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Words Are Powerful & Affect Our Relationships & Mental Health

Words; we use them a lot, yet think about the consequences very little.  Like a tennis ball machine, we let our words pop, pop, pop out towards our target.  Sometimes those words make people feel good, sometimes they make us feel good, and other times they inflame a situation and lead to personal stress and arguments.

Why Are Words So Powerful?

Words have certain connotations.  Use a word and you embrace its power.  That power infiltrates your mind and body and, if you have company, the atmosphere between two people.

Let’s say you’re feeling angry.  If you say, “I feel enraged” or if you say “I feel hacked off”, the difference in how the words “enraged” and “hacked off” will make you feel is quite vast.  This is because both words are frequently used in certain ways.  Enraged is what we might frequently hear when watching documentaries about murderers or convicts.  Hacked off is less likely to be used in such a situation yet we might hear people at work saying it when moaning about the boss, or hear someone use it in a supermarket or in a bar.

When a word is used, you instantly pull through the associations you have tied to that word. Those associations then influence the present moment, including the feelings of all those who hear it!

If Words Are So Powerful, We Need To Be Selective

I recently published an article about what happens to our brain and body, and the brain and body of others, when speaking negative words.  It initiates the fight-or-flight response mode in all those concerned.  In addition to that, however, we can intensify our own feelings about things and influence other people’s feelings about things, just by using certain words. Why? As above, because the moment we use a word, we are accessing associations we have stored in our mind’s library.

Imagine you’re having an argument with someone.  You want to reach a solution and conclusion, but one word is uttered and the argument has suddenly become a blazing row and you feel so miserable and disheartened.  Think about the power of the words used:

  • What might have been said and what could have been said differently?
  • Did you make your own feelings hit rock bottom in that moment or did they?
  • Did you really mean what you just said or was the word and its connotation, used merely for effect?
  • Did you even consciously intend to convey that connotation or did you simply use that words out of habit?

Words Have The Power To Affect Our Mood & Subsequent Behaviour

The words we say to ourselves and others affect our mood.  A person’s mood affects the actions they take, i.e. their behaviour.  One’s behaviour affects the results they get.  Those results feed back into our thought processes which in turn influence our emotions.  This is commonly referred to as the thought-feedback cycle.

We can take conscious control over the thoughts and subsequent emotions we create, by respecting the power of words.  By being mindful of the affect of words on health, happiness and relationships we can make better decisions about the words we use.

It’s always a choice, for example, you can use:

  • Bewildered or confused
  • Ecstatic or joyful
  • Problem or challenge
  • Privileged or pleased
  • Fuming or angry

Now I know some of you will be thinking, but Sam, I might be feeling like I’m fuming instead of just angry; the question is, would saying “very angry” still be less inflaming and disrupt your clarity of thinking less than saying “fuming”?  You need to correctly identify your emotions but there is a difference between correctly labelling your emotion and making the emotion (or an argument or the atmosphere in a group) more intense than it need be, by giving it more intensity with the word chosen.  It’s a bit like the chicken and the egg scenario.  Get the balance right and you’ll feel happier, less stressed and have less relationship discord if you do!

For those who want to hear me speak about this topic a little more, watch this 3.5 minutes BBC1 interview…