Wednesday, 1 June 2022

Erase 5 words from your vocabulary to transform your life.

“Whether you think you can or you think you can't you're right”.

 Henry Ford


What we believe becomes!  


You might even recognise some of your limiting beliefs.

 But if you listen to the language you use every day, in general conversation, with others or your internal monologues (Yes! We all have a chatterbox in our head), you will discover a lot more about how language is affecting you and what you believe.

When, as a teenager, I picked up Scott Peck's book; ‘The road less travelled’, and read the first line of part one: “life is difficult”; I thought “You're not kidding”.

Although I agreed with the statement, as that was the way I felt at the time, I decided I did not want the rest of my life to be like that. 

I saw no reason why it should be that way. Foolish of me may be, I made it my mission to find ways of making life easier for myself and others.

Along the way, I discovered two things about the impact language has on us.

-      Firstly, the words we use give us an insight into the way we think, believe and respond to the world.

-      Secondly, when change the vocabulary we use, how we perceive what is happening and what we create in our lives changes almost without effort.

So, if like me, you would like an easier and better life, here are five words, you probably use on a regular basis, which you can erase from your vocabulary. 

 Find out what you can replace them with and begin to transform your life.

 The first thought you might have is: OK I'll try and see what happens.

1) Try

 Actually if you do say that, nothing will happen!  Next you might think OK then ‘if at first I don't succeed try, try and try again! 

 That won’t help you either, because “TRY” is the first word to delete from your vocabulary.

 What the expression fails to convey is, if you don't succeed, consider what you might need to change and see if it works any better. 

Picture of bridge with Einstein's quote about insanity
 Otherwise you will be modelling Einstein’s definition of insanity: 
 “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different outcome”.

 Try implies failure. 

 As you realise if I said: ‘I tried to learn to drive’, you know full well I didn’t pass my test and probably had more than one go!

 Try also implies effort. Effort is hard work and causes tension in the body, thus making your life more difficult.

 Neither failure nor effort are helpful if you want an easier or better life.  So you can use words such as explore, investigate, play, taste, see if... instead. 


2) Don’t 

 Secondly, have you ever told yourself: “DON'T FORGET XYZ” and then realized you did forget it?

 This is normal. 

 The brain can’t recognize a negative statement. 

 If I say to you, “don't think of a pink elephant”, you had to think of the pink elephant to recognise what it was you were not meant to be thinking about. At that point it’s too late, you have thought of it.

 So any phrases that begin with don't followed by an action tend not to get the desired reaction.

 Don't forget...can be changed to remember.

 For something like “don't run” etc, describe what you to see happen, in this case walk. Don't scream could become: speak more quietly, and so on.

3) Should 

 SHOULD” is the next word that creates difficulty in our life. It prevents us from experiencing the world as it truly is.

 Whether you think something should or shouldn't have happened, the reality is, it did! 

 Only when we accept the reality as it is, can we begin to move forward and get on, otherwise as I recall in Red Dwarf, Kryten said to Rimmer; “you're living in an unreality bubble Sir!”

 We use should (or shouldn’t) when people, (or things) don’t behave in the way we want them to - including ourselves.

 Even if we don't realise it, they have their reasons for behaving the way they do.  

It's generally unconscious on the part of the human - always deliberate on the part of an object or animal of course ;-).  

 Expecting the world to behave other than the way it does, is as Byron Katie puts it like expecting a cat to bark!

 If you think you SHOULD do something, whose ‘voice’ is that?  

 Yes! It might be the one in your head, but who is it that initially gave you the idea of what was correct or not?  

 Is it the media, a parent, a teacher, or a boss may be?  

 Should, means there's an internal desire to conform to an external pressure or request. If we believe the statement to be true we end up feeling guilty.

 Who said that request is actually right for you in that environment?  

For example in the UK it is not considered polite to eat with our fingers, yet in India it is, (as long as it’s not the left one!). So who is right?

 Consider using the word ‘choose’ to do or not do something instead. 

 This puts the onus on you to take responsibility for your actions, rather than feeling you don't have much of a choice or that you only do it for fear of punishment if you don't.


 4) The fourth word is: Why.

 You may be familiar with Simon Sinek’s ‘Find your why’ and how powerful that can be.  

 However, asking someone WHY they have done something tends to switches their brain off.  

 When kids ask their parents “why this, why that...” often the answer is simply ‘because I say so’ with no further explanation.  

 It is difficult to find an answer at such times, because it is usually more than one thing that determines the reason why something is the way it is, or why someone does something. 

 A certain set of circumstances might need to come together at exactly the right time to make it happen, just like rainbows.

 Instead ask various questions starting with what, where, when and how.  

