The other day I had a patient on my table excitedly telling me how a long-standing pain in her shoulder had “disappeared” as a result of our treatments. She’d had this pain for years, she’d been told by doctor after doctor that it was just the way her body was, and that she would always be in pain.
You and I, of course, know better –– and my patient came to learn that too. This is genuinely one of the most exciting parts of my job.
And I also knew in that moment that I had a responsibility.
So along with sharing her excitement, I gently suggested that she revisit her language. Had her pain just “disappeared”? Or had she taken some agency in the process?
She was taken aback for a minute. The concept of having control over her healing was new. But then a smile grew on her face as she realized that actually, she had taken part in her own healing.
It might seem like an incredibly nitpicky thing for me to do –– but I did it because know just how much language matters.
We tend to use our words carelessly. After all, we talk all the time, and we’re exposed to upwards of 10,000 words a day. There’s even a saying, “Talk is cheap.”
And so when it comes to the language we use with ourselves, we tend to let a lot slide. You might find yourself saying things like “I can’t do this,” or “This stupid body,” or “I hate [choose your favorite body part to hate on here]!”
We’re taught to speak harshly to ourselves, conditioned to think of ourselves as defective and to list our flaws and “inabilities” regularly.
But hey, it’s just words, right?
It is words –– but words are much more powerful than you can imagine. The language you use matters. It literally shapes your reality, giving your brain a filter and an anchor point for your experiences. And the way you habitually talk to yourself has a profound effect on your health.
Tell yourself you’re broken and incapable of change, and you’re going to have a hell of a time making any changes.
Tell yourself you’re powerful, and back that up with intentional action, and you can accomplish the “impossible”.
It’s just one of the many capacities your have for healing yourself –– so make use of it!
Forget the narrative that Western society tells you, and use your words to empower yourself, instead of tear yourself down.
You are so much more powerful than you think.