Words that Impede Recovery

Robert F.Mullen, PhD

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“Dr. Mullen is doing impressive work helping the world. He is the pioneer of proactive neuroplasticity utilizing DRNI – deliberate, repetitive, neural information.” – WeVoice (Madrid)

Words that Impede Recovery

“I believe that a negative statement is poison.
I’m convinced that the negative has power. It lives.
And if you allow it to perch in your house,
in your mind, in your life, it can take you over.”
— Maya Angelou

Words have enormous power; they influence, encourage, and destroy. They are a source of compassion, creativity, and courage. They evoke desire, emotion, fear, and despair. They lift our spirits, inspire our imagination, and plunge us into the depths of despair. 

We have three primary recovery objectives: To (1) replace or overwhelm our life-consistent negative thoughts and behaviors with healthy ones, (2) produce rapid, concentrated, neurological stimulation to change the polarity of our neural network, and (3) regenerate our self-esteem by regaining mindfulness of our attributes. Positivity is the catalyst for each.

Childhood disturbance prompts our negative core beliefs; our intermediate beliefs, influenced by SAD, establish the attitudes, rules, and assumptions that produce maladaptive understandings of the self and the world. Once again, attitudes refer to our emotions, convictions, and behaviors. Rules are the principles or regulations that influence our behaviors, and our assumptions are what we believe to be true or real. The common element is their toxic energy which we convey in the words we use.

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These core and intermediate beliefs generate a cognitive bias that compels us to misinterpret information and make irrational decisions. Since humans are hard-wired with a negative bias, we respond more favorably to adversity. Add our SAD symptomatology to this mix and our neural network is replete with toxic information.

We are consumed and conditioned by negative words. By the age of sixteen, we have heard the word no from our parents, roughly, 135,000 times. Some of us use the same unfortunate words over and over again. The more we hear, read, or speak a word or phrase, the more power it has over us. Our brain learns through repetition.

It is not just the words we say out loud in criticism and conversations. The self-annihilating words we silently call ourselves convince us we are helpless, hopeless, undesirable, and worthless. They cause our neural network to transmit chemical hormones that impair our logic, reasoning, and communication, impacting the parts of our brain that regulate our memory, concentration, and emotions. The illusory truth effect defines how, when we hear the same false information repeated again and again, we come to believe in its veracity. Telling ourselves, repeatedly, we are incompetent and unlikeable, and other forms of negative self-labeling has the same effect – even when we intellectually know that the misinformation is false.

Before recovery, our neural circuits are structured around emotionally hostile information. While positive words boost our self-esteem and self-image, contradictory words support our irrational attitudes, rules, and assumptions. Negative absolutes like no one, nobody, nothing, and nowhere substantiate our isolation and avoidance of relationships. Qualifiers such as barely, maybe, and perhaps invalidate our commitment, while self-beliefs expressed by can’t, shouldn’t, and won’t support our sense of incompetence.

There are three categories of words to be mindful of and eliminate from our thoughts and vocabulary: 

Pressure Words like should and would equivocate our commitment. “I should start my diet” essentially means, maybe I will and maybe I won’t. Pressure words give us permission to change our minds, procrastinate, and fail. (We are either on a diet or will be on a diet.) The pressure comes from the guilt of potentially doing nothing (I should’ve done that). Compare “I shouldn’t drink at the office party” to “I will not drink at the office party.” 

Negative Absolute Words. The impact of won’t and can’t is obvious. Our objective in recovery is to replace or overwhelm toxic with healthy neural information – positive over negative. Consider the two statements: “I won’t learn much from that lecture” and “I will learn something from that lecture.” Which one offers the probability we will attend? Negative absolute words include never, impossible, and every time. “Every time I try…”

Conditional Words like possibly, maybe, might weaken our commitment. “Maybe I will start my diet” is not a firm commitment. Conditional words originate in doubt and manifest in avoidance and procrastination. Other examples include ought, must, and have to. Qualifying or conditional words or statements give us an excuse to opt out. “I will not drink at the office party” is a more robust commitment than “I will not drink at the party unless I get nervous.” Qualifying or conditional words or statements are also pre-justifications for our failures. (I might have won if only … )  

A quick note about the word, hate. Hate is an extremely destructive sentiment to describe something we dislike. “I hate doing the dishes.” Do we really, or do we just dislike doing the dishes? Hate is an emotion; dislike is a feeling. Feelings quickly dissipate while emotions can metastasize. Psychologists argue hate has value in healing. I am less certain because it correlates to rage, resentment, and fear, feelings we seek to moderate. For those of us experiencing SAD, the word is detrimental to recovery.

It is important to recognize the harmful nature of these words and eliminate them from our self-referencing thoughts and vocabulary. They adversely impact the integrity and efficacy of our neural information which impedes recovery. 

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WHY IS YOUR SUPPORT SO IMPORTANT?  ReChanneling develops and implements programs to (1) moderate symptoms of emotional dysfunction and (2) pursue personal goals and objectives – harnessing our intrinsic aptitude for extraordinary living. Our paradigmatic approach targets the personality through empathy, collaboration, and program integration utilizing scientific and clinically practical methods including proactive neuroplasticity, cognitive-behavioral modification, positive psychology, and techniques designed to regenerate self-esteem. All donations support scholarships for groups, workshops, and practicums.  


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