Using Healthy WorHave you ever considered the power that the words you use have on your overall health and well-being? Think back to a time in your life when perhaps a parent, grandparent, teacher or friend said something that “stuck” with you.
It may have been a positive or even a negative remark that you will never forget.
Have you ever offered words of encouragement or happiness to someone and hope that it makes them feel better? The words that we use every day to ourselves and others have power over our health.
The most powerful words of all are the ones you say to yourself every day. Have you ever stopped to listen to how you talk to yourself? Most people say things to themselves that they would never say to someone else. Things like “I’m fat”,” or “I’m not smart enough to do that.” It’s rare for people to give themselves compliments-we are our own harshest critic.
The power of words isn’t lost on anyone. Just think of the pleasure you feel when someone pays you a sincere compliment, or the discomfort of realizing you’ve spilled a secret you’d promised to keep. Words and the energy they carry make or break friendships and careers; they define us as individuals and even as cultures. We know this, and yet we often let our words flow out before considering the effects they may have on ourselves and others. Sometimes it’s only when consequences occur that we stop to think about the way we speak.
The words that we use have the power to cause joy or pain, and to create a climate that fosters truth or falsity, kindness or cruelty. So much of the pain we cause ourselves and each other could be avoided if we were just a bit more discriminating about what we say. Our relationships, our work environment, even our feelings about ourselves, can be transformed simply by taking time to think about how words create reality. Yes, words create reality, so choosing healthy words can create a healthy environment for all of us.
Here are some suggestions for using healthy words. Take a minute to consider if you are following these guidelines, or if you are perhaps a little bit “unhealthy” in the words you use.
1. Practice speaking words of encouragement instead of negativity. Sounds good, right? However how many times have you heard someone, perhaps even yourself react negatively to a new idea or concept rather than offering words of encouragement? What we say can have a permanent effect for good or for evil. Think back in your own life when someone encouraged you. You still remember what they said, don’t you? We store in our minds in a kind of mental art gallery what others have said to us. What words of yours would you like to have permanently installed in someone else’s mind?
2. Avoid fueling verbal fires. Don’t throw fuel on the fire of an argument; it will cause you more stress and anxiety in the long run. Want to free yourself from an entrapping verbal situation? Practice waiting 10 seconds before answering someone when you’re angry. Then carefully choose what you are going to say. Your reply could well be remembered for the rest of the other person’s life!
3. Don’t be a motor-mouth. Listen more than you talk and think about what you’re going to say before you say it. Don’t just blurt out whatever is on your mind. People who constantly chatter on and on about themselves and their opinions strain their relationships. If you enjoy monopolizing conversations, think about what other people may be experiencing when they’re with you. Also, the more you talk, the more likely you’ll be to put your foot in your mouth. That’s known as “foot-in-mouth disease!” So think before you let something out that you’ll regret saying.
4. Nip hurtful speech in the bud by carefully choosing your thoughts. Hurtful speech can cause pain and regret for you afterwards. Take time to consider how your words will affect others and how you would feel if someone used those words towards you. If you could put what you’re thinking on a CD, what would you entitle it? Thought patterns will come out sooner or later in your conversations so choose positive thoughts.
5. Remember that every word you use is a conscious choice. Choose to react to experiences in a positive way. Choose to use positive words and you will most certainly feel healthy and happy and have the same influence on others.
Carrie White spent more than 25 years in the fitness industry as a consultant, club owner, fitness trainer and attorney. She is now a professor, yoga instructor and the director of the LaunchLab at West Virginia University.