What would you think of if I told you NOT to think about green sunglasses? Don’t do it; don’t think of green sunglasses!
Ok, so it doesn’t help I have a big picture of them glaring right into your eyes. Here is another one just for kicks.
Don’t blink your eyes. Do. Not. Blink. Your. Eyes.
Did you blink?
The interesting thing is our minds must think of doing something before we can think of not doing that exact thing.
For instance, if I said, “Don’t trip,” you would have to think of tripping before you could think of not tripping.
I bring this up because I have found the whole concept of how we talk to ourselves and others supremely interesting. Michael and I are listening to the The Best Kept Secrets Of Great Communicators by Peter Thompson.
Peter talks about how most people phrase what they say negatively instead of positively and we aren’t even aware of it.
What happens when we phrase things in negative way? The exact thing we don’t want to happen, most times, actually happens.
The phrase, “Don’t forget,” is a perfect example.
How many times have you heard a parent say, “Don’t forget to take out the trash.” What usually happens? The child forgets to take out the trash. Why? Because in our minds we focus on the action first and then the rest of the sentence. So in the child’s head it would sound something like, “Forget to take out the trash, don’t.”
Simply re-phrasing it to “Honey, please take out the trash when you get home” changes the whole focus! Simple, right?
We do the same in our own heads with our self talk. “Don’t forget to call the doctor,” instead of simply, “I will call the doctor later.” Or, the classic phrase, “Don’t hesitate to call,” instead of simply, “Feel free to call!”
Re-phrasing how we talk to ourselves and others is an amazingly simple, yet radically life altering practice.
Question: Have you ever thought about re-phrasing your phrases?