How does your language affect your state of mind?
When I was growing up, phrases like “watch your language”, “mind your P’s and Q’s” or the exclamation “language, please!” regularly flew round the classroom. Unsurprisingly, teachers were generally referring to the colourful profanities of excited teenagers.
Now pipe down at the back – this article is not about swearing. Rather, it’s about how our use of language can affect our physical and mental states. Think about the following words: should, must, need and try. How often do we use these words in our day?
They seem like pretty innocuous words – you won’t catch any high school teachers reprimanding wayward students for using these words in a classroom. But think about the sentiment attached to these words: I must finish this before I do that, I should be doing this, I need to complete that, I’ll try and get to it by this afternoon.
With each of these statements we put ourselves under obligations and time pressures, sometimes necessary, sometimes not. Either way, have you even noticed your physical and mental response to these statements?
The “I should be” statement leaves part of our mind busy and means that we often find it very difficult to relax. As these time pressures pile up so do the tensions in our bodies – perhaps centred in the shoulders, the neck, the stomach: we’re all different.
Recognising that we can’t put our lives on hold, and that there’ll always be things that we need to attend to, what can we do to avoid our sense of obligation running riot with our need to look after ourselves?
One of the best things is to give yourself permission to relax. Whether it be taking a brief stroll outside the office to breathe some fresh air or spending the day gardening, its amazing how spending time away from all those tasks you “should be doing” allows your mind to return to them with fresh purpose and renewed vigour.
So add a new item to your mental to-do list: relax.