Language”, and finally, we talk about why it’s important to develop affirmative language in your everyday life.
What Exactly is Affirmative Language?
Affirmative language, at the heart, is designed to be an accurate way to describe events, actions, perceptions, feelings, emotions, so on and so forth…. Affirmative language takes out the judgement (both internal and external) surrounding an event, action, perception…also. We are talking facts, just the facts.
Affirmative language decisively describes a desired outcome, where the speaker retains full individual power and responsibility for his or her actions, feelings, and emotions.
What Detracts from Affirmative Language? Conflict Language!
Negations – What You Don’t Want
Have you ever tried to coordinate dinner date with friends and heard the following, “I don’t want hamburgers tonight, and I’m not drinking beer either.” How helpful is that when it comes to deciding where you do go for dinner? Negations explain everything about what a person doesn’t want, and describes nothing about what they do want.
Projections “He/She Made Me..,”
Have you ever shared a coffee with a friend and heard something like, “He made me so mad; I just lost it. I took off out of the parking lot and then got a speeding ticket all because my husband forgot that I had a hair appointment scheduled and couldn’t pick up the kids from daycare”. That is an example of a projection. It completely removes all individual power and responsibility for an action, and gives it to an outside actor (person, place or thing).
Soft Talk – The Language of Indecision
Think about a time when you are being pressured into committing to a social event that you have no interest in attending. Does this sound familiar…”Yeah, that’d be great! I think I’m free, but I might have something that my guy/gal has planned for me. I’ve, sort of, thought about attending more events like this, and I kind of think it’s something that I should attend. I’ll get back to you.” Honestly, what are the odds that you’ll be at that event?
Soft talk creates these “outs” for you, it gives you permission to be indecisive. If you’re saying words that you don’t believe in at either a conscious or subconscious level, you’ll pepper in words similar to these when you talk or write:
- Like; Kind of like
- Sort of
- Might, Maybe
- Possibly; Perhaps
- Someday; One Day
- Should; Hope; Try
Why is Using Affirmative Language Important?
The way that you talk to yourself, literally, drives both your present and your future. Of those conflict language examples above, how many of you have said one or all of those sentences, or some semblance of those sentences, to yourself? What about the following sentences?
- I don’t want to live like this
- I don’t want to come home to a messy house
- I don’t want to have to go to the store to buy a bigger sized pair of jeans
- That driver had no idea what was going on, so I had to slam on my breaks
- That guy at Costco was being so slow, so I couldn’t pick up the tomatoes I wanted
- I should go to Icehouse consistently; maybe this week I’ll get my act together
- I might give my old high school friends a call this week, we should get together more often than we do
If you change the words you use to frame an event, action, or feeling…it will completely change your perspective…Don’t believe me? How do these sound?
- I live a life that I enjoy; I want to be able to leave my work at work and enjoy my family when I am home
- I have a clean house, where the sink is clear and the floor is swept
- I eat healthy and go to the gym so I can continue to wear the clothes that I have in my closet
- I was following too close in traffic, so I slammed on my breaks to avoid a crash
- I was feeling rushed and impatient at Costco, so I chose to pass on picking up tomatoes today
- I value friendship so I’m sending out a message to get my friends together this week and blocking out a couple different times in my calendar for coffee.
And just like that, you change a few words and are able to see the same situation through a more accurate set of lenses.
How Do I Add This “One More Thing” to My Daily Life?
Look I get it, deciding what you want is difficult; saying what you want, out loud, is more difficult; writing down, on paper, what you want is even more difficult to do; then finding the right words, seriously???
Change that order. Change the words that you say to yourself first. Start there. Once you’re out of conflict language and into affirmative language inside your own head, everything else falls into place.
Don’t believe me? Listen to someone far more experienced in life and compassion…
“Your beliefs become your thoughts. Your thoughts become your words. Your words become your actions. Your actions become your habits. Your habits become your values. Your values become your destiny” – Mahatma Gandhi
If you’re looking for more information on this, click on the link here and you can listen to the founder of Procabulary, Mark England, talk about, “Process versus Identity” and how changing the words you use to talk to yourself today will actually change your tomorrow.
Thanks for the read
Sarah Skedsvold is a coach at CrossFit Icehouse. She’s committed to turning workouts into play and bolstering CrossFit Icehouse’s charge to “Build Everyday Athletes”. In her spare time she is in a constant search the absolutely perfect personal planner and calendar.