Most of the language that you create, you create unconsciously. You have two elements to your mind. The conscious part of your mind, which is the thinking part, the logical part, the analytical part, the part that is reading right now and probably commenting inside your head on what you are reading. Then there is the unconscious part. Your unconscious mind is the part of your mind that you are not consciously aware of right now. It's the part that is working hard for you in the background. It's the part that runs your body. It controls your breathing, your digestion, in fact, it is running all the systems in your body. Everything that works outside of your consciousness, even down to blinking your eyes, is the domain of your unconscious mind. You don't think about those things do you? It is your unconscious mind that is diligently supporting those processes. You may have heard this part of your mind referred to as your sub-conscious. In the profession that I work in, we choose different language. Sub-conscious tends to imply that the conscious is greater than the sub-conscious and that the sub-conscious is underneath, a lesser part of your mind. Actually, the opposite is true. Your conscious mind doesn't have much processing power, it doesn't have the facility to store any memories or information, that is all done at the unconscious level, your unconscious mind has ultimate processing power and ultimate storage for everything you want to learn and everything you want to make sure is stored as a memory.
Your unconscious mind is very powerful. Your unconscious mind is where all your learning, your behaviour and your capacity to change exists. Consider that for a moment please. You have got a whole mind that is there to work for you. A whole mind, that is facilitating your capacity to change and a whole mind that you can get in control of. Let's start to think about taking some steps towards doing that.
You don't often think about the language you use. Quite often the language you use is employed without you thinking about what you are saying, without selecting the words carefully. Have you ever heard the terminology, ‘my mouth started working before my brain went into gear’. Sometimes you just blast stuff out. Have you ever had a conversation with somebody and then you come away and you think about it. Now you start to think about the language you used and start to criticise yourself and things to yourself like, ‘I should have said that’ or ‘I should have phrased that differently’, ‘I should have used different language and could have had a better conversation’. The way you think about your external experiences is heavily influenced by the language that you use in your head, your internal dialogue, what you say to yourself on a day to day basis. That language you use to construct the stories that you tell yourself shapes your internal representations, switches on your emotions and directly shapes your behaviour.
Part of the magic of language is that language is magic. To influence the natural processes that are going on in your mind, just changing your language, the words that you choose to use, can really influence your personal power. You can set up a changed mindset, from negative to positive, unresourceful to resourceful by being more conscious about the language you choose. Learning how to be fully conscious about the language you use when you talk to yourself means that you can start to construct your internal language on purpose, enabling you to get in control of your emotions and your unconscious behaviour.
Ask yourself, ‘what is the nature of the words that I'm using to talk to myself?’ Are you being judgmental? Perhaps beating yourself up linguistically in your own head? Criticising yourself in a very harsh voice? When you do that, the words directly change your internal representations of your world, impacting your physiology your physical wellbeing and how you feel, which of course, you now know, dictates your behaviour on the outside.
Today I'd like you to consider one little three letter word, which when used, significantly impacts the effectiveness of your communication. I would like you to begin to be conscious of the effect this little word really has. When you speak, unconsciously, you annunciate your surface structure of meaning. Sitting behind that surface structure is a deeper structure of meaning. The deeper structure of meaning is working within your neurology, it is operating within your internal representation and creating your state. Even though you are using the words quite innocently to the outside, actually inside, they are really having an impact.
It is the deep structure of meaning that your unconscious mind becomes aware of. So, what is this word that can damage the effectiveness of your communications?
‘But’ is a quite destructive three letter word and you use it all the time. When I learned to take that word out of my language, I was absolutely astonished how much change it made, both to the way I felt inside and to the way others responded to me outside. What I learned to do instead was to use the word ‘and’ to fill the space that ‘but’ would have occupied, or just put a comma, a pause. The word ‘but’ is so unhelpful because it cancels out everything you said before it. When you say to somebody, ‘I understand what you're saying, but…’ the ‘understand what you're saying’ is deleted in the consciousness of the listener. Now they are waiting uncomfortably for the disagreement, criticism and judgement to arrive. If anybody has ever given you feedback with a ‘but’, it doesn't feel good dies it? You hear, ‘I thought you did really well, but…’ and now you are thinking, ‘here comes the negative criticism!’. Anything that is said prior to the word ‘but’ is completely cancelled from awareness. It's like you are saying, ‘I've just said something and it wasn't the truth. Now I'm going to tell you the truth’.
If the feedback was constructed differently, you respond to it differently. Apply this to yourself, ‘you did really well this morning, and…’ Now that feels different doesn’t it, you know something else is coming and it is going to be helpful. ‘I understand what you're saying and…’, something helpful is on its way. Every time you use the word 'but', you are denying yourself and those you communicate with, clarity of meaning. If you want to smarten up your communication skills, begin with deleting the word 'but' from your language. Be careful of unhelpful substitutions too, after all, 'however' is just 'but' in a frilly blouse!
This is a natural process. The magical thing is that behavioural change doesn't have to be difficult and it doesn't have to take a long time. If you use the natural process that your brain uses to learn, change can happen delightfully quickly. Start getting conscious of the language that you use in your own mind and once you have adjusted the language that you direct towards yourself, you can start to think about the language that you direct towards other people and how that affects them. Think of it this way. Every time you speak, you change the way somebody else feels. Wouldn't it be magical if every time you spoke, you impacted someone's internal representation positively? Isn't that a gift. If you use your language in a certain way that will have other people start to feel more resourceful and more positive, wouldn't the world be a better place?