"When we define difficult people and situations in terms of their effect on us (annoying, frustrating, irritating, and depressing) we give them the power to define us."
~ Bill Crawford

“When we define difficult people and situations in terms of their effect on us (annoying, frustrating, irritating, and depressing) we give them the power to define us.” ~ Bill Crawford

You Are So Annoying!

As I continue to look for ways to help people experience more happiness and success, the concept of how we describe our lives has become one of my favorites. The reason for this has to do with the power of language, and how we may be unwittingly using it against ourselves. For example, how many times have you heard people describe the negative situations that they encounter as frustrating, annoying, overwhelming, or even depressing? While these descriptions are understandable, I suggest that describing them based upon how they effect us (or “make us feel bad”) is giving the negative people and situations we encounter way more power than we want them to have.

In other words, while I’m sure that we have all felt frustrated, annoyed, overwhelmed, and even depressed at times, I’m also confident that most of us aren’t feeling this way on purpose, and probably would like to know to know how to change these reactions, or how to become more influential in how we experience the negative experiences that we encounter. If this is the case for you, I suggest that we begin by choosing language that supports this more influential perspective, because our language reflect our perceptions or beliefs, which, in term, effect our emotions and experience.

While having more influence over our experience of life is indeed a lifelong process, we can begin by paying attention to three little letters… “ing.” When we put this word ending on a description of an emotion or reaction (frustrating, annoying, overwhelming, depressing, etc.), we are describing it in terms of how it effects us or makes us feel, and therefore, we are, by definition, giving it a tremendous amount of power in our lives.

Now, there are times where we want to describe events or encounters in this way because we want the effect. For example, describing a speaker or book as inspiring or motivating, or an event as exciting. Given that the feelings (inspired, motivated, excited) are ones we want, this has us using language, and assigning influence in a way that serves us, or enriches the quality of our lives.

Of course, those who follow my “Life from the Top of the Mind” philosophy know that every stimuli whether internal or external is perceived or interpreted as either neutral, positive, or negative by the middle part of our brain (the limbic system). This interpretation then determines whether the data we receive from our senses will be routed down to the brainstem (releasing stress-related chemicals, such as, cortisol) or up to the neocortex, where we access our clarity, confidence, and creativity.

Therefore, I suggest that we begin to describe a particular situation in a more purposeful, “Top of the Mind” fashion, or in a way that is congruent with how we want to feel about it (confident, creative, flexible, patient, influential, etc.). This could have us seeing deadlines, traffic, a lack of time or resources, even difficult people as places to practice defining ourselves deliberately, or “on purpose,” in a way that we would recommend to someone we love. Given that we will most certainly experience these situations in the future, this willingness to practice can begin to create a new way of being where we are the ones determining how we feel and who we are.

If this more influential way of life appeals to you, I suggest that you become very purposeful with the “ing’s” in your life, and make sure that you are using these three little letters in ways that are effective, help you make the statement that you want to make about who you are, and are ways you would recommend to someone you love. In doing so, you will be taking charge of how you perceive and/or interpret the incoming data, and the thoughts and feelings that follow. Pretty inspiring, motivating, and exciting, don’t you think?

~ All the best, Dr. Bill