Did you ever reflect on the power of words? Words can cause us to erupt into laughter, break down into tears, fly into a rage, sink into despair, or float on clouds of happiness. Pretty strong stuff, wouldn’t you say? Yet, that’s only the beginning, for the words we use do more than describe the events we experience and actions we take; they determine their outcomes. What I am today is the result of the words I have used. What I will become and experience tomorrow, depends on the words I use today.
My thoughts have no substance until they are shaped into words. Once they become words they can be strung together to make statements. And the statements I make create my reality. If I make angry statements, I AM angry. If I make joyful statements, I AM joyful. When I state my job is miserable, I AM miserable. When I state my job is interesting, I AM interested.
The words we use can block our progress or clear the path to success and happiness. They can deprive us of personal power or release it. Words are potent. They are infused with a divine spark. They are a gift from God — tools, which are used to create our reality. Their significance is hinted at in verse one, chapter one, in the Gospel of John: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”
Let’s move away from the theoretical and become more practical. The important point is that words are powerful and because we use them, we are powerful. But unless we are aware of their power and their proper use, the power may mistakenly be used destructively.
On November 17, 1847, Nathaniel Hawthorne wrote the following: “Words — so innocent and powerless as they are, as standing in a dictionary, how potent for good and evil they become, in the hands of one who knows how to combine them!” So, let’s look at ways of combining words that will release our personal power, not block it, and ways that will prove to be constructive, not destruction.
Tom will be our first example. He lacks the power of his friends who are comfortable working with computers. When asked about it, he replies, “I’d like to learn how to use computers, but I have no time.” His combination of words, his statement, is filled with denial, negation, powerlessness, weakness, excuse, blame, and fear. Would you say his statement releases personal power or blocks it?
Let’s help Tom. We’ll begin by changing just one word in his reply. By changing BUT to AND, his reply now becomes, “I’d like to learn how to use computers, AND I have no time.” Look at what’s happened. Instead of one negative statement, we now have two separate statements. The first statement, “I’d like to learn how to use computers,” points to a desire to increase one’s personal power, so that’s good.
The second statement is an exaggeration and needs to be changed to a truthful one before we can continue. So, “I have NO time” becomes “I have LITTLE time.” This is actually a positive statement. After all, if I have LITTLE time, I have SOME time. I can now accomplish my wish to learn about computers by spending a LITTLE time studying and practicing each day.
Do you feel any guilt, shame, or regret because you’re not doing some things that you wish you were? Good! Those feelings are your friends. They are your inner urges to become more powerful. Use those urges as inspiration to combine your words into empowering statements. Change BUT into AND, and add SO at the end of the statement. For example, change “I want to quit smoking, BUT I’m addicted” to “I want to quit smoking AND I’m addicted, SO (I will kick the habit by doing the following . . .).
If you find yourself often using BUT as an excuse, you can keep it in your statement if it makes it easier for you. But reverse the order of your statement and add SO. Here’s what I mean. Instead of saying, “I’d like to quit smoking, but I’m addicted” change it to “I’m addicted to cigarettes, but I’d like to quit, so . . . (I’m going to do the following).
Here’s another hint. Always replace SHOULD with COULD. Why? SHOULD conjures up feelings of stress, pressure, anxiety, and resentment. I feel like it’s something I don’t want to do. For instance, I SHOULD clean the house. Ugh! But when I use COULD it points to choice, which is the source of personal power. It also invites reflection on what would happen if I were to do what I COULD. Let’s see, now, I COULD clean the house, and if I were to do so, I would feel a lot better. Well, let’s get started!
Also, change HAVE TO to WANT TO … BECAUSE. In other words, “I HAVE TO clean the house” becomes “I WANT TO clean the house BECAUSE . . .” The WANT TO empowers you, and the reasons generated by BECAUSE motivate you to act. Similarly, change MUST to CHOOSE TO . . . BECAUSE. So, “I MUST clean the house” now becomes “I CHOOSE TO clean the house BECAUSE . . .”
Can you see how the words you use shape you and create your environment? Can you feel the enormous power locked into words? Don’t take your words lightly. Become aware of them and use them to empower you. Don’t allow a poor choice of words strip you of your unlimited potential. To help you move in that direction, here’s another tip. Replace WISH, LIKE TO, or TRY with WILL. So, “I WISH I could quit smoking,” or “I’d LIKE TO quit smoking,” or “I’m going to TRY to quit smoking” becomes “I WILL quit smoking!” WILL releases commitment and allows you to work on a plan to reach your goal.
Finally, replace SOMEDAY, SOON, or EVENTUALLY with a specific date. “SOMEDAY I’ll start an exercise program” or “I plan to start exercising SOON” or, worse yet, “EVENTUALLY I’m going to join a fitness club” are statements that block my power. On the other hand, “I’m going to check out two fitness clubs and join one of them THIS WEEKEND” empowers me today and will create a much better future. Can you become aware of the words you use, change them, and develop your personal power? Of course you can! Just believe in yourself.
Believe in yourself
To the depth of your being.
Nourish the talents
Your spirit is freeing.
Know in your heart
when the going gets slow
that your faith in yourself
will continue to grow.
Don’t forfeit ambition
when others may doubt.
It’s your life to live;
you must live it throughout.
Learn from your errors;
don’t dwell in the past.
from a world that is vast.
Believe in yourself;
find the best that is you.
Let your spirit prevail;
steer a course that is true.
by Don Stabler