Powerful Words Can Change Your Life

powerful words

“Be careful of your thoughts; they may become words at any moment.” ~Ira Gassen

The spoken word has incredible power.

If you can harness that power and put it to work in a positive way, you can change your life and become a happier, more successful person. This isn't new age psychobabble — there's science behind it.

I've become fascinated with the science of neuroplasticity and the impact it has on our ability to change in positive ways and live happier lives. Neuroplasticity is a term that describes the ability of the brain to change and adapt in response to stimuli, cognitive demands, and new learning. As a result, the brain can create new neural pathways and connections.

For the damaged or disabled brain (such as people with strokes or brain injuries), plasticity allows the brain to repair or reroute damaged neural pathways so a person can re-learn to use functions previously lost to brain damage. With repetitive practice, a stroke victim can learn to re-use an affected limb because other parts of the brain begin to take over the movement function for that limb.

For me and you in our everyday lives, the adaptable brain allows us to make profound positive changes if we're willing to do the work. One area where this work has a daily practical application is with our words and the language we use. 

If you repetitively think negative thoughts, you're actually strengthening neural pathways in your brain that support continued negative thinking. Negative thinking leads to negative feelings, and negative feelings impact your relationships, work, motivation and sense of well-being.

Now, if you speak your negative thoughts and put your feelings into words, you are exponentially reinforcing your brain to remain in that negative thought pattern. If your language is filled with fearful comments, self-condemnation, negative remarks about others, complaints, or self-pity, you are literally talking yourself into more of the same.

Alternatively, if you focus your mind on positive and affirming thoughts, even if you don't feel happy or positive in the moment, you will stimulate and reinforce the “happy” part of your brain. With repetitive practice, your feelings will change for the better, supported by a stronger happy brain function.

If you want to accelerate the process of feeling great about yourself and your life, change your language to reflect your positive thinking. Speaking words puts action behind thought. It gives momentum and reality to the thought.

Changing your language is the first real action step toward changing your life for the better.

Now, I suspect some might see this positive talk as too Pollyanna. Well it might be. You don't have to believe it at first to begin the practice of retraining your brain. You just have to speak the words and try to put some feeling behind them. As with physical exercise, you get stronger and more motivated as you continue the practice.

Awareness of your own thought and language habits is the key to this work.

If you accept and embrace (and I hope you do) that you can change your life by changing your thoughts and words, then you must start paying attention to your thoughts and words.

Here are some ways that you can begin to incorporate new powerful words in your daily life:

1. Language starts with thought. Pay attention to your thoughts, and whenever you catch yourself in a negative thought pattern, bring it to a screeching halt. Immediately say out loud, “Stop!” Break the pattern by speaking or singing something to distract you from the negative thoughts. Repeat this for five minutes to unlock the negative pattern.

2. Start your day with verbal intention. When you wake up, go to your mirror and have a chat with yourself. State out loud your intention for how your day will proceed. For example, say something like, “I intend to have a joyful, fun and productive day filled with positive and successful interactions and events.”

3. Use car time as self-talk time. My friend Steve Chandler who is a speaker and coach uses his time in the car to practice his coaching and speaking skills out loud. Instead of listening to negative news on the radio or feeling anxious about traffic, use the time in the car to repeat positive affirmations about yourself or to rehearse a positive conversation or presentation. You may feel goofy doing this, but do it anyway. This verbal activity will reinforce the feelings behind the words you are speaking.

4. Disengage from negative conversations. When other people start kvetching about their day or some co-worker or politics, politely excuse yourself from the conversation. If that's not possible, do what you can to steer the conversation in a more positive direction. Whatever you do, don't participate in this pessimistic discourse. There is nothing positive that will come from it.

5. Express gratitude. Several times a day, take a moment to look around you and verbally acknowledge what you are grateful for. I just did this little exercise as I am writing this post and expressed gratitude for my computer, my ability to write, the people who will be reading my post, the bird on the limb outside my window, the books on my desk. You get the picture. Good things are all around us, and if we take the time to see them and speak thanks for them, we begin to feel uplifted and happy.

