Do You Face a “Problem”, or a “Challenge”? Master Your Words!

Choose the language that you use to express yourself wisely. We give away much more information about ourselves in the way we communicate and the words we choose, than most of us are aware off. We define ourselves with the language that we use. The influence of our word choice however on our daily life is much further reaching than many people are aware off. As a matter of fact: your success in life, your happiness, your relationships, and your quality of life are all influenced by your every day speech.
Following will clarify this a bit.

A Challenge or a Problem?

There is an unbelievable difference in results & guitar progress between the student who refers to something he struggles with as a “problem” and the student who uses the word “challenge” instead. The student who sees something he is not good at, as a problem, is going to need significantly more time to overcome the obstacle, than the person who called it a challenge.

Both students are really saying (or at least meaning to say) exactly the same thing: they experience difficulty in their attempts to perform something I taught them on guitar.
They are saying and meaning the same thing, yet the word they chose to describe their initial difficulty will affect their practice approach, their drive, enthusiasm, and their results.
The reason for this, lies in the subconscious associations we make when we think of the words “problem” and “challenge”.

It is important to know why and how language affects you, so you can choose words that empower you instead of words that drag your energy down.
Research in the medical field and in neuroscience, shows evidence that our body and our brain activity calm down when we think of the color blue. Conversely; our body and brain get fired up and restless when the think of the color red.

Do Words Have Power, or Not?

Neither the color blue nor the color red however, have any power over you; they are merely words that label visual concepts. This leads back to the popular debate whether words have power or not, which to a large extent is a matter of semantics.

It is not the actual word itself that exerts an influence over you, it is the mental associations and thought processes you make (usually subconsciously) when thinking of that word. The only reason why thinking of the color blue, calms down your mental processes, is that you associate big, open skies and oceans with that color. (spaces so vast that you could stare at them forever without seeing any activity)
The color red on the other hand, is connected to thoughts of fire, blood, danger signs, scary stuff. As a result: red is far more intimidating than blue.

In conclusion: the colors or the words we use to name those colors, don’t carry any influence or power. It is the thoughts (resulting into feelings) we associate with those colors that make us feel a certain way.

On the other hand, one could of course claim that if words trigger certain associations and analogies which influence you in any way, that indirectly words indeed have power.

As mentioned earlier: it is a matter of semantics. If you believe that words don’t have power because it is the thoughts and not the words that impact you, then you are right… and if you believe that words indeed do have power because they are the triggers of the thoughts; then you are right as well.

Choose Your Words Wisely.

All that taken into account: it should be fairly easy to understand then how you probably benefit from thinking of something you can’t do, as a “challenge” rather than a “problem”.

When you think of the word “problem”, you never think of something fun, interesting or intriguing. A “problem” is not something that you want to spend time with. Just thinking about that word automatically makes you feel down. “Problem” is associated with “frustration”, “anger”, “resistance”, “difficulty”, “feeling inadequate”, etc. Just thinking of these things drags your energy down to the point where you’re too tired to practice guitar to begin with.

When however you think of the word “challenge”: you think of “adventure”, “possibilities”, obstacles that you will overcome, new territory, excitement. This is exciting: I can’t wait to practice on a challenge. I want to spend extra time in this and am stoked to conquer this and own it. This gives me extra energy.

Both students are really saying exactly the same thing: they are dealing with something they can’t pull off. However: both students will approach overcoming that obstacle with very different energies, attititudes, drive and passion, and will as such have very different results and different levels of success at the outcome.

I like what Eckhardt Tolle explains in The Power of Now. He asserts that problems do not occur, situations occur. A problem is what we make out of a situation. If we attach a lot of negativity to a situation or approach a situation with negative emotions instead of just resolving it right away, we turned the situation into a problem.

I have never seen a student who utters the word “problem”, progress equally quickly and effortlessly as the student who thinks in terms of something being a “challenge”.
Moreover: there is also a very strong, very obvious correlation between that particular person’s word selection, and that person’s personality. Remember: we give a lot of information away about ourselves in the language we use on a daily basis.

All this bears the question: do we use less positive language because we feel less positive, or do we feel less positive because we use less positively charged language? In other words: what comes first, the feeling or the language.
According to psychologist: the language comes first.
They believe that emotions (feelings) are the results of thoughts. We think in language. Hence: the thought, expressed and experienced in language, precedes the feeling that is caused by that thought.

Conclusion:

Change the labels that you use to describe things. Replace them with labels that carry more positive and uplifting associations, and you will instantaneously improve your life for the better.

Watch your every day language like a hawk.
If such few examples as described above, already make such a highly underestimated impact on a student’s success and results, go figure how many more words you might be using in your every day life, that keep you from living the richer, happier, more successful and more fulfilled life you deserve to have.

Use only words that give you strength and extra energy.
In doing so: you will also become an inspiration for everybody else around you. People will find comfort in your strength and in your healthy outlook on life, expressed in your every day language.


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