Someone recently called me and said, “I’m in hell today, I swear…” I couldn’t help but point out to them that their words were confirming their experience, likely ensuring that the rest of their day would be “hell.”
In his incredible book “Conscious Language,” Robert Tennyson Stevens writes that “Language is our operating system, shaping our thought and reality as specifically as a set of blueprints defines the architect’s ideas to the builder.” So if we can create our reality with our words, then in order to bring a thought to fruition we first have to speak it. When people say things like “I could never do that” or “I’ll never be able to X,” they’re seemingly affirming that they never will.
Numerous studies on the brain have proven just how powerful our words are. In the book “Words Can Change Your Brain,” authors Andrew Newberg, M.D. and Mark Robert Waldman write:
“By holding a positive and optimistic [word] in your mind, you stimulate frontal lobe activity. This area includes specific language centers that connect directly to the motor cortex responsible for moving you into action. And as our research has shown, the longer you concentrate on positive words, the more you begin to affect other areas of the brain. Functions in the parietal lobe start to change, which changes your perception of yourself and the people you interact with. A positive view of yourself will bias you toward seeing the good in others, whereas a negative self-image will include you toward suspicion and doubt. Over time the structure of your thalamus will also change in response to your conscious words, thoughts, and feelings, and we believe that the thalamic changes affect the way in which you perceive reality.”
Words are energy in the form of vibrations, and our vibrations create our reality. The Bible says that God said “Let there be light” and spoke it into existence; sound became form. A similar story of sound creating the world is told in Hinduism and Native American tribes.
What if our words created a feedback loop? What if we have an experience and, instead of harvesting the good from it, we instead complain about it over and over — could we simply be creating more of that same experience? And what if instead we chose to focus on the positive? It could dramatically shift the way we view ourselves, other people and the world around us; we may find ourselves becoming a magnet for positivity.
Beyond simply saying “focus on the good,” how can we shift our language to be more conscious? Think of transforming your language as an experiment: Shift your words and see if your reality begins to shift. What do you have to lose, after all? Here’s a few ways I’ve been experimenting with this concept lately:
WATCH YOUR EXAGGERATIONS
Exaggeration and hyperbole can be fun. Especially during this period of uncertainty and unrest in the world, it sometimes feels as if we’re living in our own reality TV series and we find comfort and camaraderie in bonding with others through misery. But those exaggerations can become a slippery slope because over time we start believing them and creating our reality around them.
So often you hear people say things like “I’m the worst,” “I’m having the day from hell,” “I hate myself,” etc. Yes, it’s hyperbole for comic effect — but your subconscious mind doesn’t know the difference between hyperbole and truth. Consider what kind of experience you may be creating with those statements, and try reworking your words to better reflect your true reality and what you want to create.
SURROUND YOURSELF WITH AFFIRMING STATEMENTS
As a society we have a tendency to surround ourselves with negativity that we dismiss as harmless. For instance, complaining about how horrible Mondays are seems to be a national pastime — it’s on coffee mugs, t-shirts, memes, everywhere. By declaring Mondays terrible and something to be dreaded, we don’t even give ourselves a chance to have an amazing Monday.
Instead, what if you surround yourself with positive statements that reflect what you want to create in your life? Try writing positive affirming statements on Post-it notes and sticking them where you’ll see them often. Instead of wishful statements like “I want…” or negative statements like “I must stop…”, focus on strong, present statements like “I am…” or “I embody…” You may be amazed by what you can create.
REFRAME NEGATIVE THOUGHTS TO POSITIVE ONES
Shifting out of negative thought patterns can seem like an uphill battle that’s impossible to defeat, but it simply takes determined effort and repetition. When you find yourself going into a negative space in your mind — such as veering into critical self-talk or replaying worst case scenarios — practice catching yourself and making a conscious shift. Hone your ability to immediately redirect your thoughts into something positive, like “I’m doing the best that I can” or “I am safe right now.” If you find yourself gossiping or getting caught up in negative talk with others, catch yourself and shift: Try turning the topic to something positive.
When you realize how powerful language is, you can step into the role of 100% creator of your own reality. So look around at what you’re creating. If there’s something in your life you don’t like, pay attention to how you speak about it. Shift your language and see what happens. I’ll leave you with another powerful quote from Robert Tennyson Stevens: “Speak and think only what you choose to have come into reality, now and continuously.” Are you ready to get curious about your language and try a more conscious approach?