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Change a Verb, Change a Life.

Could changing a verb, change a life outcome?

The French word for fear is ‘peur’. The simple translation for ‘I am afraid’ is ‘J’ai peur’ . This can literally be translated to ‘I have fear’.

Look at that.

I am afraid. I have fear.

One expresses a complete state that ties to the identity of the speaker, there is no limit to where or when it starts or ends: I am… afraid. My whole being is afraid. My whole self is full of fear.

The other expresses a slightly detached feel: I have many things, fear is one of them. Or, fear is what I have. The way I see it, there is an implied choice here — I have it, I can keep it or switch it or give it. It’s not who I am. It’s something I have.

I can feel your disdain. Well, let’s look at two more words. Or rather phrases. Courage and happiness.

I am happy. Je suis content.

Neither expresses detachment. But where one expression says my whole being is happy, the other says my being is content — filled with contentment.

There are myriad such nuances in translation. We could argue till dawn about the origin of phrases and who said what, when, how.

Here’s what I know:

The way we speak to ourselves, and to each other, can radically improve or destroy the relationships in our lives — with ourselves and others.

Written by

Cameroonian writer and video creator. Featured in LEVEL and P.S. I Love You. I write about building relationships and personal transformation.

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