How a Simple Word Swap Can Change Your Perspective

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I love “mind hacks”, that is, something you can do to make your brain think a little differently.  You can use them to get motivated or to overcome a fear of doing something that you’re afraid to do, but I’ve applied a certain technique when it comes to viewing ostomies.

One of the most difficult aspects of having an ostomy is accepting it. If you can accept your ostomy then chances are you’ll have a more positive experience.

I’ve already written about how I consider attitude to be the most important factor when determining the future “success” of an ostomate.  The problem is that it’s not always easy to reach the right attitude.

But with a simple change to our vocabulary, we’re able to almost instantly transform our perspective.

And what’s the secret?

Change your “I have to” into “I get to“. Pretty easy, right?

Look at what happens when we do that:

I have to have surgery” becomes “I get to have surgery”.

I have to see my surgeon again to discuss my surgery” becomes “I get to see my surgeon again to discuss my surgery”.

I have to go and change my appliance” becomes “I get to go and change my appliance”.

When we use the words “I have to” in a sentence, there’s a feeling of not having any control and drudging along with whatever comes next.

But by using “I get to“, we turn that unpleasant action into something we have the privilege of being a part of.

We may not like having to book an appointment to see a doctor or stoma nurse because we are often seeing them when things aren’t going well.

But we most certainly are extremely fortunate to have the opportunity to see a health care professional – we get to see them.

Notice how our perception changes when the statement is framed a little differently?

I wish I knew this word trick when I found out about my ostomy.  I get to have a stoma is something I should have been celebrating at the time because without it I’d likely be dead or suffering indefinitely. I’m lucky that I get to have my ostomy!

And it doesn’t stop with ostomies! Apply this new language with other aspects of your life that you feel need a lift.


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Here are some examples:

I have to take this medication” becomes “I get to take this medication” (not everyone can be so fortunate to have access to pain meds, meds to control inflammation, chemotherapy, or even nutritional supplements).

I have to use the bathroom, again!” transforms into “I get to use the bathroom, again!” (be thankful that you can make it to a toilet, and not be upset about using one).

Try it the next time negative feelings about your ostomy (or anything else) comes up.

Tips when using this technique:

  • See the meaning behind the words. Don’t just change the words around, consider what your new sentence implies.
  • Don’t just say it to yourself. People around you can pick up on your feelings better than you know.
  • It’s still ok to be upset. This technique isn’t meant to suppress your emotions.  Don’t feel that you need to “grin and bear it” through tough circumstances. Sometimes it is possible to acknowledge how lucky we are, even through our misfortunes.
QUESTION: So tell me, have you used this technique? 
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