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Sticks and Stones...

"Sticks and stone may break my bones

but words will never harm me"

Do you remember reciting "sticks and stones..." when battling being hurt by cruel words on the playground? I do.

The truth is words can and do harm people, which is why in therapeutic work, the first challenge in bringing about change can be to define thoughts or limiting beliefs by assessing the meaning people are making about the challenging situations they encounter. I do this by asking questions of "semantic precision".

For example, if a client tells me a situation they are facing is awful and should be different we spend time exploring what that means.

Often it is our sweeping generalisations and imprecise use of our words that add heat to our feelings. Making things much worse than they are.

Next time you feel the punch of pressure or stress try examining your thoughts and beliefs about the situation in terms of the language that you use... is it really awful? Can you tolerate it? Ultimately you will find that being more accurate in the language you use to describe your reality takes some essential heat out of that pressure that you're feeling.

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