 These are more likely to give you an insight into what was going on in the person's brain, at the time they took the action, and find a way to get a more satisfactory outcome for both parties.

 My husband kept asking “Why do you keep leaving drawers open?  Why don’t you just shut them?”

 Had I merely responded to the ‘why’, my answer would have been ‘because I did, why? ’ His answer to ‘why’ would have been because he wants to know! 

 Neither particularly helpful to being able to understand each other.

 Being asked why also made me feel like I was wrong, when I didn’t think I was doing anything wrong. It implies a ‘should’ as mentioned above.

 What I was thinking was, “It would save me time having to shut it and open it again, now he wants me to waste my time.”

 That made me less willing to want to shut the drawer. 

 So, instead of just asking why, I asked him what his issue was with it being open. 

 He shared his concern that he might not realise it was open and hurt himself.  An amicable short discussion followed sharing our thought on the matter. 

 I am not entirely sure what changed, whether he has not seen me leave drawers open but he hasn’t asked me to shut a drawer since and I am not sure I always shut them!


 5 Hard/ difficult

 Take a moment to close your eyes and think about things that you find hard or difficult.  

 Notice what that does to your energy levels, your enthusiasm, your confidence, and desire to do them. 

 When you feel this way, rather than focus on how something is hard or difficult ask yourself:  

  • What could be easier?  
  • What could be softer?
  • How can I make this more fun?

 Listen for the answers and ideas you come up with. Implement them and see what happens.

As you become more aware of the language you’re using, you’ll begin to hear phrases such as:

  • somebody or something is a pain in the neck, 
  • put your back in it, 
  • you had a gut feeling, 
  • it broke my hearted
  • ... 

All of these types of phrases are the ones I listen out for with clients.  

They give me clues as to the deeper reasons they experience pain in a particular area of their body or feel the way they do. 

 Helping me understand how they are experiencing the world. Reflecting that back to them and exploring how they learned to perceive the world that way helps them heal and make their life easier.

Enjoy listening to yourself and others and don't forget why you shouldn't try hard!

Oops! I really mean: Remember when you can choose to explore an easier life!

Our brain believes everything we say and so this becomes our reality. Make sure it is one you actually want!

Until next time, BE WELL 

Julie Nicholls Body~Mind Coach  LCSP(Phys), IEMT, former RGN Tel: 01793 495551

To book a taster session:

This post contains Amazon links for which I may get a small commission if you purchase through the link.

Tuesday, 31 May 2022

5 Myths to take your breath away!

 Did you know Oxygen can kill you?

There’s a lot of information around about breathing – and much of it is inaccurate and unhelpful. So, in this article I’m going to bust some breathing myths!  Then, with myths busted, I’ll help you work out the quality of your own breathing and give you some techniques to breath in a way that is helpful to your health rather than damaging it!

 5 Breathing myths busted

 If you would rather you can watch a video where I share these 5 myths for Swindon Speakers club.

Myth No 1

So often I’ve heard yoga or meditation teachers say: ‘Begin by focusing on your breathing. You don’t have to change it.’ 

person sitting in lotus Yoga pose  doing a breathing practiceYet, it’s impossible for us to think about our breathing and it not change.  The simple act of awareness changes everything and that goes well beyond breathing, but let’s not get into quantum stuff! 

Breathing is a reflex like our heart beating and our digestion (thank goodness for that or we would all be dead by now!) Our breathing rate changes automatically depending on the physical needs of the body – increases if we are running for example and slows down when sleeping.

Heart rate and digestion although affected by our state of mind / our stress levels, simply thinking about slowing or speeding our heart or digestion has little noticeable effect. However our breath is the one reflex we are able to control easily.  I share how to make it more effective at the end. The simple act of thinking about your breathing changes it!

So that’s one breathing myth busted already and I’ve hardly got started. 


Myth No 2

It’s often said that we can’t survive for more than three minutes without breathing.

Yet the record for breath-holding is 24.03 min –and I’ve no idea how that’s possible either!  It does take practice but this demonstrates that it is possible!  There are also plenty of stories of people who have been in accidents and stop breathing for well over 3 min and unexpectedly survive unharmed to the amazement of the medical profession.


Myth No 3

Oxygen is the all-important gas in breathing and CO2 is a waste gas.

When I trained as I nurse we were told: under no circumstances increase the level of oxygen, given to an asthmatic, without a doctor’s permission.  Why? Because you’ll KILL them!  Yes that’s right too much Oxygen will kill you!

I know this is hard to grasp but, the crucial element in the act of breathing, is CO2. Yes, we depend on oxygen for life, but it’s an increase in carbon dioxide in our blood stream, rather than the lack of oxygen, that triggers our breathing reflex. CO2 then, is crucial not simply a waste gas.
For more on why carbon dioxide is not a waste gas.


