Limiting Language Patterns, LLP, is a way of speaking about ourselves, others, and the world that by its very nature limits what is possible either through negativity or confusion, or both. It can fragment us, deluding our power of manifestation and our ability to take responsibility for our own lives. It also limits others and the world around us, for it prevents us from perceiving people and the world around us accurately. Ultimately, it keeps us stuck and unable to intentionally author the lives we truly want.
Power Language, PL, on the other hand, is a direct, clear, and concise way of speaking that tells our brain exactly what it is we mean as succinctly as possible. It is either positive or neutral. When we use power language, we have a palpable, direct connection with the words we use, which powerfully assists us to create the reality we truly want.
Consider these Metaphors and Similes below:
- “It is as if a stiff breeze could push me over.”
- “I’m a fireball of emotion.”
- “I feel as happy as a clam.”
Although using metaphors and similes can be very poetic, when it comes to accessing clarity and focus to manifest the lives we truly want, they can be diluting and confusing. Using metaphors and similes to describe how we are experiencing something is incredibly indirect and fails to say concisely what it is we are experiencing. It gives the brain an indirect, unclear idea of what is happening or the cause of it. This makes it challenging to take responsibility and transform it, if unwelcomed, or embrace it fully if welcomed. Thus, it deludes our power of manifestation.
In the first example, what is she saying with, “it is as if a stiff breeze could push me over”? When the second person says, “I’m a fireball of emotion,” what is he experiencing? When the third person says, “I feel as happy as a clam,” what does she mean exactly? The answer is, I don’t know, and chances are, the clients who use these metaphors and similes are also unclear. Thus, this way of speaking is confusing. As a coach, if I assume I understand what a metaphor or simile means without asking for clarity, I could accidentally and dangerously lead clients down roads they do not want to go.
In addition to the above examples, the most popular use of simile I hear from my clients, again and again, is the use of like before a feeling word. Consider the differences between the following examples:
- “I feel like I’m sad,” to, “I feel sad.”
- “I feel like he’s so angry,” to, “I feel he’s so angry.”
- “I feel like I’m too emotional,” to, “I feel too emotional.”
- “I feel like we are always fighting,” to, “We’re often fighting.”
The first LLP in this list deludes the experience and disconnects the client from the direct, palpable feeling of sadness. The alternative PL directly connects the client to the feeling of what is being said, “I feel sad.” Due to the direct, concise, alternate way of speaking, the client can then decide if what he/she is saying is actually accurate. If not, he/she can make a correction. In the last statement, “I feel like we are always fighting” is likely inaccurate. If she tells her brain again and again that she is always fighting, she may be more likely to recreate the fighting or feel stuck in it. Instead, if she were to use the alternative PL, she then creates an opportunity to see the situation clearly as well as an opening to work with it as it actually occurs. This is power in action.
To encourage direct, clear PL from my clients, I may simply state the metaphor or simile back to them exactly as they said it and ask them for clarity. I may say, “what do you mean by ‘it's as if a stiff breeze could knock me over’?” A foundational aspect of Reflective Questioning is to keep the statement exactly as it was said because I trust that my client understands what she is attempting to convey even if I am unclear. If I change her wording, even slightly, I could confuse her or change her train of thought. She could lose where she was and that could delay her process of finding her answers or worse, lead her away from them completely. As a Reflective Questioning facilitator, my job is to get out of the way.
Every now and again, I will experience some pushback from clients such as, “but I just told you,” and to that, I often counter with something like, “if 5 people used that same metaphor, they might refer to 5 different things. I do not want to assume I know, can you help me?” This gentle, humble language usually works to soften the exchange and continue with the coaching. If the metaphors and similes persist, I often have my clients close their eyes and “listen into” the direct, PL way of speaking versus the LLP way they originally offered. That empowers them to directly experience the subtle yet profound difference between the two and choose for themselves.
The incredible benefits of these slight adjustments are paramount. It gives clients an opportunity to refine their words, making sure they say what they mean. It also assists them to take responsibility for themselves and their feelings as accurately as possible. It is through this accuracy and clarity that confusion melts away and manifestation is possible.