Reversing the Curse of the Announcer

Language Matters

I love sports. I love watching sports — even some sports that some sports fans don’t think are actually sports.

I love watching pro football — go Patriots! A 6th Super Bowl ring would be just awesome! And it all starts tonight, September 7, 2017!

I love watching tennis — player against player. All the players out there, hitting their best shots with nowhere to hide from the bad ones that we all see — endlessly.

I don’t love watching baseball, but if pushed, I’ll watch it.

I’ve enjoyed watching curling (in the Olympics), figure skating, downhill skiing, shot put, and pretty much anything that is a contest between people or teams.

But my first love is golf.

OK, yeah. I can hear you — I CAN HEAR YOU! Golf isn’t a sport, you say. Golf is just a “good walk spoiled,” you say. Golf? Really, Susan? You’re not serious.

Yup. And it is a sport (or at least a contest) among a whole bunch of men or women, all trying to win a seriously large amount of money. And then there’s the prestige of winning, especially a “major” championship, which can also translate into more seriously large amounts of money. It’s a real sport.

And as with any sport, there are announcers, those “talking heads” who feel compelled to talk over / under / through / around every single play. No silence allowed. They need to earn their keep, I guess.

So what’s with the “curse of the announcer”?

Let’s say you’re watching football. The announcer says, “He can’t miss at that range. He’s connected with all his receivers who are within 20 yards in his last (x number) of games.”

He, the quarterback, overthrows his receiver by 20 yards.

You’re watching baseball. The announcer says, “He has been terrific in the clean-up spot. He always hits something the other guys can score on.”

He strikes out.

You’re watching golf. The announcer says, “She’s made every putt the last two days from within ten feet.”

Yup. She misses a two-footer.

All of that happens more than it should, even though the players can’t even hear the announcers’ words. No, I don’t know why, but it does seem as though someone “up there” is whispering to the players …

But WE can hear OUR words, and when we’re the announcer in our own life — when WE say something like that — we’re creating a pattern our brain recognizes.

We say something like “I never miss a deadline.” “I never forget to …” “I have never lost track of …”

Then, oops. We do.


What are the last words our brain heard? “...miss a deadline.” “…forget to …” “… lost track of …”

Our brain obeys what it hears us say or think. And it has heard us say what we don’t do, but our brain doesn’t distinguish between doing and not doing. Our brain listens to verbs, which are so often action words. Speak. Sit. Run. Talk. Listen. Go. Stay. Scream. Whisper. And it obeys, enough times, anyway, to cause trouble for us.

So the more we tell our brain what NOT do to, the more it does that exact thing.

Are we doomed? Heck, no. We just need to reprogram our way of talking (to ourselves or to others) or thinking. We need to focus on positive verbs, the actions we want to do, the results we want to achieve. We need to give ourselves a chance to accomplish, not mess up.

Think of what the airline personnel are trained to say when there’s a bump that scares us all. Do they say, “Don’t panic”?

NO. That puts the wrong idea into every passenger’s brain, and then the crew really has a tough assignment: to calm the passengers down because the crew planted the wrong idea in their mind.

What DO they say? “Please remain in / return to your seats. Buckle your seatbelt. Stay calm.” While we may not be 100% reassured (that was a HUGE bump!), at least we are hearing the kinds of verbs that can help.

So, going forward, let’s tell ourselves what we want: We want to finish up by 5 p.m. We want to eat lunch at noon. We want to make it three in a row. We want to take a walk at 4 this afternoon.

Let’s use our words to gain positive results!

Does this make sense? Have you experienced situations like this? How do you talk to yourself when you’re trying to reach a goal?

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