Words and Their Power
“Always keep your words soft and sweet, just in case you have to eat them.” #halfmoonfortunes
Over the past month I have been focused a lot on language and the words we use. I went to a wonderful talk by the author Caroline Myss, who spoke about the power of words and their impact. I loved her description that words are like a wardrobe; you can decide what to say, just like what to wear. She spoke about the power of choice in the words we use and how they can impact our experiences and perceptions of the world. I thought a lot about this and how so many of us just speak without thinking and it reminded me of a course I took with Michael Stone. In his course he spoke of the Buddhist precept that we need to look at the words we use, not only if they are honest, but also if they are beneficial. Myss went on to discuss that most people’s vocabulary in their head is the worst. In order to thrive we need to stop and pay attention to the language we are using in our own head. Is it helpful or hurtful? It asks the question, how do we change what the voice in our head says? In order to create change we need a practice. I often say to my yoga students, watch self-talk when you fall out of a balancing pose or when you feel you SHOULD be able to create a shape with your body. Can we learn on our mat to reframe our self-talk so that off our mat we can apply this idea? When you wake up in the morning, how do you frame it in your mind? Are you happy, excited and engaged or hurt, negative about pain, or are you angry that your kids are waking you up too early?
Another concept she spoke about was to stop labeling experiences before they happen. So much of the time we think we know what will happen or how something will make us feel. She encourages people, just like in yoga, that in order to be in the moment you have to let go of the language you are anticipating and actually be present with moment. When you use a word there are consequences if you use a different word there will be different consequences.
She gave a great list of words to never use again and one of my favorites was “TRY”. This actually means no, you won’t can’t or don’t want to. “Do you want to come over later?” “ I’ll try my best”. Start to notice when you use this word and how you actually feel when using it.
In a mindfulness course I took last year there was this great idea of pausing and minding the gap. Bringing mindfulness into speech helps to counteract the strong habits we develop that can lead to ineffective communication. Talking slower and paying attention to what our intention is, why are we saying the things we are, is the intention to create connection or separation? We need to start looking at the words we use and how so often they become habit, like I love you at the end of a phone call, or good night. Even if the word still fits in situations are we just saying them or is there a meaning behind it. Words are so powerful. As you move through your day start to notice what are your most commonly used words? Do you mean them, or is it habit? Are you forecasting, or present in the moment?