Let’s spend a few minutes together and talk about how the vocabulary we use can affect how our bodies perceive, interpret, and experience pain. The vocabulary we use to describe any circumstance in our lives is directly connected to our body and how we experience sensations. Using an emotionally charged verbal statement that does not serve you can induce more pain in your physical body and “seal the deal”.
How often have you heard yourself say?
“My back is killing me.”
“I have always been fat.”
“I’m always going to be this way.”
“What’s the point of trying? It’s never going to change.”
I know that it is very common to think and say these kinds of statement regarding adversity in our lives. I certainly have spoken like this before. These statements attach themselves to your personal identity, spirit and the results you get in life. It is important to realize the power our words have and what statements like this do.
These statements actually strengthen negative energy in our body and increase pain, whether it be emotional and or physical pain. Our vocabulary affects the way our bodies experience and perceive sensations. It is documented that once a thought it is released from the brain, it only takes 20 seconds to affect the body’s nervous system, respiration, circulation, and several other internal processes within.
Look closely at the statement, “My back is killing me and I’m never going to get better.” Statements like this attach themselves to your identity. Statements that begin with My, I’m, and I, attach your identity to the statement and you hold on to this identity. With statements that attach our identity to a specific outcome, it becomes more difficult for our brain to separate you from the experience or circumstance.
When you begin to detach from the sensations in the body you can then begin to center on your emotions and thoughts. This begins the process of giving you your power back. Because you do get to decide what you want to think, it does require some mindfulness and awareness to proceed through this process. You will become empowered by doing so. This is a phenomena that is explored in the research of neuroplasticity. Neuroplasticity is all about changing the brain by managing the mind.
Neuroplasticity shows us ground-breaking research in how our thoughts and emotions physically manifest in our bodies. You may be asking yourself, “What does it mean to take back the story and rewrite my personal narrative so that my story is less about pain and more about power and resilience?”
Let’s start with a very simple exercise to begin to rewrite your story with adversity. This process works well for overcoming and changing any results in your life that are resulting in pain.
Make a list of your frequent pain or negative statements.
For example you may find yourself saying:
“I’m always going to be like this”
“I hate my body”
“My chronic pain is killing me”
Underline every word that is attaching yourself to your circumstance. Then underline every word that is discounting your abilities or giving your power away.
Rewrite these pain statements with the underlined words missing.
Then replace the empty spaces with new words that serve you better.
“It is like this for now”
“I honor my body”
“The chronic pain I am experiencing is bad right in this moment”
Keep this list handy so that you can refer back to it whenever you are experiencing a difficult time. It does take a little practice, however it will not take long to get used to your new personal narrative. Reframing your mind, thoughts, and personal narrative will allow your brain to carve new neuro-pathways and begin to change your physical results in life. Let’s stop fighting ourselves and begin to truly create sustainable changes in life.
Be sure to make sure the words you use are not attached to dead ends also. For example, “I used to work out and now I can’t.” This statement is a dead end in the way that it is just an ending. There is no forward direction. The story about yourself just completely ends in the statement. Don’t become stuck in the narrative of “I used to until”, or “I can’t because”. These kinds of statements lend themselves to anxiety and feelings of worthlessness. If you’re struggling with a hurdle in life, these are feelings that do not need to be added to or impounded. It’s important to see a future and not just an ending. The way to do this is to be sure your statements have an open end.
I previously gave an example where I reframed “I’m always going to be like this” to “It is like this for now.” Do you see how I have detached myself from the circumstance and left an ending open?
This is not about faking it until you make it. This is about using your thoughts and speech to begin detaching your identify from your circumstances in life. This practice is about giving you your power back and allowing you to heal from within.
The stories we tell ourselves shape and determine our future. Be sure the story you are telling yourself is a damn good one.
Due to the undeniable research on this topic and my personal experiences in life I have each of my clients write their story as a message of hope. The act of writing your story from this perspective is incredibly powerful and as we have discussed, healing. If my clients want to share their story I feature it on the Altered Self website under the page titled victory. Because your story has the power to allow you to be victorious in life.
Spend some time this week and reflect on what story you are telling yourself. Leave a comment and tell me about the story you tell yourself. Is it serving you and the life you want?