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Rephrase In Real Time

Historically, the words that hold us back often become the center of attention. In order to understand and overcome these limiting beliefs, we need to delve into the transformative power of language.

In my book, I talk about “Meeting Your Brain,” and today, we’re going to explore that concept in detail. I’ll also share a quick tip on how you can rephrase your thoughts in real-time to foster more optimism. Numerous studies highlight the profound impact of optimism on our well-being and lives. This lesson stems from my experiences with mass resiliency training in the army.

Let’s begin by understanding the foundation of this paradigm shift. An event occurs, triggering thoughts, emotions, and reactions. While this process is natural, my work with Dr. Bill Crawford led to a significant alteration in this model. Today, we’ll discuss the incredible power that your thoughts wield over your emotions and responses.

To ensure we’re on the same page, I want to share Dr. Bill’s insightful perspective, which I heard during a Vistage meeting last September. He said, “There are only three things you have to do. You have to be born, you have to die, and in between, you have to live.” These words resonated with me because they highlighted the crucial difference between “have to” and “get to.”

Too often, we use phrases like, “They made me do this,” or “I have to do that.” This victim language can be toxic and hinder our optimism, as it focuses on what we can’t control rather than what we can. Now, let’s dive into the science behind this.

Dr. Bill emphasizes the role of the brain in this process. Picture your brain as having three components: the lower lizard brain, the middle brain, and the upper brain. Your lower brain regulates your body’s functions, like heart rate and adrenaline. The middle brain processes information and determines if something is a threat or not, triggering your reactions.

Many of us have experienced moments where our adrenaline kicks in, causing us to act out of character or against our values. This is the fight, flight, or freeze response, an instinct that once served us well when we were hunter-gatherers but may no longer be beneficial in the modern world.

The goal is to engage your upper brain, your clear, confident, creative brain. By slowing down your response time from the event to your reaction, you can make more intentional choices. To achieve this, you need to tap into your values and beliefs, which are the guiding principles hidden beneath the surface of your consciousness. These values and beliefs help you navigate life’s challenges with greater clarity.

When faced with a stimulus, you have a choice. You can engage your clear, confident, creative brain, which has more cognitive power, or you can default to the fight, flight, or freeze response. This choice is heavily influenced by the words you use, both before and after a situation.

Let’s put this into perspective using three key words: abundance vs. scarcity, love vs. hate, and assurance vs. insecurity. Your choice of words significantly impacts your mindset, and it’s a choice you make every day when thinking about your past, present, and future.

When reflecting on the past, consider the words you use. Did something happen “to” you, making you a victim, or did it happen “for” you, offering an opportunity? For example, getting laid off from my father’s company initially felt like a setback. However, I eventually saw it as an opportunity to explore new paths and pursue my passions.

In the present, it’s essential to reframe your tasks. Instead of saying you “have to” do something, recognize that you “get to” do it. This shift in perspective reminds you of the privileges you have and the opportunities available to you.

Looking towards the future, your choice of words shapes your mindset. Anticipating a positive outcome fills you with excitement, while anticipating a negative outcome results in anxiety. The key insight here is that the brain processes both emotions in a similar manner; it’s the expectation that differs.

In summary, your life is a sum of the choices you make in each moment. Will you approach it with clear, confident, creative decision-making, or will you react with fear-based responses like fight, flight, or freeze? The choice is yours, and it all comes down to the words you use. Your language, comprising 7,000 spoken words and 70,000 thoughts daily, ultimately governs your life.

I encourage you to choose optimism, embrace the power of language, and always take action. Remember, the choice is yours, so make it a conscious one.

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Andy Weins

Andy Weins is a fourth-generation entrepreneur, Veteran of the U.S. Army, and speaker. Through consulting, teaching, podcasting, and writing, he is an enthusiastic supporter of Veterans, entrepreneurs, community engagement, individual empowerment, and the environment.

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