Coaching Corner: Watch Your Language
- Tuesday, May 27, 2008
“With the fruit of a man’s mouth his stomach will be satisfied; He will be satisfied with the product of his lips.”
— Proverbs 18:20
Whenever I start coaching a new client, we launch our relationship with an extended “getting to know you” session in which I ask a lot of questions to learn about his or her values, passions, goals, and the obstacles that have historically gotten in the way of reaching them.
In that session, one of the questions I often ask is, “What are the top three or four things you find yourself consistently saying about your life?” It’s an important question for us to explore, because it helps us look past the circumstances (good or bad) to get a clearer view of the underlying beliefs and perspectives that are fueling his or her current experience of life. Some of the responses I typically hear include:
- “I’ll never find a husband (or wife).”
- “I am so blessed.”
- “I’m completely stressed out and overwhelmed.”
- “Great things are happening all the time!”
- “It’s all up to me.”
It’s a funny thing about the things we say under our breath … they often do more to shape our lives than any of the “smart” or “right” things we say when the spotlight is on and everyone is watching. “Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks,” said Jesus, and those quieter confessions we reserve for the bathroom mirror or the privacy of the car when we drive to work each day are often the more powerful, because they flow out of us in raw form, in those unedited moments when our hearts are closest to the surface.
I think it’s important—actually, I think it’s vital!—to pay attention to those off-the-cuff remarks we regularly make about our lives, because they can tell us a great deal about the underlying beliefs we’re holding onto that may be either moving us toward or holding us back from the abundant life that God intended us to have.
For example, let’s say you want more than anything to fall in love, get married and raise a family. It’s a common dream many of us share; and certainly, it reflects God’s desire for a great many, if not most of us. So you join in on social activities in your community, and at church. You take a class on finding a love worth keeping. You sign up on eHarmony. In short, you do everything you can think of to make yourself available to the possibility of relationship. So, good for you! But, every morning when you get up and look in the mirror to prepare for the day, there’s this deep part of you that sighs wearily at the whole endeavor and you regularly hear yourself mumble, “It’s never going to happen for me. Who am I kidding?”
An under-the-radar commentary like that, spilling from your heart on a consistent basis, can effectively blast all your good efforts to smithereens. Why? In part because, like our Maker in whose image we are made, our words have a certain amount of creative power. I’m certainly not advocating any notions of wishcraft simplistic “name it and claim it” theology, but Scripture does teach us that our words matter, and that what we say about ourselves and our lives does carry some power to impact our lives in very tangible ways. This principle is highlighted in several places throughout Proverbs, such as in Proverbs 18:20 and Proverbs 12:14. And it is in part why God admonishes us to “bless, and curse not” (Romans 12:14; and see James 3:6-10)—an admonition that includes, by the way, the mandate to bless and not curse ourselves.
But it isn’t just about the words, of course. It’s the belief behind them, the authentic disposition of the heart, that gives the words their power. Do you, for example, truly believe that “God will provide for me,” or do you just hope it’s true? Certainly, hope is better than nothing, but a confession from sure belief, founded on God’s infallible character and grace, has a certain inevitability to it. “Surely goodness and mercy will follow me all the days of my life,” spoken as a confident declaration of the heart, seems far more likely to become an experienced reality, than its more anemic cousin, “God? Bless my life? Yeah, I hope so.”
Take time this week to notice the things you regularly say about your life, both positive and negative. Collect them in a list, then bring each one to God and ask him to explore with you any underlying beliefs to which they may be pointing. Then use God’s Word as a filter to decide which beliefs you want to keep, and which ones you want to let go of for good.
Michael D. Warden is a Professional Co-Active Coach, nationally certified through the Coaches Training Institute, and a member of the International Coach Federation. Michael’s clients’ one common trait is their passion to live a bigger life—to discover what they're here for, and boldly go after that vision with confidence and authenticity. Find more on his life and work at ascentcoachinggroup.com.
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