Permissive Language and Changing The Negative Focus

How often do we find ourselves using phrases like: “I’ll try”, and “If I do this then…”? Without even knowing that we are doing it, we use negative or restrictive phrases every day. These types of words or word combinations subconsciously work to facilitate the negative thoughts in our heads. When we “try” to do something, subconsciously there is the thought in the back of our head that we won’t succeed. When we use the word “if”, we automatically think “if not”.

One of the goals when starting therapy with clients is to work on changing this negative focus that often comes with them. One of the ways that this can be accomplished is by changing the words that are used. By understanding the permissive language, we change the way that we interpret ideas, and this, in turn, changes the way we feel. In order for us to feel hope, and allow ourselves the possibility of change we first get rid of negative language and work on positive and permissive. Here are a couple of phrases to work on changing: If into Then, Try into Do, and adding words like allow, notice, invite, and other open-ended words.

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When you allow yourself to imagine the possibilities, who knows what your wonderful brain will come up with. I invite you to do this for a day, a week and see the changes that occur not only in your own mind but in your body and soul.

A famous little green man once said: “do, or do not, there is no try”. It is interesting that we are only now starting to understand the impact of these words…


If you think you could use the help of a counselor in St. Paul MN don’t hesitate to contact Ben Wolf today!