How to Use The Power of Words to Change Your Reality
When I was training to be a therapist, I was really rather alarmed when my teacher said to me, “The mind is really complicated and complex. It takes a lifetime to understand and to master.” I thought, “Well, how is that going to work then? No one has got a lifetime to master their mind.” Furthermore, what is the use of being 80 years old and having finally worked out your mind? That is not helpful. I’ve been a therapist for more then 30 years now and I will tell you, it’s actually not true either. In this article I will share the secret of how to use the power of words to change your reality.
Let’s dive in!
Words are Powerful and Your Mind is Listening
Human mind has one simple job: keep you alive as long as possible. To do that, our mind is an expert at helping us avoid and flee what causes us pain or danger.
When we were living in tribes in the bush, this job was actually quite difficult. We had to flee predators, find water and food, and protect ourselves from the elements constantly. We were under physical threat far more often than we are today, and we were designed to respond to those stressors. Our bodies developed “fight or flight” responses which informed how we responded in times of stress, which usually involved large animals, angry tribesmen, or natural disasters.
The physical world has changed a lot since then. On a daily basis, most people in the modern world don’t have a direct threat to their physical well being. But there’s a fundamental design flaw here: our mind hasn’t changed much at all to reflect our new, safer and tamer reality. We are still primed for fight or flight responses to the stress and adversity life throws our way.
The difference now is that the stressors and roadblocks are less primal and more mental. Nevertheless, when we come onto the planet, our mind still believes in its one, singular job: keeping us alive. And how does it do that? By listening to our instructions we give it about what causes us pain.
This is why when we’re sitting in traffic in the morning, running late to work, and we spill our coffee all down our white top and say “This commute is killing me. This traffic is a nightmare. My boss is stressing me out. I’m dying under the pressure” our mind actually believes us. And so how does our body respond to these instructions? Well, it’s been told we’re under threat—Something is killing you! Your mind wants to keep you alive!—so your heart rate goes up, your cortisol levels increase, your body surges with hormones and you feel angry and lash out at your kid sitting in the back seat and send a rude text message to our colleague.
We tell our mind that it’s stressed, anxious and that we’re under direct threat, and lo and behold, it believes us. Hour after hour, day after day, our mind uses the language it hears us using to inform how it should feel.
The main lesson is, our mind is constantly listening and we should never underestimate the power of the words we use when talking to ourselves or others.
Your mind does what it thinks you want it to do
In the moment you’re sitting in traffic and allowing yourself to feel immense stress, your body is desperately trying to get you out of that situation because you are giving it all the indicators that sitting in the car is causing you great pain.
You are giving your mind instructions, through your words, that is triggering a physical fight or flight response. However, the truth is, being 15 minutes late to work in a stained white top doesn’t cause you any pain. Inconvenience, perhaps, but not the kind of stress one feels when their house is burning down, or they’re being chased by a wild boar.
Your mind doesn’t care. You’ve verbally expressed that you’re in pain and under threat, and thus your mind gives you all the symptoms and responses to help you flee it. The result? You just end up stressed and miserable.
Like all my teachings, this truth is based on science. Muscle testing is a technique that comes from the field of applied kinesiology. In a sense, muscle testing is like asking your subconscious mind a question with words and getting a physical answer from your body.
If you ask a question or test a statement that is untrue, “i.e. My name is Ed” when your name is not Ed, your body will have a “weak” response — that is, your arm will not be able to resist the person who is administering the test. If you say something true, however, your body will have a strong response and be able to resist.
Muscle testing proves that our bodies respond to things in a way we’re not always conscious of or in control of, similar to what happens when we’re sitting in traffic that we verbally call “hell on earth.” Remember that words are powerful, and your mind is always listening — so tell it what you want it to do!
How to Use the Power of Words to Shift Your Reality
I worked with a client who was totally overwhelmed by her life. Her children were hard to manage, her husband unhelpful, and her job left her feeling overstretched and underappreciated every day. During our session, I listened to the language she was using. She repeatedly said: “I can’t cope: I can’t cope with my badly behaved children, I can’t cope with how impossible my job is, I can’t cope with my constantly chaotic household.”
After she finished talking, I pointed out to her that she was frequently using the phrase “I can’t cope.” Immediately, she broke down: “Oh my goodness, my mother used to say that constantly.” This client had inherited that phrase—and by extension, that belief—from her mother, and was not taking responsibility for the words and pictures she was choosing. As a result, she had convinced herself that her life was one she could not cope with. This is how the power of words manifests itself in reality though influencing your mind.
We replaced that phrase “I can’t cope” with something more neutral: “I have phenomenal coping skills.” Every time she began to feel overwhelmed with her life, I instructed her to say out loud or to herself “I have phenomenal coping skills.” This subtle shift made her believe the phrase was true. By using different words, she created a different picture.
In a few weeks, she came back, feeling far more able to cope with her life, succeeding in her job, and getting on better with her kids and husband, who had noticed the change in her. But her life hadn’t changed at all — her beliefs about it had, which made it all the more bearable. She was a perfect example of the fact that to underachieve you have to fill your mind with negative thoughts and images and to overachieve you have to do the opposite.
Notice here that I didn’t instruct my client to say something that wasn’t true. Her job was hard, and her kids were a challenge. But by changing the overtly negative “My job is hell, my kids are badly behaved” to a more neutral version of events: “My job is demanding at times, and my kids can be a challenge, but I have phenomenal coping skills,” you immediately create less emotionally and negatively charged feelings towards it.
This isn’t about the power of positive thinking and pretending everything is rosy; indeed thinking positively when things objectively aren’t can be unhelpful and set up expectations that can’t always be fulfilled.
This is about actively re-framing the events of your life to reflect a different, more realistic picture. So, “I’m late again, I’ve messed up, I’m going to fail at all my tasks today” turns into: “I prefer to be on time, but I can still do this, I can get through the day in a manageable fashion.” With the latter phrase, you’re not pretending you’re superman or woman, but you are encouraging yourself to not expect the worst whilst believing in yourself .
Almost all of us talk to ourselves, but few of us examine the way we talk to ourselves. And we forget the power of words and how they can shift our perseption of ourselves and situations.
When you pay close attention to the words and phrases you’re constantly saying to yourself you identify some repeat offenders — such as my client’s “I can’t cope” refrain. Ask yourself: Would you talk to your best friend that way? Would you say “Oh, you’re always messing things up,” “You’re so hopeless,” or “You really have taken on way too much, you’ll never get it all done.”
Chances are, if you’re a good friend, you won’t dream of saying those things. Instead, you would be kind and encouraging and helpful. As a friend, you might say: “Life isn’t perfect, but we all do the best we can,” or “I’m sure you’ll get through it, and I’ll help you.” So ask yourself what might happen if you choose to talk to yourself how you might address a friend? Be kind and encouraging and supportive of yourself, and you’ll be amazed how much easier the world around you seems to become.
Learning about the power of words and the human mind is a fascinating and intriguing field of study that has been proven to be able to help people in just about every area of life. If you are interested in even more advanced tools to make greater changes in your life or the lives of others, watch this free Rapid Transformational Therapy masterclass.