Words, Semantics & You

It’s interesting how we evolve through our words, how we talk to ourselves and others and the words that we use.

Many words we use may be based on an inherent fear –

Fear of not being liked
Fear of not being successful enough
Fear of not being good enough
Fear of gaining weight
Fear of getting ill
Fear of losing our job
Fear of identity loss
Fear of wealth diminishing
Fear of not enough wealth
Fear of being alone
Fear of not being alone
Fear of dying
Fear of getting sick

And on it goes. The list can in fact be endless – can you think of a few other fears that might be unconsciously driving you?

And yet the Marianne Williamson quote resonates with me still:

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light not our darkness that most frightens us”

What does this quote mean to you?

To me it means there’s no point in trying to be TOO successful because I’m concerned that I might fail anyway. My “CBA” (can’t be arsed) state of mind then springs into my being, holding me back. There is an external element to this (fear of letting people down) and an internal element to this (not good enough).

Yet there isn’t any evidence that I could fail (I haven’t tried, so I can’t fail), but then logically even if I did “fail” then at least I will have learned something. Try again, or try differently.

It’s about action taking, or rather in-action not-taking. I’m not going to do anything. Even though I dislike feeling stuck, perhaps even bored, the last thing I want is to take action. And that’s partly because I see my action as being to teleport myself to the level that I want to be at without taking the individual steps; individual steps are either boring too, or feel too difficult as it means getting out of a comfort zone of my own making, which doesn’t truly serve but it’s a “comfort” zone!

This therefore now means I AM comfortable.
So if I’m not comfortable, I must change something

This is what is often behind self-sabotage.

Do we therefore alter the goal?

Perhaps we might. The goal might be say, to lose two pounds in weight.

That’s easy and achievable, surely?

But then what about the words that we use?

Good
Bad
Should
Must
Ought

“I was bad today, I ate a jam doughnut”
“I was bad last night, I drank an entire bottle of Prosecco”
“I was bad and went to the pub last night as I was so angry with ….. and drank six pints of ale”

“I’m no good at maths”
“I’m so forgetful”
“I’m crap at computers”

When or when are we going to talk about ourselves in positive terms with other people?

“I had a great time yesterday and really enjoyed that (doughnut / prosecco / ale / pizza) etc.”

“in the past I’ve been a bit slow at doing maths and my experience taught me that I needed to work a bit on my maths skills, and that’s absolutely fine, because I’m great at seeing the logical pattern of things / great at artistry etc”

Just a shift in looking at your strengths rather than giving energy to your weaknesses can make a profound shift in how you see yourself.

Equally, in relationships where competitive streaks kick in (often around younger relationships) people often tend to tear strips off their partners who are “useless in listening” or “bad at understanding” what the other needs, (we often take out our childhood wounds on those closest to us because “we can” – until the relationship breaks down, that is).

Can we not be kind to each other? Acknowledge that one of us is better at something than the other?

I recognise that my attention span is limited at times in certain areas, but my partner is brilliant at catching onto what was said, by whom and the relevant timeline. I might nod off, and he is captivated. This has happened a lot in my relationships – instead of feeling weak and feeble by comparison, I can ask him to remind me, explain and engage me in my own level of understanding on the topic.

Yet when it comes to relationships, the stories behind them, the potential power imbalance and patterns of behaving / relating I am in my element and love to break down the conversations to unravel the areas where positive shifts can happen.

Returning to the idea of “good / bad / useless / crap” I’d like to explore another area:

Around 20 or so years ago, we would ask someone how they were. Their reply would vary.

“I’m very well, thank you”
“Not so bad, xyz happened but I’m getting there”.

These days it is “I’m good, thank you” – with some people still saying “I’m not so bad”.

Can someone explain to me what this ACTUALLY means?

I interpret it to mean someone who feels well and someone who feels OK given their circumstances.

If we are well, why not just say so?

If we are unwell, and there is time for a conversation, say so but if you’re not well and there isn’t time just say “not great right now but I’m bearing up / I’m ok”

Some of this is time pressured and sometimes it isn’t.

So I guess the main message here within this blog is watch your words; what are you telling yourself and others and think about the impact we all have on each other.

Think about YOUR fear; how can you reframe this and live the life you REALLY want?

Facing Your Fears

Anxiety can be a normal response to stress or danger and may be called the ‘flight or fight’ response.  What happens is that adrenalin is quickly pumped through the body enabling it to cope with whatever catastrophe is perceived that is about to happen or is happening. If this response is out of proportion to the actual danger of the situation, or generated when there is no danger present then various problems can arise including:

  • Racing heartbeat
  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest tightness
  • Dry mouth
  • Butterflies in stomach
  • Nausea
  • Urge to pass urine/empty bowels
  • Tremor
  • Sweating
  • Pins and needles

The psychological symptoms of anxiety can include:

  • Inner tension
  • Agitation
  • Fear of losing control
  • Dread that something catastrophic is going to happen (when there is absolute no evidence)
  • Irritability
  • Feelings of detachment

Check out this link for more information  This suggests that anxiety disorders are common. One survey (in Great Britain) it was suggested that 1 in 6 adults had experienced some form of mental health issue in the past week, with the most common disorders being anxiety and depressive disorders.  Obviously this brings home the very real aspect of anxiety and how it can affect and the reasons why we need to be able to treat people with anxiety to help them understand and manage their symptoms.

Many people with anxious symptoms may realise that these are inside their head and recognise that, at times, they need to stop “overthinking” or “getting in their own way”.

Often they completely understand that these fears, anxieties or even fears of the anxieties are not based on reality nor a current situation.  They may be based on something that has happened before, perhaps even unrelated, and yet for some reason the hardwiring defaults to that feeling of the time and they can feel paralysed with anxiety, stress, heart pounding and all sorts of horrible feelings that prevent them from doing what they enjoy, or prevent them from moving forwards into a place that might give more satisfaction, more joy etc.

Working with metaphors in therapy is not original.  When I stumbled across the “Room of 1000 demons” story as a metaphor with facing and managing anxiety I thought I would share it here.

It is said that every five years, in Tibetan monasteries monks in training are referred to the ‘Room of 1000 Demons’.  For enlightenment to occur they need to be able to walk into the room and come out the other side.  Once in the room the entrance door locks behind them and they need to walk through and exit only by the exit door, and the room is full of 1000 demons – each and every one of them illustrating all of your worst fears.

So if you fear spiders, it will be a giant spider, heights, then a very tall building exemplifying your fear of heights etc.  Apparently some monks, when hearing this, opt to not go into the room at all.

Facing your earsThose that do are told two things – that the demons are not real, and to keep moving.

To this end this illustrates the idea that your thoughts are simply your thoughts, they are not real and to progress through life you need to keep moving.

What are your thoughts?