As a child of the 80’s, I grew up watching Different Strokes. Oh the memories.
Anyone that has ever watched more than 1 episode of it is very familiar with Arnold’s famous line to his older brother whenever he delivered some unexpected news, “What you talkin’ ‘bout, Willis?” Words matter. Words have real impact. And the words you speak create the context for your life—what is and isn’t possible. Are you ready to take a look at how what you’re talking about is literally creating your life?
There is a distinction in the world of coaching that we call “language that describes versus language that declares.” They are both creative; meaning they both create a context of possibility. Language that describes creates more of what you already have, and there is no access to create anything new. Describing your bad day, your poor health, your tight finances, etc., just creates more of that for you to live into. You always get more of whatever you are describing. It is also the same context that takes your past and pulls it into the present, making what happened to you way back when alive for you right now. And whatever is alive for you right now becomes the future you live into for yourself. Here is a possibility to try on: Your past only exists in your speaking of it.
But language that declares literally creates something new from nothing. From nothing something. Think of when Yahweh spoke, “Let there be light!” and there was light. That is the power of declaration. You and I are made in His image. When we speak we create, and we have the capacity to create, or generate, from nothing through language. This means no constraint from the past. Language that declares is the context for creating a life by choice instead of a life by default.
Using language to declare gives you access to having intentional impact on the quality of your life right now, and the next now, and the next now. Life shows up in the space you create for it, and you create that space with your words. Using language declaratively is empowering; it leaves you being at cause for how your life unfolds, regardless of circumstances. It has you choosing who you are, because you say so, rather than being defined by what happens to you.
Take a look at the statement, “I love you.” It can be spoken as a description of ever shifting emotions or a declaration of a space to live into. What if “I love you!” became a stand you take regardless of what is happening in your relationship, rather than a statement based on moods, feelings or everything going your way? What impact would that have on how you show up in your relationships? How dependent would you be on how your loved one is behaving or misbehaving when your love comes from a declaration rather than a description?
Let me be clear, there is nothing right about declarative language or wrong with descriptive language. Just get that they each produce a different set of results. Descriptive language keeps reproducing and recycling what you already have. Declarative language gives you access to create something new of your own choosing. You can always use whichever one will leave you most empowered in any given moment.
This week, begin to notice what your language is creating for you; not only what you have but literally who you are. Notice how it is creates you. Notice how you speak (this includes your internal dialogue as well) and then live in a way that supports it. This is the context that you are framing for your life and it is the deciding factor in how you show up in your job, relationships, health, finances, etc. This gets really fun the more you practice it. I promise.