“Death and Life are in the power of the tongue. They that love it shall eat the fruit thereof.” – Proverbs 18:21
This ancient proverbs reveals a great truth about our words. Words have tremendous power, and in this particular proverb, death is mentioned first. I suspect this was intended as a warning, since for most of us its so easy to slip into negativity, both in our conversations and our self-talk. There’s good reason that ‘Bad news travels fast’ is an old saying. For some reason, we all have a bit of the naughty little kid in us who just can’t wait to share the latest bit of bad news, especially when it’s particularly ‘juicy.’
To make matters worse, we tend to do this to ourselves. I teach my clients to break this habit, because even when we don’t mean what we say, our subconscious mind receives the negative signal and, unfortunately begins to work against us. Now, experts from scientists to internet marketers have tried to understand how it works. It remains mysterious, but there are some things we do understand about the subconscious mind that can help us, especially with regard to our words and thoughts.
We know that he subconscious mind is not rational or logical. It doesn’t necessarily think in linear terms. It seems to behave more like a parallel processor, and therefore can process much more information than the conscious mind. It’s believed that that the subconscious mind can process as much as 40 billion bits of information per second, versus the 70-20 bits that the conscious mind can process. So it seems possible that the subconscious mind can process and assimilate most, or maybe even all, of what we see, hear, smell, taste, and so on… including what we say.
When we are negative in our words, we can actually influence our subconscious mind to work against us, while our conscious mind begins to believe what we’re saying. There was once a skinny little teenager who wanted to become really strong despite his small size, many people told him in many ways that he’d never be able to bench press whatever number of pounds seemed like a good number to them. He, however, was undaunted. and continued to tell himself that he would reach his goal on the bench press. Soon enough, He began to believe that he could do it, and that belief caused him to research how muscles worked, and what actually made people get stronger. In the end, he bench pressed 270 pounds at a body weight of 117, and years later could bench press more than 300 pounds at a body weight of just 143 pounds!
Had he been negative, sooner or later he would have convinced himself that it was impossible, and his level of effort and dedication would have dropped to match those words. This happens to most of us. Some might even say this is how we talk ourselves out of pursuing our dreams. Do whatever you have to do to stop this habit. Now, I’m not saying you should be positive about things that don’t make any sense. You won’t see me trying out for the Toronto Raptors anytime soon.
Words can hurt feelings, offend sensibilities, start bar fights, end marriages and make enemies. At the same time, they can restore relationships, inspire people to strive for excellence, resolve conflict and make friends. Choose your words wisely, and use them kindly as often as you can.
What I am saying that you should speak good things over your own life. Encourage yourself if you have to! What I typically have my clients do is a simple exercise in which they write down goals, or things they’d like to change, and then write down two or three encouraging statements about those things. They then read these aloud to themselves as often as they need to until they begin to believe it, and while they’re doing this, they’re already taking action toward achieving those goals.
Try this out for a week and see what happens. You’ll be glad you did.