We all know that words are powerful. The right word at the right time has the power to build us up or tear us down. A word of kindness from a beloved, a word of criticism – these can reach us to our core. How important it is, then, to consider the power of language in the presence of pregnancy, labor, and birth.
The words we choose can be used to claim our power, or give it away. We can use words to tap into our inner strength, or deny that we have any strength at all. The act of transforming our daily language in small ways has a huge effect on our birth experience. With that in mind, there are a few common words that I invite birthing women and their companions to consider changing.
1) CAN’T: The woman who chants “I can’t, I can’t, I can’t'” may prove herself to be absolutely right. We can do most things we set our minds to. Consider, instead, the power of speaking from a place of choice. “I choose to…” or “I choose not to…” “It is in my best interest to”, rather than “I can’t do…” We have the power to make our own choices.
2) HAVE TO: “I don’t like my sister, but I have to have her in the room because…” Actually, no. There are no “have to’s”. Choose to, or choose not to. It’s your own decision. Own it.
3) SHOULD: We often give away our power due to what we “should” do. These are the places where we have allowed someone else’s judgement, an external story, take away our power to think for ourselves. Believe it or not, there are no “Should Police” who will come knocking at our doors to carry us away for not doing as we should. Doing as we should does very little to make anyone feel empowered or happy. Consider, instead, the power of voicing our preferences. “I would prefer to” or “I would prefer not to.” There are no shoulds.
4) TRY: Yoda said it best. “Do, or do not. There is no try.” “I am preparing for a natural birth.” “It is my intention to breastfeed.” Or, a powerful word in and of itself, “DESIRE”. “I desire to have a positive birth experience!” carries far more power than “I’m going to try.”
5) I DON’T KNOW: When this statement is used as the end-all, it denies the opportunity for learning to happen. “I don’t know” is not the end of a conversation, but the beginning of an opportunity. “I don’t know, AND I WILL FIND OUT” allows for a completely different experience. As an expression of self-doubt, “I don’t know if I can…” limits the possibility that can come from a place of belief. Consider, instead, the power of “I believe it is possible”, and “I am willing to learn how to”.
When we change our words, we change our lives!
Where are you choosing words that create limits, or give away your power? Where has choosing empowering words made a difference for you? I’d love to hear your experiences.