The Power of Language in Achieving Health Goals
Getting healthy is a popular goal for many people, but reaching that goal requires more than just taking action. Our perspectives, attitudes, confidence, and commitment also play a role. Interestingly, these can be influenced by something that we may not often think about – our language. In this article, we will explore three language tweaks that can help us achieve our health goals.
1. Switch from saying “I can’t” to “I don’t”
Breaking bad habits is a common goal for many of us. We want to cut out sugar, reduce alcohol consumption, or quit smoking. When faced with these once-enjoyed items, we often say, “I can’t” resist them.
But what does this phrase communicate? It suggests that we want to engage in the behavior, but we are not allowed to do so. This restriction feels limiting, and it can eventually lead to relapse. When we say, “I don’t” instead, we are reframing our behavior as consistent with our identity and values.
Research shows that “I don’t” is more empowering and effective in breaking bad habits than “I can’t.” So the next time you are tempted to say, “I can’t eat dessert,” try saying, “I don’t eat dessert.” You might find that this simple language change can make a big difference.
2. Differentiate between what you “should do” versus what you “want” or “need” to do
Developing a new habit can be challenging. We often speak in terms of what we “should” do, such as, “I should eat more vegetables” or “I should exercise more.” However, the word “should” doesn’t communicate a deep connection with our goals. It sounds rational and distant, lacking desire and urgency.
Instead, we need to use language that conveys our wants or needs. Saying, “I want to eat more vegetables” or “I need to exercise more” reflects a deeper connection to our goals and a strong motivation to pursue them.
Research supports the idea that using words such as “want” and “need” is associated with higher emotionality and a stronger commitment to our goals. So let’s start speaking in terms of what we want and need to do, rather than what we should do.
3. Use language that conveys a strong commitment to your goals
Finally, commitment to our health goals is crucial to achieving them. Using language that conveys a weak commitment, such as saying, “I’ll try to do it” or “I’m thinking about making a change,” implies a lack of determination and dedication.
On the other hand, using words that convey a strong commitment, such as “I’m determined to change my behavior” or “I’m dedicated to achieving my health goals,” can make a huge difference. These words signal to our brain that we are serious about our goals, and they can inspire us to take action, even when faced with obstacles.
In conclusion, our language has more power than we may realize. By making these simple language tweaks, we can change our perspective, attitudes, confidence, and commitment, and ultimately achieve our health goals. Let’s start using language that empowers us and inspires us to take action today.