What Really Limits Us

“The limits of my language means the limits of my world.” – Ludwig Wittgenstein

The idea that our language creates our world (each of our worlds… ) is very compelling for me.

I have long said that humans are meaning-seeking and meaning-creating creatures. We must not only understand our world, but make sense of it, according to our individual rules and beliefs.

And language is the primary, and predominant, tool of meaning.

So, we each create our world and language is the tool, and construction material, we use.

In terms of what we attempt or think might be possible, our language is the prime, and often, only, determinant.

Quite simply, when we say we can’t, we won’t (even try).

Not that merely saying we can means we will, but our brains will process things differently, based on the decision that something is not possible. (We won’t look for evidence or examples of how others have done “it,” we won’t look for instructional materials, we won’t seek the advice of others, we won’t see clues or openings or possibilities, we won’t attempt experiments or trials, we won’t… )

Language – positive, constructive, realistic and optimistic language – is absolutely necessary, but it is not sufficient.

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