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The shape of language has an enormous impact on our thinking, and downstream from there, our thinking has an enormous impact on our behavior.  The language that we use, especially with ourselves ultimately has a large influence on our behavior. 



Much of what people say is really in order to hear what they actually think about a given topic.  This is the forgivable drive behind the pervasive problem that we all experience in conversation when someone fails to listen with the intent to understand; most people are simply waiting for their turn to speak in order to further explore what they actually think about a given topic.  We are, in some sense curiously eager to find out more about who we find ourselves to be.  While this can be funneled into an extremely productive behavior, like with writing, the times when we engage in such exploration are often misplaced and plopped in the spots of life when we should be outwardly focused and listening to that loved one or colleague or stranger.


Getting this placement of listening versus talking to discover one’s own thoughts creates an enormous opportunity with regards to our network.  To effectively indicate to a person that you’ve listened is to gain trust and kinship, regardless of how much we might differ in terms of ideas.



The shape of language, however, has an extended effect where the component of behavior is heavily influenced. 


What we say, and how we say it is always something that we ourselves hear.  This is obvious, but the implications are not.  We hear what we say , but then we act in accordance to what we’ve heard.


We are constantly trying to achieve something in line with a consistent fabric of personality, so if we hear ourselves say something like,


I can’t draw.


Then we are likely to believe it.   Since we understand it as a fact about ourselves that comes from a source that is the most reliable from an emotional standpoint, (i.e. ourselves), we are furthermore very unlikely to actually try and draw.


Attempting to prove ourselves wrong about a given belief regarding who we are is counter to our fabric of consistency, but it is a relative superpower when it comes to levelling-up among a sea of people who are holding themselves back through the shape of the language upon which their thinking and their behavior operates.


Using the word Yet at the end of such limiting statements flips their meaning and actually propels us against who we find ourselves to be currently.  Episode 100 of Tinkered Thinking explores this word-hack in depth.


But the shape of language extends far beyond this single example.  The way we word problems that we try to solve also has a substantial impact on whether or not we are likely to find a solution.  The questions that we can effectively pose against the way we word such problems can ultimately crack any limiting structures that we ourselves have built.


Single words often contain whole extended narratives that have influences on our behavior in seemingly backchannel ways, and in these cases the way we describe and build our identity with such words often works more as a prison as opposed to a springboard towards an improved personal agency.


This is why it’s wise to keep one’s identity small and to always be aware of the dangers of identity.  The language that surrounds identity is often very rigid by default and lacks the fluidity that would otherwise allow a person to change their thinking and behavior and ultimately the situation of life in which they find themselves.


Moving aside all of these negatives with regards to the shape of language, we might wonder about the flip of such curiosities. 


What shapes can we create with language that form –not prison cells, but ships that can enable us to set sail, wings that can give us the ability to fly, and rocket ships that we can use to explore totally alien worlds of thought, action and achievement?


The truth is, everything people say is fairly honest.  Even the liars are speaking in perfect accordance with who they are, and if we listen carefully, nothing anyone says should ever be all that surprising.


This applies most poignantly to the one person we listen to the closest and the most:


Our own self.


Take care with the way you build words.  They inevitably build who you are.




This episode references Episode 100:  Yet, a Way out of the Box, Episode 17: The Identity Danger, and Episode 165: Set Sail

Check out the Tinkered Thinking   Reading List

Dive in to the Archives

Podcast Ep. 384: The Shape of Language

Tinkered Thinking

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