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Getting from Wanting to Having

Using language for leverage

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Her Words Came Out in a Muddle by Julie Liger-Belair

A lot of people come to see me when they are in a state of Want: wanting a relationship, wanting to communicate better, wanting to trust their partner. One client consistently broke down in tears in my office, lamenting his life with the mantra “I can’t have what I want.” After hearing that for the umpteenth time, a light bulb went off inside me: Naturally, he can’t have what he wants; no one can. Language makes that impossible. Part of my job is to help clients understand how their words affect their choices, and vice versa. I believe that changing the words we use—and thus more consciously choosing them—can create subtle leverage in moving out of a predicament and toward possibility. Here is a list of words we commonly invoke and ways to think about them more deeply. Want: Embedded in this popular word is a state of longing, of not having. Implicit is a sense of deficiency and a belief that what we desire is “out there” somewhere. This may be the hallmark of ego-driven thinking. The ever-vigilant ego is always wanting something: mainly power, approval, security. Wanting is the language o …

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