"Words have energy and power with the ability to help, to heal, to hinder, to hurt, to harm, to humiliate, and to humble."
I’m going to ask you to do something for me. Something that may seem a little unorthodox, but I promise, there’s a method to my madness.
Take a good look at yourself in the mirror and say either out loud or to yourself, “Wow you look really good today!”
Check in with how you feel, as well as your reflection and make a mental note of what you see and feel.
Now take a deep breath.
Then count to three and say either out loud or to yourself, “Wow you look like shit today!” Check in with how you feel and what you see and again, make a mental note of what you see and feel.
What did you notice?
Did your energy rise or drop?
Did you stand up straighter or did you shrink?
Did you get emotional?
Did your itty-bitty shitty committee (your internal naysayer) come out in full force?
I remember years ago doing a very similar exercise except I was encouraged to stare deeply into my own eyes and repeat, “I love you, Pam. I really, really love you!”
The first time I did it, I cried like a baby.
I’d become so used to saying all sorts of crappy things to myself (about myself) that saying something nice was a shock to my system. Suffice it to say, it wasn’t an easy exercise to do every day, twice a day, for 21 days.
I’ll be honest, I don’t even recall if I lasted the full 21 days. I’ll say this however, that little exercise helped me to fully understand just how powerful words are.
THE WHY BEHIND THE POWER OF WORDS
Think about a time when someone shared a really nice, heartfelt compliment.
Now, while you may have been uncomfortable taking the compliment, there’s a pretty good chance that, that person became a bit more endearing. They may have created more of a connection by sharing a few positives. Hey, you might even have wanted to hang out with them more.
The same is true in reverse. If someone said something nasty to you, there’s a good chance that you didn’t rush over and hug them or invite them to have coffee with you.
Why is that?
Words that have an emotional impact or charge create feelings. It’s those feelings that give the words power. The power to…
HOW TO MAKE YOUR WORDS YOUR BEST FRIEND
“Words are like eggs dropped from great heights; you can no more call them back than ignore the mess they leave when they fall.”
- Jodi Picoult
Whether you’re trying to change the depth of a relationship with someone else or yourself, using any of the following tested tips will help you to make best friends with your words.
Be present with them. Sometimes we’re not even aware of what we’re saying to ourselves or to others. Our words may have become a habit, especially when it comes to negative self-talk.
In order break the habit, it’s helpful to be present and pay closer attention to what you’re saying. Check out the Call To Action below for an exercise that will help you become more present with your words.
Use them as a gauge for change. If you don’t like how some words are making you feel, (whether they’re coming from you or someone else), you always have the power to change that. Try asking yourself, “What needs to change?” and then, “What am I willing to do to make a change?” BUT, like with anything, you have to be willing to make that change or this tip won't work.
Shift the focus by taking a look around and noticing something good. The brain can’t think positively and negatively at the same time so shifting focus also shifts the energy, which shifts your words.
“Check yourself before your wreck yourself.” When someone says something snarky, it’s natural to want to strike back with your own snarky comment.
Just like an egg falling from a great height, snarky-ness met with snarky-ness creates a big, huge mess. So when someone says something that pushes your buttons, you can always hit the pause button by taking a deep breath or walking away and cooling off before responding.
“Speak your truth.” Remembering that you’re only responsible for how you deliver the message. Not how it’s received.
Catch and release. This is particularly helpful when you’re upset about a situation or something someone said. As a matter of fact, I’ve got a journal that is dedicated to all my “catch and releases”. I call it my Shit Journal. This is where I literally “dump” everything that is in my head, (all the negative thoughts, comments, snarky-ness, etc.) on to the pages of the journal until I release the negativity. I never go back and read what I’ve written and when the journal is full, I throw it away. Allowing the words to come out on paper helps to get them out in a constructive, rather than destructive, messy way.
CALL TO ACTION
This is a two-part call to action…
For one week, become hyper vigilant around your words, the ones you say to yourself and to others. And in doing so, keep track (using tick marks) of the positive words vs. the negative words you use in a day. I’ve created a tracking sheet that you can download here.
After you’ve created more awareness regarding the times you’ve used positive vs. negatives words, look back over the negative words you captured…
Is there a theme or commonality that you notice? (i.e. comments with “not enough” as the backdrop)
What do you need in order to reduce or eliminate the negative words? (i.e. to begin working on my value, seeing it and feeling it.)
What do you choose to do? (i.e. I choose to cut out all gossip because it undermines my value.)
I’d love to hear what you noticed and any changes that you’re making! Just know I’m here and I’m listening!
Because at the end of the day, you’re far too valuable a person to have any negative words diminish you in any way.