The words that you use matter. What you tell yourself matters. How you decide to interpret things that happen in your life matters too. Your language affects your relationship with yourself (including your body), other people, life, food and the act of eating. It’s important to watch your language!

I have no problem with four letter words. You can swear all you like.

The words we choose to use every day, that are in common parlance and go largely unnoticed, can be very problematic. I’m just choosing one for today.

Should

Are you willing to do a little experiment?
Tell yourself what you think you should do. For example ‘I should eat less,’ or ‘I should go to the gym.’

Now notice how you feel in your body when you tell yourself that. If you don’t notice anything immediately, say it to yourself a few times. Pay attention especially to your shoulders, your chest, your stomach, your throat, your upper back, around your eyes… keep telling yourself what you should be doing or not doing.

Also pay attention to your energy. Do you feel energised by what you’re telling yourself, or do you notice a drag in your energy?

When I tell myself I ‘should’ or ‘shouldn’t’ do something, it’s often closely followed by a ‘but’. It’s like I have my foot reluctantly on the accelerator, but more firmly on the brake – at the same time. It’s pretty hard to move forward in that way!

Should implies that what you’re doing now isn’t ok. Using that language robs you of your self- direction, and your sense of choice. If you’re living in the world of shoulds, you’re probably living with a dragging sense of obligation to be someone you’re not, or don’t want to be.

‘Should’ also invites rebellion. I should eat less, but I don’t wanna!

Try this instead

Instead of telling yourself what you should be doing, try saying ‘could’. I could eat less. I could go to the gym. Now check in with your body again.

Notice a difference?

As I do this, I notice an immediate change in my internal sense of space. ‘Should’ feels cramped inside. My energy drags and feels heavy. ‘Could’ has a lot more space! I have a sense of choice when I use that word. There’s a sense of possibility and internal strength. It’s much more empowering, don’t you think?

‘I could eat less, and right now I’m choosing to eat as much as I like, even if I become overly full.’ Using could like this, I’m taking full responsibility for my choices and my actions. I’m being truthful about what I’m doing and why, and I’m accepting the consequences.

See what happens when you try it in the opposite way ‘I could stop eating now’ – it opens up possibility and curiosity: ‘what will happen if I do?’

Notice the power there?

Now try this

The next step is to use the word ‘choose.’

Use the same thing you were telling yourself you should be doing or could be doing, and experiment with telling yourself you choose to do it.

  • I choose to stop eating, because I’m no longer hungry.
  • I choose to continue eating because I’m still enjoying the taste/ I choose to continue eating even though I know I’m not hungry any more.
  • I choose to go to the gym.

How does that feel in your body?

If you feel relaxed, calm, or possibly even excited, then go for it! If you’re a little scared… read on.

If it feels tight, heavy, dragging or anything else unpleasant or stressful, then you’re not in full choice about it. It’s probably still a should. Check in with yourself and write down your objections. You may uncover something you didn’t notice was at play. There may be reasons for your reluctance that make sense to you: for example, you’re just recovering from an illness and you’re feeling pooped. It would make sense not to exercise. But perhaps it’s simply that your body isn’t used to exercise, and you don’t like the discomfort. This is where you tune into your intentions for yourself: your ‘big why’ for exercising. Then repeat checking in with your body – how does it feel now to make that choice? It could be that you’re asking too much of yourself right now – that running/ walking the distance you’ve got in your mind is not realistic or suitable for your current situation. Perhaps choosing something else will give you a different sense in your body as you imagine doing it?

You may discover that you’re scared of not feeling very full, so choosing to stop eating before you’re very full feels tight in your body. It might even feel scary. When you know this, you can then make a more informed choice. You might choose to think of the scariness as ‘good’ scariness – scariness that will lead you to the kind of growth and change you want. Perhaps you might choose a baby step instead – and eat a little more, so you’re less full than normal, but fuller than you need to be satiated.

Then check in with your body again. It’s a brilliant barometer. Use it. It’ll guide you to your inner wisdom.

And that’s all you really need!

With love,
Vania

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