My shocking discovery that modal operators never lie…
In coaching school, I learned that certain sneaky words (we call them modal operators) speak volumes about how you do what you do.
Words like “I’d love to, I want to, I choose to, I will, I can, I will, I won’t” all show that a person is doing something out of their own inner conviction.
Using those words generally leads to a strong, happy, energetic way of doing things.
As opposed to words like “I have to, I should, I ought to, I’d better, I’ll try, I must, I can’t because (followed by an excuse)” which show that a person is looking to an outside authority to determine their behavior.
Using these words tends to lead to feeling deflated, life-sucking, low-energy, potentially resentful ways of doing things.
I was a bit skeptical that such tiny words could actually have such energetic power, and so I started an experiment. I listened for them and paid attention to my own energy levels and that of others when we used those words.
I remember my surprise when I overheard a friend say, “I’m sorry. I can’t speak at that event. I would love to, but I have to go to my daughter’s wedding that day.”
Aha!! This clearly disproved the theory that we do what we love and what we choose with a lot of energy and do what we have to with less energy. Of course, we do speaking engagements because we “have to” and go to a daughter’s wedding because we “love to”! Aha! Theory debunked.
Until I asked my friend, “Is there something about your daughter’s wedding that’s not joyful to you?”
He replied, “I can’t believe you asked that. I believe that she is being abused by her fiancé. I’ve tried to stop the wedding and I’m only going, dragging my feet, because I want my daughter to keep a relationship with me when she needs to be rescued.”
Hmmmmmmm… So, maybe there is truth in these little filler words. They are called “modal operators” - the words that tell you HOW you’re doing what you’re doing.
So, pay attention to them.
If you find yourself in a situation, for example, where you are being asked for a financial contribution for something you’re not interested in, and you use the excuse “I can’t afford it”, how are you unintentionally creating lack and limitation in your life?
Making excuses, pretending not to feel what you feel, false statements and white lies like pretending to not feel well, answering to societal norms over and over throughout the day. It’s all a way of living that diminishes bravery.
See what happens when you choose language and behavior that shows real commitment to your priorities, responsibility for your choices, and a willingness to communicate honestly to others.
I’m willing to bet the farm (I don't actually own a farm yet, so I'm not risking all that much, but still) that you’ll have much more energy to dedicate to all the things you love. Enjoy! And let me know what you notice when you choose to stop "shoulding" on yourself and start acting more and more out of love and real alignment with your values.