Brain Food #384

Changing perspectives through language

Daily Brain Food.

Thoughts of the day

Part of living is defined by our ability to change, but why do we tend to deal with change as an external influence that we have no control over? What if we are in charge of our own change?

This is what existentialism, of course, famously declares, but also, more recently, neuroscience.

“Neurolinguistics is the study of how language is represented in the brain: that is, how and where our brains store our knowledge of the language (or languages) that we speak, understand, read, and write, what happens in our brains as we acquire that knowledge.” (The Linguistics Society of America)

Neurolinguistics is, in simple terms, how the way we use our language influences us and those around us, on a behavioural level.

This, of course, is a common secret in the world of advertising, where straplines and promotional messages are crafted to control our responses. This is why a label that reads “80% lean” will be much more popular than one that says “20% fat”, or the message “-30% sugar” (than the original product) will resonate much more than “Contains only 70% of [the original’s] sugar”.

Taken a step further, this means that how we frame events, verbally or not, can affect the way we feel about them. Though this has culminated in a recent branch of pseudoscience under the name of ‘Neuro-linguistic programming’, the truth remains that the way we choose to view and tell our own stories, even to ourselves, is sometimes our only way of controlling how we remember certain experiences, and how we let them affect us.

“It's funny how the beauty of art has so much more to do with the frame than the artwork itself.”

From the Fight Club writer, Chuck Palahniuk.


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