After a little research, I believe Morrie is practicing this "neuroscience of words"—purposefully priming his patients' subconscious minds with positive language to serve as an inner-strength training program of sorts!
NLP is a pretty amazing phenomenon. In 2000, researcher John Bargh set up the now-famous study that showed how our linguistic context strongly affects our behavior. Bargh gave two different groups of people two different lists of words to unjumble, telling them they were being tested on simple problem solving.
The first list contained words suggesting impatience, rudeness and aggressiveness; the second list had words suggesting patience, politeness and calm. After the test was completed, the participants were asked to bring their lists to an administrator who was deep in conversation with a colleague—setting up the true experiment.
All the participants given the list of words suggesting rudeness and aggressiveness became those exact words—angrily interrupting the administrator. However, of the participants primed with language suggesting patience and calm 82 percent never interrupted the administrator at all. The lesson to be learned? The words we use and hear are powerful!
If you're bouncing back from a challenging time, it's essential to become aware to not dwell on the pain of what you are going through. Instead, consciously pepper your conversations, therapy sessions and journal writing with strong, uplifting, optimistic words that will keep you aimed in a strong, positive, healing direction!
"After you've been through a trauma or a large loss, assume people won't be good listeners," warns Dr. Al Siebert, director of Portland, Oregon's Resiliency Center and author of The Resiliency Advantage. According to Siebert, the average person will listen to you talk about your ordeal for one to two minutes tops, before they want to get away or they interrupt you with their opinion. This can be really hurtful and emotionally stressful when you're feeling vulnerable.
Siebert suggests you protect your spirit by constructing some boundaries and an "elevator pitch" of your story—a quick, one-minute answer. With this in mind, it's helpful to take some time to consciously jot down what you want your elevator pitch to include so you're prepared when people ask. Try to use neutral or positive language so you don't keep reliving your pain. Be sure to put a positive "kicker" at the end. For example: "Yes, I've been through a horrible time, but I'm handling it okay. How about you? Have you ever been through anything like this?" Requesting empathy makes it less likely that your listener's response will hurt or disappoint you.
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