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Dana's Mindful Minute: Words Matter

Inspiration for this week: Simon Sinek on Nervous vs. Excited


I absolutely love this 3 minute video and have probably shared it with clients who may have been with me a bit longer at some point. Simon Sinek considers himself an unshakable optimist who has gone on to shape minds through his TED talks and books: Start with Why, Leaders Eat Last, The Infinite Game, etc. If you ever find yourself needing some inspiration, do yourself a favor and listen/read his stuff...so fascinating! Anyways, Simon shares in this video about the difference between nervous vs. excited. Spoiler alert...physiologically, there is no difference! BUT there is a difference in how we interpret those two words. And even though our body goes through the same physical response, if we elect to change the particular words we choose, we can change the trajectory of how we respond to our environment and achieve better outcomes.

Theme of the Week- Words Matter

Again, if you've been working with me for some time, I can guarantee that I have interrupted you at some point to ask you to change the words you use. Language is so important when learning how to shift our thinking. We literally have the power to change our brain chemistry by choosing different words. Last week I touched on this by asking you to catch and shift your use of extreme words. And we can do this with so many more negative self-talk phrases that we tell ourselves! 

Just as in this video above, Simon was able to calm himself down when thinking about speaking in front of 3,000 police by changing how he spoke about it. Instead of stating he was nervous to talk in front of so many people and knowing the stakes were so high, he changed the narrative to say he was excited to help inspire so many minds. So this way when those pesky physiological signs of increased heart rate, sweaty palms, dehydration hit before stage, he could interpret as the set up for a positive thing to happen rather than a threat. And when he no longer interpreted the physical symptoms as a sign of a threat, guess what happened? They subsided! Because the "perceived threat" was no longer present so his brain told the body to start the relaxation response and his body followed suit. 

This trick does not just have to apply to nervous vs. excited. I am very choosy about my words and you may often hear the words challenge and opportunity to come out of my mouth in session. These words are replacing negative self-talk moments of "I can't", "problem", "barrier", etc. Instead of stating "I can't go to this event, I don't know anyone and I'll feel like an idiot", I would correct that to state, "I have an opportunity to meet someone new and I'm going to challenge myself to start up a conversation with at least one new person tonight." See how that works?

Challenge this week: Change the Narrative

Do yourself a favor and pay attention to the words you use this week. Is there an opportunity for you to change the narrative to help your brain and body respond better to a situation (Oh look, see what I did there!)? As I see most clients with anxiety issues, this exact example could be a starting point for you, so change the word nervous or anxious to excited. Nervous about the job interview or date? Instead, say I'm excited because ____. Or find some other words or phrases that you may interpret in a negative way, blocking you from doing what is best for you. And don't worry if this doesn't come easy, I am more than happy to interrupt and help you pick up on these mincing of words moments in session to change the narrative ;).

dana renee counseling
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