Want to know a magic trick where you can instantly change your mood and motivation just by changing one letter that you habitually use? Of course you do. Who doesn’t want to feel more enthused and less resentful, to procrastinate less and do more?
Okay, so it’s this. What have you GOT to do today? Finish that report? Do the washing? Pick the kids up from school? Go for a run? Make dinner for 5? Take the car for a service? Grocery shop? Review the budgets? Got to answer your email?
Each day is packed with so much stuff that we just have to get done. There is a great pithy quote that sums this up to perfection “Life is just one damned thing after another” (variously attributed to many, including Winston Churchill and Elbert Hubbard). And some days it sure can feel like that. A hamster wheel of getting from one thing to the next, to the next. There are so many things to get done, it never stops. No wonder we can get resentful and some days can feel like a grind.
And if that’s just modern life, just reality, how can we change that?
Well, we can shift our perspective instantly through changing the language that we wrap our experiences in. Words are the magic emotion carriers that define our experiences. Read these out loud to yourself and see if you can feel the change in your emotional response:
I’ve GOT to pick the kids up from school today
I GET to pick the kids up from school today
Different, right? The first sentence we can feel resentful, rushed, harried. The second evokes gratitude, luck, happiness. After all, there are many people who would give anything in the world to go pick their child up from school. Perhaps their children are grown. Or they are doing week about and don’t get to see them for another 6 days. Or they have lost a number of pregnancies and would give anything to go hold a little one’s hand and pick up a piece of appalling potato cut “artwork”. So, I get to pick the kids up from school today? The experience becomes infused with a whole different emotional response.
I’ve GOT to answer my email.
I GET to answer my email.
Trickier example maybe, but the same principle applies. The first is filled with frustration and pressure, the second with purpose and resolve. Having email does mean that we actually have a job! That there is work to be done that we are being financially compensated for. That our opinion or service or expertise is being sought in some way. A complete absence of email these days is an indication of no work, no job. So, I get to answer my email. Great! Let’s get on with it.
We know the language we use with others is tremendously powerful. We know that some well-chosen words can have the impact of healing or transform a situation in a moment. We also know that some words once spoken can rip a life apart in an instant such that it will never be the same again. Our words have tremendous power – and we are generally hyper-conscious of that in our interactions with others. In our interactions with others, we select them with care.
Here’s the thing. The words you habitually use with YOURSELF are even more powerful. If your internal dialogue is full of “I’ve got to” and “I have to”, you are going to feel trapped, resentful and frustrated. Often. It’s disempowered language. It denies the reality of the choice you have in your life.
Empowered language such as a simple switch to “I get to….” will profoundly affect how you move through your day. This morning I felt the pressure of a deadline looming, a column I’ve got to write for y’all. That’s not the most inspirational place for me to approach what is actually an opportunity I feel profoundly grateful to have each week. I get to talk to you, about what’s on my mind, and hopefully, uplift, inspire or give you something meaningful to ponder. I get to be able to do this, to have my own column. How cool! And yes the deadline does seem to come round with a cunning regularity that seems more frequent than the week that it actually is! However, I haven’t GOT to do this; I GET to do this. I get to write for you every single Monday. How lucky am I. It’s a pleasure and never a chore that I get to do that – heartfelt thanks from me today to you, dear reader, for reading and making this a part of your Monday and a part of what I get to do for a living.
Action Step: What have you got to do today that you feel frustrated or resentful about? Change your language about getting to do it instead, and feel your mood and motivation rise.