Using These 3 Words Sabotages Your Happiness

Tim Ebl

Self Talk Matters

Self talk happens all day long, and it includes the words and language you use to communicate with everyone around you. How do the things that you say to yourself or others affect the subconscious mind? They aim it in a direction, and your subconscious is very single minded. It doesn’t like to turn around. It will follow the course it gets set on.

What do these three scenarios have in common:

The archer carefully positions her body, nocks an arrow, draws the string back and aims. The arrow flies in the right direction into the target with a hard THUCK.

The teen stands with his feet shoulder width apart, pulls his arm back with the ball by his ear and turns his body a little to the right side. He looks at the target area and then throws, putting all his momentum toward the other player’s glove. The ball lands in it with a THWACK.

The driver see the red light and slows his car down with the breaks. He turns on his right turn signal. As the light turns green, he looks toward the right and hits the gas, turning in the direction he’s looking.

Your self talk aims you at the target

All of these motions above start with aiming at the target. It’s the littlest actions that add up to big things. We lose track of that. We forget to aim at the right things.

No one intends to be negative instead of positive. Don’t be hard on yourself, it’s natural. But, I prefer to be better than natural. Would you like to join me on the journey of self improvement? Let’s optimize ourselves today and learn not to say this one phrase. It’s three words, and really you only need to change one of them.

The negative implication

“Any plans for the rest of the day?” the waitress asked while I entered the pin for my card to pay for our meal.

“I have to go to the book store,” I said distractedly.

Whoa! Stop the ride. Did I just complain that I had to go to the bookstore? One of the places I love the most and I’m being forced to go there against my will? Since when is it a problem to go look at all those new masterpieces and fascinating reads? Why am I telling myself I don’t really want to do this, but I have to?

I have to get up early to write. I have to go grocery shopping I have to go to work. I have to eat supper. There’s a hint of negativity in all of this. I’m being forced to eat supper? I’m being forced to pick out foods that I like so I can eat healthy?

I’m being forced to write — for myself?

When we say things like this, we aim away from happiness. Right at the beginning of the activity, we aim away from the target. Unless our goal is feeling forced to do things, in which case we are aiming true.

It’s a simple fix to learn to say it right. Show your subconscious mind that you are in control. No one forces you to do things you like.

I like to write. I like to get up early (I’m weird that way.) I like eating, shopping for food, and cooking. I never “have to” cook, because I chose to do it.

I get to do better

My target is being happy and creative and useful to others. Being negative and complaining about all the things I have to do is terrible. I don’t want to be claiming that I’m forced into anything. I get to do better.

Change “have” to “get” and you can do all of your gratefulness for the day without even trying. This is better than a gratitude journal because you can take it anywhere you go.

“I have to go to the bookstore” becomes “I get to go to the bookstore.” This is more like it. Not only do I want to go there, I get to! If I buy a book, the author gets a tiny cut. It’s a win-win-win.

I get to go grocery shopping. I get to buy food that I want to eat. I get to drive there in my own vehicle. My life is full of abundance.

I get to have a shower whenever I want. I don’t have to, but I get to.

You don’t have to change anything

But you can. If you want, you get to change what you tell yourself each day. It’s a small change, but it’s as powerful as the archer aiming at the target instead of at the sky.

Building gratitude each time you tell yourself how lucky you are to get to go to work, while so many are going hungry. Realizing that getting to have a shower could be considered a luxury.

You might realize that getting to work out means your body is already pretty healthy, you have spare time and you aren’t fighting to stay alive. “I have to work out” sounds like the guards at the internment camp are forcing you to break rocks with a sledge hammer again.

How do you change it?

The fix isn’t instant. You will notice yourself saying it repeatedly. Just accept that you complained that you had to do something, repeat the sentence with get instead.

“I have to workout, I mean, I get to work out.”

“I have to write an article today, I mean, I get to write an article today.”

I have to have a shower. I mean, I get to have a shower.”

Another fun way to change “have” to “get” is to enlist friends, children parents or coworkers. Agree to play a little game where if you notice someone else saying “have to” you gently point it out, and score a point. At the end of the week, the winner gets to lord it over the others participating.

Can this really make any difference?

Maybe it seems like a waste of time to you. But convincing your subconscious mind that you are in control of your destiny is more important than you might realize. This is core level stuff. Are you choosing to do things, or are you just a pawn, an ant on the ant pile?

It’s all about gratitude. That’s where happiness lives.

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

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I'm an author, yoga enthusiast, and meditation instructor. I spend a lot of time outdoors with activities like running, hiking and camping. My writing is all about the humorous side of life and personal growth, habits ,mindfulness, and outdoor adventures.


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