What you say MATTERS!


I don't beats I Can't. Image Credit: ÖZGÜR DONMAZ istockphoto

I recently read an article summary titled “I Don’t” Beats “I Can’t” for self control. The study “examined the effect of different wording when using self-talk to resist temptation. When participants framed a refusal as “I don't” (for instance, “I don't eat sugar”) instead of “I can't,” they were more successful at resisting the desire to eat unhealthy foods or skip the gym.”  This drives home a message I have been preaching for years.   Saying “I don’t” promotes empowerment while saying “I can’t” seems to carry an idea and feeling of “it’s not within my power to control”.    Living healthy IS in YOUR power to CONTROL! It is all about choices, everyday, several times a day, choices about what we eat, how we exercise and how we take care of ourselves. There is always a choice. When we rely on willpower or blame someone else or something else (a diet program, eating ‘rules’) we take away our power.   Think about and picture a lunch scenario- you are out to lunch with co-workers or friends, the menu arrives and you immediately start thinking about and picturing all the things you “can’t” have.   Does a rebellious, long thought suppressed adolescent spirit suddenly arise, do you start arguing or rationalizing with yourself about how you “could” have those items you immediately told yourself were off limits?   The word “can’t” for me conjures some anxiety about decisions and I feel out of control and start wasting energy on convincing myself why and how I “can”.   I feel sad and deprived.  Feeling deprived in any weight loss scenario is bad news!

Okay, lets try this again.  Same scenario, now substitute “I don’t eat these menu items so I can reach my goals” for the “I can’t”.  Notice and feel the difference.   I feel empowered, in control and responsible for my decisions.    Yes, I like that much better.

What you say to yourself and the words you use about and during a transition to living healthier DO matter.   Choose your words wisely and choose empowerment over willpower.

For more information on the article, visit

http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=i-dont-beats-i-cant-for-self-control&WT.mc_id=SA_CAT_MB_20130103

 

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