If changing seasons have taught me anything at all it is this:
Our words are our greatest power in defining our outlook, and so our future.
While it might seem that I have oversimplified this idea, I know from experience that William Golding was right in the Lord of the Flies: “The greatest ideas are the simplest.” The truth of this concept is such a foundational part of who I am that the sparkle of its thread is easily identified in everything I do, think and say. I continue to invest into my own empowerment, and the empowerment of those around me, by exploring and clarifying how words can produce the best possible outcome in any and every situation.
Most of us don’t think much about the words we use. We think about the things we want, the things we do, the things we have, but do we ever listen to ourselves so that we know what we are saying to ourselves and those around us? Do we ever consider what we are creating with the words we repeat to ourselves?
It’s been said that words are thoughts, and without them we can’t think. We have around 50,000 thoughts per day, some say 70,000, but did you know that 95% of those thoughts are simply old ones on repeat? Only 5% of our thoughts are hot off our mental press, meaning that the words filling our mind today are almost identical to the ones that were there yesterday. Our brain is the best autopilot around, but this repeat cycle does nothing for us when we want to change, or respond to a change that came at us out of the blue.
The good news is that we can choose the words we say to ourselves, so we can actually start to put this mental repetition to work for us. As we start to explore who we are by examining the words we think and say, we enter the inner part of ourselves that can be changed by choosing new words. It’s important to notice the script that is already there, because this will need to be actively discarded and replaced by the new words you choose.
I went through a very humbling journey recently as I listened to the default response I gave when people asked, “How are you?” Without missing a beat I would say I was doing well, only to follow up with how hard I had been working and how many trials I was trying to overcome. This response must have been created at some stage of my working class background, in a society that wears hardship like a badge of honour. But, as an adult powerful to choose my own outlook, this sounded ugly to me. It was like I heard myself for the first time that day. In a strange combination of shame at what I had found, and excitement of what was to come, I decided to change the way I spoke. I was keen to alter those discouraging, defeated words to make them more positive and uplifting, and then delete the old words from my identity script, forever. I always want to choose words that create encouragement, success and advancement.
Now I respond by telling people I am well, and I say something wonderful that has happened for me lately. Then, I ask how they are, and typically I receive a reply like my own, because my words have set a different pace for the conversation. Everybody wins! There are no excuses for complaining that life is too hard. Even in my hardest days my friends are kind, the world is genuinely beautiful, and opportunity awaits. The sun is always shining above the darkest storm. If I say it’s not impossible, then it never is.
You are the only person in the entire world who can master the power of your thoughts and language. Only you can choose the words that make a positive shift in your life. To use our words with creative power, we all need to deliberately, strategically break into who we are to change what we find. We need to unlock the things that we think and the things that we say to transform how we see the world. Because How you see determines What you see.