The Power of WORDS! They can never be erased.
Our Words are Powerful. They have the ability to build up or tear down.
I’m sure most of us have heard the ‘song’ sung by children: “Sticks and stones will break my bones, but words will never harm me”. That couldn’t be further from the truth. Our words have a huge amount of power; words can build someone up or tear them down.
I remember doing an exercise in high school. Our teacher instructed us to use a kid’s size tube of toothpaste (this was back when you could find some kinds of toothpaste in a metal tube) to draw a picture. We were cautioned not to press it into our paper, but, excitedly, we all squeezed our tubes so that the toothpaste sat awkwardly on the paper like thin rope, with breaks here and there and the odd smear in sections. Our toothpaste had been squeezed and every little gram was on the paper. With the tubes completely crunched and crushed, some were only recognizable by the cap on the end.
After all this, our teacher asked us to scoop up the toothpaste and put it all back into the tube! Absolutely impossible. Not one of us could do it. We couldn’t even put the tiniest amount back in. Slowly, she explained that we need to imagine the toothpaste as our words, ‘Once they are out, they can never be unsaid or returned to where they came from.’ If we say something hurtful, we can never take it back. Consequently, no matter how many sorrys we say, our words will always have been said: always stuck on the paper of somebody else’s mind.
Are we a product of ‘the words’ over our life?
If you hear something enough, you start to believe it. How many times have you thought, ‘Gosh, I sound like my father or mother’? Ever wondered why? Maybe because you spent decades listening to them… We each have our own story and upbringing; we are raised by and influenced by different people. And often our self-worth and self-esteem is a result of who we have spent time with, admired and listened to.
There are so many influencers, heroes and mentors in life: parents, teachers, friends, colleagues, public figures, people we place as role models. Somewhere along the way, we started believing what we believe about ourselves; did their guidance and influence have an impact on this? Have you ever thought about your thoughts- where they come from and why you think them? Why do I have this opinion of myself? It came from somewhere and identifying where it came from is key to what you believe about yourself.
Safe and unsafe people
The world is full of safe and unsafe people. The important thing to recognize is who is speaking into your life. Words have power! I love how the bible says it in Proverbs 18:21: “Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruit”. It is so beautifully said in the Passion Translation: “Your words are so powerful that they will kill or give life, and the talkative person will reap the consequences.”
In my own words, be careful of the words you choose. Be careful of what you say over your life, what you speak into others’ lives and what you say about others. If someone speaks negatively into your life, work on and address that. If you walk away from a conversation with someone and feel uncomfortable about how that person spoke to you, that needs addressing too. Nobody has the right to pull you down, or the right to speak death over your life.
Our lives need boundaries: good, healthy, honest and beneficial boundaries.
Automatic Negative Thoughts (ANT’s) or Toxic Thinking
We spend A LOT of time inside our heads, let’s make it an enjoyable happy place to be. But where do these weird, negative thoughts come from? Who knows! Sometimes it’s from the negativity of others but sometimes it’s our own negativity we have built up and convinced ourselves of. It’s amazing how easy it is to sometimes go down the rabbit hole of negativity and before you know it, you are wallowing in the pool of self-pity. This is not true for all, but it is certainly for some. Sometimes it lasts for a season, but sometimes that season lasts for always. We do have power. As hard as it may be to do, we can take our thoughts captive.
Multiple Perspective Advantage (MPA)
There is this amazing ability called Multiple Perspective Advantage (MPA). It is a phrase coined by Dr Caroline Leaf and refers to the deliberate and intentional process of standing outside yourself and observing your thoughts, words and actions- and changing them. The ability to do this is unique to humans and it can help us regulate our thinking and behavior every 10 seconds. Although, the busier life, the harder it gets to do this! As we practise this, however, we become much more effective at what we do and how we function. How?
We use our MPA by consciously observing what we say, what we are thinking, what we are choosing, our body movements, our reactions, how people react to us, and so on. You can do this any time. As you do this, the firing in the front part of your brain increases, which gives you more control and helps your thinking function at a higher level.
When you think these negative thoughts, speak to yourself and replace them with positive ones.
This one is a little more adventurous, but I love it. It has helped me overcome those lingering, persistent negative thoughts. Wear a rubber band on your wrist and whenever you think a negative thought, give it a little snap. The trick is not to hurt yourself but to remind yourself every time you have a negative thought to replace it with a positive one.
Project of power
Incredible! After initially writing this blog, I stumbled upon an Instagram post where Danielle Laporte posted a picture of two halves of the same apple decomposing. One half of the apple had barely started the process and the other was well underway: mouldy and decomposed. The title: ‘Words heal or create chaos. Here’s an experiment to test your power’. Wow, what a project! She tells of how they put each half of the apple into different, sealed glass containers and spoke abundant life to the one and absolute death to the other. Doing this for a few weeks, her family saw the effects of the project. Like I said, ‘AMAZING!’. The half which had been spoken death and negativity to had decomposed drastically, but the half that had had life and positivity spoken over it had barely decomposed at all. You could still eat it.
I read something along these same lines as a teenager, with two tomato trees, where one flourished and the other died. I remember thinking, ‘Wow! How powerful are our words?’. A few years later, as I started reading my bible more, I saw the same happened with Jesus. He cursed the fig tree because it had no fruit and a few days later, when they passed that tree again, it was dead.
What about others
Absolutely! We need to be careful about what is spoken into our lives, and what we, therefore, believe about ourselves. Subsequently, we need to be careful about what we are speaking into others’ lives. Are we building others up? Are we building our children and spouse up, or are we tearing them down? Not only are our words vital to us, but they are vital to our relationships. Healthy, happy relationships stem from love, kindness and beneficial honesty.
So, in the end, are you believing what has been spoken over your life? Are you believing what you speak over your life? If it’s positive – keep it up; if it’s negative – ditch it! Regardless of what you think or believe, amazingly, the bible says that God chose you and created you; perfect and whole, so maybe decide to use that when you are feeling down, worthless, less or insignificant.
Dr from The Huffpost says it perfectly: “Words are singularly the most powerful force available to humanity. We can choose to use this force constructively with words of encouragement, or destructively using words of despair. Words have energy and power with the ability to help, to heal, to hinder, to hurt, to harm, to humiliate and to humble.”