Language Is Powerful


In class, I talk about how important language is in shaping our reality. It's not just what we say; it's how we say it.

I was in inpatient treatment in 2008. During family week, in one of our group sessions, each of us had to share our drug use history. After my turn, one of the other patient's family members raised his hand to give me feedback. He said, "I can tell that you are not going to stay sober. I can tell because when you talk about using you talk in the present tense. You say 'when I use' and 'when I relapse.' If you were serious about quitting you would use the past tense."

I was pissed. How dare he base my prospects for recovery on my totally unconscious use of the present tense!

I proved him wrong (I've been in recovery since 2008), and he taught me a valuable lesson that I have come to cherish, and share with others: language is powerful.

Today, pay attention to how many times you use the following words and phrases:

"I think...", "just", "kinda", "maybe", "I don't know", "I guess", "like", "try", "I will" or "I'm going to", and when you catch yourself using them, see what it feels like to say it again, without those words. Substitute "I am doing my best to..." for the word "try." Use "I am" instead of "I'm going to."

Let me know how it goes. (You can share your experience by commenting here.)

Windmill Design