Myth No 4

The following symptoms denote stress don’t they?

Breathlessness, excessive sighing, palpitation (rapid, strong and/or irregular heartbeat), cold hands and feet, muscle pains, dizziness, exhaustion, lethargy (lack of energy and enthusiasm), anxiety, sleep disturbance, increased blood pressure, headache, disturbed concentration and memory. 

Well no. They don’t. According to Russian scientist, Professor Buteyko, these are a mere few of the many symptoms of chronic hyperventilation.  What does that mean?  O2/Co2 balance in our blood, alters the pH of our blood, creating an overly acidic system.  This is a key component of the inflammation process which leads to many chronic problems.

As we’ve seen, for our body to work well it needs CO2 as much as oxygen.  What we think is stress and hard to control turns out to be symptoms of hyperventilation, which is much easier to control!

Myth No 5

Taking deep breaths helps when you’re stressed.

As mentioned in myth No 1, thinking of your breathing rather than the thing that is causing you to get anxious is helpful but not deep breathing per se. It will serve only to exacerbate the problems associated with hyperventilation mentioned above. The key is to focus on a slow out breath, not the in breath.


Improving breathing quality

1) Take a full relaxed breath (through your nose) and note the depth and quality of your breath on a 1 to 10 scale.

Notice if it’s more difficult to breathe in or out.

 2) Clench your buttocks and repeat point 1.  How did the tightness affect your score?

 3) Now, tighten your shoulders by shrugging them or squeezing them together in your back and breathe. What is your score now?

Release and notice what is different about your breathing now.  Note, where is it on the scale 1 to 10 now?


 Breathing Techniques


 A) The control pause

Measure your breathing health and unblock your nose

To measure your control pause, sit in a comfortable position in an upright chair, relax and breathe out. Then breathe in normally and out again, holding your nose after the out breath.

Using a stopwatch, count how many seconds you can hold your breath, until you feel the need to breathe in again. Then, breathe in through your nose without gulping air.

The number of seconds you counted, before breathing in, gives you your control pause.

The ideal control pause is sixty seconds, but a control pause of forty to sixty denotes good health.

A control pause of thirty or less means you’re breathing enough for at least two people will probably have some of the symptoms of hyperventilation on a regular basis.

B) Square breathing

Square breathing also known as (box breathing), is a simple practice you can use any time in the day.  You can do it anywhere – sitting in traffic, waiting for someone or for any form of transport.


Square window with view out to sea and clouds in blue sky

  It’s especially good to use first thing in the morning and last thing at night.  It helps unblock your nose as does the control pause mentioned above.

  I teach this to almost all my clients as it’s relaxing and helps with sleep issues. Both of which are key to better health.

   You simply need to be able to count to four. Breathe in for a count of four - then hold for four counts, then breathe out for four counts and hold your breath for four counts before starting again.   This is square breathing.

  The pauses are the most important part of this breathing practice. You may notice this is when your thoughts will begin to still. 


You can follow along with this video where I share the technique 26 min into a presentation about stress.

The effects are cumulative, so the more you introduce it into your day, the more you will benefit from lower blood pressure, improved ability to deal with difficult situations and better sleep (quantity and quality).

What changes do you notice now after just a few rounds?


c) Feldenkrais breathing 


This breathing practice helps increase lung capacity, ease and function. 

Use it to discover how good your breathing is and to increase control and breathing capacity:

You can follow the instruction on this video:

a. Place the depth and quality of your breath on a 1 to 10 scale – note if it’s more difficult  to breathe in or out.

b. Chop up the most difficult way (in or out) first. Repeat for 3 breaths then take a pause.

 Notice any change. And then reverse the process.

c. Now place your breathing on the scale of 1to 10, what changes do you notice?

    How do you feel mentally as well as physically?

 You can follow this recording, where I take a client  through this practice. 


Whenever you realise your breathing isn’t as good as you would like, recall a positive experience and relax with the above breathing practices. When you’re in pain remember to breathe OUT, muscles will relax more easily and pain will decrease! Square breathe at least twice a day!

Until next time, Be well.

Julie Nicholls Body~Mind Coach  LCSP(Phys), IEMT, former RGN Tel: 01793 495551

For other resources about breathing:


Learn how to improve deep breathing for stress and anxiety

Breathing function at 16min into this video


ALEXANDER STALMATSKI, Freedom from Asthma,

Buteyko’s revolutionary treatment

Asthma free in 21days

Or book a taster session:

This post contains Amazon links for which I may get a small commission if you purchase through the link.