Your Words: Healing or Hurting?
Have you experienced this phenomenon? You settle in behind the wheel of your car, insert your keys to start your engine, and begin heading to your destination. Before you know it, you arrive with no real memory of the journey. Somewhere after leaving your driveway, you zone out and make the trek on auto pilot.
Routine activities like driving often get less and less of your attention, especially as your life becomes more demanding. It is a bit frightening to imagine how many drivers on the road are far from present, risking safety for themselves and others.
Those same stressors and pressures that affect your driving also impact your words.
Words are incredibly powerful – so powerful that God was able to speak the universe into being. He then chose to create you and me in His image, giving our words power.
Words are your spoken thoughts. They are generated by your feelings and flow out of your heart. Your thoughts powerfully influence your reality.
Like all young children, my oldest son had his moments. As a young frustrated mom, I would tell him that he was “Driving me nuts” or that he was “Driving me crazy.” We all got a chuckle out of how my son turned that into “You are driving my nuts crazy” yet there was nothing chuckle-worthy about what I was communicating to him. I was speaking mindlessly! I was not recognizing the power of my words!
While there is no denying that your words have a powerful effect on those around you, perhaps the person who is most impacted by your words is YOU!
While not always audible, you are engaged in an ongoing conversation with yourself. Your “self-talk” has the potential to help or hurt you. This dialogue goes on day in and day out whether you consciously tune in to hear the conversation or not. The longer you allow the conversation to go unchecked, the stronger the paths in your brain get. Before you know it, your negative thinking has set chemical reactions into motion that have negative implications for your life.
If ignored, your negative thoughts have the potential to…
- Lead to illness or depression
- Create frustration
- Rob you of peace
- Turn you into a complainer
- Cause you to be incapable of appreciating the good things in life
- Keep you stuck
- Leak out affecting your relationships and your work
- Zap your energy
- Keep you believing lies
- Multiply your fears
The good news – you can change the way you think! You don’t have to continue to entertain those negative thoughts and suffer the consequences!
It is more than just positive thinking; it is thinking that sets into motion a chemical reaction that actually creates changes in your brain – rewires it! That’s exciting!
Ready to makes some brain changes?
1. Pay attention to the words you are using
Perhaps you have said some of these mindless words:
- Sick and tired of…
- My cancer, my allergies, my diabetes etc.
- I don’t understand
- I am…
- I’m so stupid
- It nearly killed me
- I want it so badly
While seemingly harmless, the actual meaning behind these words is negative. Make it a habit to express yourself more articulately and accurately. You don’t want to be sick and tired, and you don’t want to identify yourself with negative things like cancer!
2. Beware of little words
- But – a tiny word, but anything that follows it is invalidated. For example, “I would love to help you, but I just don’t have the time.” suggests that you don’t want to help at all. It would be better to say, “I am not free to help you this time.” This may seem small, yet it has a powerful effect on your thinking.Often the use of the word “but” is a way of sidestepping responsibility.
- Try – another tiny word that implies only an “iffy” commitment. When you say “try” you practically set yourself up to fail. Why not be more exact and say “I will” or “I won’t.” Commit!
- I can’t – These two words signal to your brain that it can check out! Odds are you are far more capable than you think! Ruthlessly eliminating this little phrase will make venturing out of your comfort zone and skill set possible. You’ll never know what you actually can do until you at least attempt the challenge!
- Wish – you don’t wish things into existence, it takes steady action! Using words like wish suggest you have a passive role in whatever you are attempting. Why not use words that reflect the action that will be required? Turn your “I wish” statements into “I will” statements.
- I am… – be very careful what you associate with yourself in this way. Rather than saying things like “I am angry” or “I am frustrated” it is better to say “I feel angry” or “I feel frustrated.” Feelings are temporary. They can change – they do not define you.
- If –expresses doubt rather than certainty. Replace “If” with “when.”
- Should – using the word should indicates something you think you are obligated to do, but not necessarily something you will actually do. For example, it is better to say “I will clean up the basement” than saying “I should clean up the basement.”
- Luck – there is no such thing as luck! Thinking you are lucky discounts the role God has played in your circumstances as well as the hard work you have contributed. Most likely you are blessed and diligent, rather than lucky!
3. Dig deeper
Once you are aware of the words that are tripping up your thinking, begin to dig a little deeper and explore the beliefs behind those words. Journaling is an excellent way to do this. What you discover might surprise you! Often times it is your core fear that is stirring up trouble or variations of it. Once you know what you are dealing with, you can be more mindful moving forward.
4. Embrace Your Identity in Christ
God loves you! He doesn’t love you in a casual way – He loves in a deep, all-encompassing way! So deep that He was willing to sacrifice His own Son so that you might become one of His Sons or Daughters! In His rich love for you, He has a purpose that you alone can fulfill. A way of being that will be incredibly fulfilling to you, bring glory to Him, and make a difference.
The steps I have described here are not steps that you take once and move on. They are steps that must be revisited often – weekly, if not daily, to ensure your thinking remains untangled. That may seem time consuming, yet it is far less time consuming than operating in a negative space! Far less dangerous than doing life on auto pilot!
What negative thoughts have kept you from savoring the abundant life God has in mind for you?