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“We live and die by the tongue” is a saying that means that the exact, literal words we choose to say and think are extremely important. We are surrounded with words all the time- in media, at work, in stores- including the words that we are closest to: the ones in our own heads. The voice in one’s head can be very influential as it is both a reflection of and an influence on themself. Therefore, it is very important to choose these words carefully, especially if they are repeated trigger words such as those used in mindfulness training. For example, the book Mindfulness and Sport Psychology for Athletes by [please insert how you would like to be addressed], asserts that the thoughts “I am thinking ‘I can’t do this’” and “I can’t do this” have severely different meanings.
In the first example, the thinker is objectively recognizing that they are thinking negative thoughts. Although this is not the optimal mindset for any athlete, the fact that the athlete recognizes their current mental state means that they are in the position to change it from negative to positive. After thinking “I am thinking ‘I can’t do this,’” the athlete can then push that thought aside in order to make room for more positive, in-the-moment thoughts such as “I am focused.”
Comparatively, in the second example the athlete has subjected themself to purely negative thoughts. They have already began the decent into a negative mindset and are thus not focused on their present task, but instead on their present troubles. This is obviously a far worse position to be in than that of Athlete 1. From here, Athlete 2 should aspire to name their negative thoughts. Admitting to oneself, “I am thinking negatively,” may sound self-defeating but in fact it is the first step to solving the problem of self-defeat: the first step is to admit you have a problem.
We have the power to choose exactly what words consume our minds and as mindfulness has proven, the exact words we choose to repeat have a great effect on our behavior. When constructing a trigger-word or trigger-phrase, try to choose words that surround the constructive aspects of training. Focus on the moment in order to improve yourself and attain your goals.