The limits of my language mean the limits of my world
Ludwig Wittgenstein famously wrote: ‘The limits of my language mean the limits of my world.’ Now, you’re probably thinking I’ve lost the plot quoting early 20th century philosophy on a fitness blog, but give me a second… Wittgenstein’s argument was that all problems are simply problems of language; nothing more. Once you sort out the language, you have solved the problem. And I think that has a powerful correlate in the realm of health and fitness.
Every problem you have in the gym, with your lifestyle or diet begins as a problem with the language you use to talk to yourself. The language you use to think controls what you believe. And what you believe controls the way that you act.
For example, if you say to yourself: ‘I don’t have time for the gym’ then what you believe is that you don’t have control over whether or not you can train which in turn means you believe that you don’t have control over your own fitness, health, weight and so on. Most people subtly undermine their own power to act and change circumstances by inadvertently using language that disempowers them.
Using the language of choice to empower
What I am saying is that you need to look first at the words you are using in your own thinking before you look at anything else. How often have we all said things like the following?
‘I’ve been too busy to prepare healthy food’
‘I was too tired from work to go to the gym’
‘I’ve been too stressed and anxious to think about my diet recently’
‘I don’t have time to mediate’
‘I have too may social engagements to commit to a proper programme’
‘By the time I’ve finished training I don’t have time to stretch’
And so on. Speaking personally, there are two things I’ve been trying to do this year that I have failed miserably at: to meditate regularly and to do a couple of hours of maths problems each week (don’t ask why). I still find it incredibly tempting to say something like the following: ‘This year has been crazy. The business has been growing rapidly, we have loads of new members and lots of projects in the pipeline. It’s just been too mad to fit anything else in’.
No. This won’t do. Everyone is busy. I would imagine many people are far more pressed for time than me. So what can I say instead? I suggest you use the language of choice whenever you are tempted to divest yourself of blame.
In other words, I now say to myself, ‘So far this year I have chosen not to make the time for meditating and maths. But I resolve to choose to make time for these things in the future’.
This language has two very powerful effects:
- It makes me entirely responsible for my actions and for the consequences of my action or inaction.
- It gives me power over my own actions and the capacity to change my own future.
Much like the way a measurable lifestyle brings you increased awareness of your own habits, this language has the effect of making us consciously aware of where we are falling to act consistently with the future we say we want.
This is a big shift in the way most people think. And I would encourage you to use this language whenever you are tempted to shift blame away from yourself for your own inaction. You didn’t call your mum? You didn’t arrange anything for you and your spouse on your anniversary? You didn’t save any money for your retirement? Guess what? These were all choices and they all come down to you and you alone.
When it comes to fitness, take ownership of your situation now. Resolve to use the language of choice both to make yourself aware of where you are slipping up and to invest in yourself the power to shape your future.
‘My body is my doing and my doing alone. If my health and fitness are not where I want them to be it because I have made poor choices in the past. I now resolve to make better choices that will lead me towards the future I want. I will only make choices that support my health, fitness and happiness. Nothing can stop me and nothing can get me there but me.’
Changing your language costs nothing and you can start doing it RIGHT NOW. The limits of our language are the limits of our worlds. Don’t imprison yourself in a world in which you can never achieve health and happiness simply because you use the wrong words. Language is everything.
Any questions? Email me your thoughts here
For more posts like this one, check out the rest of the blog here
Book a trial class with us here