Our Language Shapes Our Life

I was listening to an interview last night with Baron Baptiste. He is the founder of the Baptiste Vinyasa Yoga school, the author of several books and was on the NFL’s Philadelphia Eagles Coaching Staff. In the interview he said something that I believe we can all remember. (I paraphrase):

Our language shapes our world. The phrase, “I want to…” is different than the phrase, “I am ready to…”

What strikes me as a student of communication is how much time we spend working on how we communicate with others. As a sales professional I have learned how to communicate and question in such a way as to earn trust and to help the buyer determine their best solution while representing the very best of my firm.  I remember learning from one of my first sales leaders, Bob Danberger, the difference between closing a letter with the phrase, “We are anxious to hear from you;” and the phrase, “We are eagerly awaiting your response”.  It is the same general intent but different interpretations.

What we often don’t spend much time doing is managing the communication with ourselves – that is, what are we saying to ourselves about ourselves? What we say to our selves today can color our response tomorrow.

Don Miguel Ruiz in his book The Four Agreements says,

“Whenever we hear an opinion and believe it, we make an agreement, and it becomes part of our belief system.”

When we were kids we may have heard the opinion,

–    “You are not athletic enough”
–    “You aren’t the smartest kid in school”
–    “Why can’t you get A’s like Billy”

You get the idea. When we accept those into our belief systems we lose control over our future.

An alternative is to recognize what beliefs may be holding you back and then changing those beliefs.  When I was a kid, I hated sports. I played them and I sucked. Baseball, Basketball, Football it was bad. I resigned myself to the fact I was not athletic, I did not like sports, and that was just the way of the world.

Then I had to take a Phys. Ed Credit in College and I took Tae Kwon Do. I spent the next 18 years earning a Black Belt, winning medals and exploring several other martial arts and today I am in better shape than I ever was in high school. I caught the fitness bug, and today fitness is a part of my identity.


  1. Baptiste and Ruiz – two of my favorite wordsmiths. Baptiste’s JOURNEY INTO POWER made me rethink my beliefs about personal power soon after it came out. Isn’t it wonderful how our own self-chosen labels can turn us into a completely different person in our own eyes?

  2. Dixie,

    It is wonderful and I find that it is goof for me to remember this rather than getting lazy with my word so to speak.

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