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Tuesday, January 15, 2013

A Whole Chicken Coop Vs. An IHOP Omelette

I'm quite invested in hearing responses to today's chicken and egg question. In your experience, is lasting change a result of shifting your language or does your language shift after you've initiated a change?

When first beginning to teach adults in the early 90's, one of my favorite mantras was "change your language, change your life." Based on reading the work of Albert Ellis, among others, I thought I'd seen evidence of how shifting my own language produced lasting change in my world. To cite just one example, I noticed back then how limiting my use of the word "should", when directed inward, helped me not beat myself up as much. Also: Limiting use of that same word when talking to others seemed to reduce the defensiveness I'd often engendered, particularly in loved ones. This one variety of cognitive restructuring Ellis calls "shoulding on yourself or others". This and the other language-driven changes I observed seemed dramatic to me.

Now, with 20 years of perspective, I'm wondering: Was it instead all that reading that first changed me in some fundamental way and perhaps my language shifted after I'd begun changing? A conversation with one of my wife's colleagues who shares an interest in neuro-linguistic programming started me down this latest chicken and egg path. After watching him wrestle with the question posed in the first paragraph above, I thought others on the bell curve might be interested in weighing in. Come on; it's a good 'un.             

1 comment:

  1. I keep telling myself I should read your blog everyday but I usually find myself catching up a week or two at a time. It's okay because I am retired and don't really have anything I 'should' do. My opinion on this subject is very basic. When you decide to initiate a change ( diet, language,exercise) you must begin to examine your life. It is this examination that causes the change to stick. It is the inner dialogue that you see reflected in your language.