Words are so much a part of our lives, we rarely examine them. Here are a couple important things to keep in mind.
Our ongoing stream of thoughts contains many negative messages, some reasonable alerts, while many others are false warnings and alarms. We also re-play our favorite negative messages about ourselves and the world.
What’s more, living presents many societal problems that affect us. The media focuses on conflict as well, influencing – often unconsciously –how we describe things.
As a result, it’s easy to use negatively laden words and phrases without realizing the toll they take – on our daily life and the quality of our life
By contrast, using words with awareness can make a positive difference. Let’s explore how words can depress us or uplift us.
The Energy in the Words You Use
We describe below a powerful little exercise from our recent book The Ultimate Paradigm Shift.
- Note all of the following words:
bad, threat, corruption, crisis, struggle, recession, fear, isolation
After reading them, notice what happens to your posture, along with how you feel about yourself and your possibilities. Also notice how alive you feel on a scale of 1 to 10.
- Now note all of these following words:
good, improve, smile, hope, fun, love, happiness, opportunities
What happens to your posture now as you read this list? What happens to your sense of aliveness on the same scale? Quite a difference, wouldn’t you say?
To get a fuller understanding, here are three ways we use words, often without noticing that how they can deflate us. Plus some practical ways on how to use our words wisely.
1. Dealing with “Why am I so negative?”
As a human being, we are designed to have a negative bias. This means the brain is wired to pay attention to problems for self-protection. For instance, it’s more important to know how close a storm is to where you live than when you will go for a nice walk. So there is an urgency factor at play.
Unfortunately, we can exaggerate and imagine threats. We can catastrophize, imagining the worse. We then overheat our brains with negative thoughts and restrictive feelings. We also inflame the nervous system, locking into a fight-flight-freeze mode.
In addition, the media picks up on how people pay attention to negative news. So it’s easy to get glued continuously to the next breaking, alarming story.
Here is a revealing study cited in the Guardian. It has been shown that negative news stories can lead to more “misperception of risk, anxiety, lower mood levels, learned helplessness, contempt and hostility towards others, desensitization, and in some cases, … complete avoidance of the news.”
Yet there is something we can do about it (more in a moment).
2. Are you really “lovin’ it”?
Companies like McDonalds repeatedly advertise catchy phrases (“I’m lovin’ it”) that stay in our heads, even though at odds with our health.
When we were growing up decades ago, cigarette companies would play ads with the jingle, “Winston tastes good like a cigarette should.” Even though these ads aired decades ago, they easily come to our mind with associations and triggers.
It’s important to realize the following: One of the ways to program the unconscious mind is by repetition, like ad campaigns, such as “M&Ms melts in your mouth, not in your hand,” “Only pay for what you need,” and the list goes on and on.
Luckily there are other ways to positively program yourself, as we will note. Plus it’s wise to deliberately limit your ad watching as much as possible. This “social distancing” from such messages helps reduce their impact and minimize their circulation in our brains.
As you know, ads use catchy words, phrasing and rhymes to make you want items, those that are often undesirable, unhealthy and unnecessary.
3. Common Misleading Self-Judgments: “I’m a failure | fraud | defective | bad | [fill in the blank]”
In childhood we developed negative beliefs initially used as protection; defenses to help us deal with difficult experiences (such as abuse, abandonment, isolation, etc). It was a primitive way of protecting ourselves, given we had little resources or development at that time.
Yet the negative messages still are still alive within our childhood consciousness that we carry around now – until we consciously clear the those blocks. On a broader scale, overcoming these limiting messages becomes part of our spiritual development in adulthood.
These limiting mindsets can be part of a life lesson or theme you are here to explore, providing material for growth and creativity.
Common limiting identity judgments include:
“I’m stupid or clumsy or a failure or a fraud.”
Instead, start to cultivate positive self-image statements such as:
“I am becoming more intelligent and aware.”
“I move with intention and learn new physical skills and control.”
“I continue to succeed in different areas.”
“I am making a difference for myself and others and the world.”
Use the above positive self-talk (or create your own) in meditation, journaling or prominently displayed to-do notes.
Putting Words to Work For You
Since words (or thoughts?) tend to flow unconsciously, it takes some deliberate effort to change what words we focus on and how we use them.
As to the negative stories people like to view, many of us are just programmed that way. Nonetheless, it’s true that research has shown some people prefer more positive news than being glued into to the next negative piece of news.
But in any event, taking some of the above suggestions to heart can help you be more selective and aware. It can really make a big difference in the quality of your life.
Specifically, be aware how you are wired to hear negative words to warn you to be alert and take action. Your wiring doesn’t discriminate at first whether it’s a real threat, false alarm or imaginary one.
It’s good to mindfully monitor yourself and how you think and feel. Determine what’s really going on, rather than just reacting.
It’s also good to be aware of commercial programming from jingles and those with commercial agendas. The goal is to be more objective again and not react. Ultimately you want to live your life by being more soulful and using your experiences, rather than just letting them happen to you and consume you.
Also there is your default set of negative beliefs, such as “This approach will never work”; ”I’ve already tried this before without success.”
You can use the positive affirmations mentioned above in item #3. Also there is holistic EFT and other modalities to rewire your system.
Words Can Help You Awaken
In closing, negative thoughts are part of life, part of the human condition.[pullquote align=”right”]New awareness of the words you use can help you find more awakening words.” [/pullquote]
New awareness of the words you use can help you find more awakening words. With empowering words on hand, you can see how a crisis can turn into an opportunity, a disaster can be a doorway, and a death can lead to rebirth.
And in time, you’ll live with more meaning and depth. Words then can become precious vehicles and expressions of who you are and who you are becoming.