Words Matter (part 3): What Are Your Tendencies?

I posted last year about the Tyranny of Self-Knowledge: the more we know about ourselves, the less room we leave for possibilities and discovery. But who wants to let go of all this self-knowledge we’ve built up?

How can I hold and appreciate my self-knowledge, and leave room for discovery and growth? Here’s a switch I’m playing with: rather than describing myself using “I am…” or “I always…”, I’m starting to use the words “tend” and “tendency”.

For example, instead of saying “I take on too much” (as if it is a fixed fact), I say, “I tend to take on too much.” Now that I’ve labelled it as a tendency, I also realize that it’s something I can choose not to do. It doesn’t have to be my identity to take on too much. It’s just something I tend to do, and I could decide to tend to do something else.

Another example: “I get overwhelmed.” If I change that to “I tend to get overwhelmed”, then I can now work with a spectrum – a spectrum of tending towards overwhelm or away from overwhelm. No longer is it “overwhelmed” or “not overwhelmed” – it’s a tendency I can lean towards or away from.

I invite you to pick something you *know* about yourself, and to restate it this week as a tendency. What changes for you?

Hat-tip to one of the many amazing Co-Active Coaching leaders who emphasized this language switch.
I can’t help it. I have near-majors in linguistics and psychology. You can see previous Words Matter posts here and here.