6. Follow difficult words with action words. There are times when we do have to speak about negative, painful or unpleasant things. During these times, speaking about our pain helps us unburden ourselves from it. It is a necessary part of healing. But once the burden begins to lift, follow up with words and discussion around healing and action. Speak about feeling better and moving forward even before you feel ready to do so. You will be paving the path for yourself as you take the first step toward healing and happiness.

7. Include writing in the mix. If you really want to give your brain a double whammy, write down your affirmations, words of gratitude or positive thoughts, before you speak them. Writing about these ideas is another reinforcing action step that sends signals to the pre-frontal cortex, stimulating feelings of joy.

8. Do the work consistently. Strengthening your brain and transforming your thoughts and feelings takes practice. Like exercise, the work must be done regularly and with intensity if you want to see results.

Commit to pro-actively speaking positive affirmations and words of gratitude at least three times a day. Pay attention to your thoughts and words all the time. Regularly remove yourself from negative conversations. Rate your level of happiness and contentment on a scale of one to ten as you begin this work, and then rate yourself again after a month or two to see how you are progressing.

Positive, powerful words are tools that can set you free and change your life. Choose them wisely.

Comments

  1. I love seeing a neuroplasticity approach to positivity. I’ve never seen that before. Though in terms of not talking to someone on the basis of politics I have to disagree. On the condition that it is an intelligent conversation with no name calling, and solutions are being looked for we need to talk about the hard stuff. We need to talk more about the taboo topics that no one wants to talk about, and we need to learn to do it in a way that does not insult others and does look for action. Doing otherwise continues the society wide repression that avoids looking for solutions and allows things to worsen.

  2. Barrie Davenport says:

    Justin,

    Thank you for your comment. I do agree with you about politics, and maybe I should have left that off the list. Although some conversations around politics aren’t as civil as you describe. In fact, it seems many of them become polarizing and angry. Those are the conversations it seems best to avoid in my opinion. Solution oriented conversations are positive and beneficial. I just don’t hear many of those in our current political environment! Sadly . . .
    Enjoyed your perspective. Please keep commenting!

    Barrie

  3. Great article and insight Barrie.

    Words (written or spoken) carry a lot of power. They are a reflection of our thoughts and attitudes.
    The spoken word carries vibrational energy that shape our experience. Your advice is right on!

  4. Thanks Manal! I’m so glad you liked the post.

  5. Jeanne Spencer says:

    Justin’s comment was interesting. Having an intelligent conversation with someone about a difficult topic is good – especially if the individuals involved are mature and can trust one another. But I’ve had the experience before where someone uses the opportunity to complain about politics, teachers, co-workers, etc. and it usually just makes me feel angry or frustrated. Definately leaves me feeling negative, and I find myself trying to avoid these toxic people or subjects. Having said that, I am grateful for the support of my friends and family and their willingness to listen. I’m also going to focus more on positive thoughts and comments.

    Thanks for bringing this to my attention with your article, Barrie!

  6. Barrie, neural plasticity is such a great topic. The research offers hope not only to the stroke victim, but to anyone who may be on the verge of realizing that they can change the way they think. So many people can’t hear themselves – they have no idea that they are negatively programming themselves with their words and thoughts. Awareness is the first step toward positive change.

  7. Thanks for this fantastic article, Barrie. In addition to my method of getting rid of negative thoughts which is praying and reading aloud bible verses, I’ll also apply the methods which you have listed here.

    I’m subscribing to your wonderful blog and be visiting regularly.
    .-= Alex´s last blog ..How To Whiten White Clothes Efficiently =-.

    • Barrie Davenport says:

      Hi Alex,
      Those are great additions. Thank you! And I really appreciate your following my blog.
      Best,
      Barrie

  8. Barrie, I too am interested in Justin’s comment and think he makes a good point. I’m a big believer in polite discourse with people whose opinion is diferent from mine. And these days, so many topics such as health and diet, have become politicized. It’s nearly impossible to avoid politics altogether, even when you want to.

    The key is to be respectful of the opinions of others but not to engage with people who fail to show respect for your opinion.
    .-= Madeleine Kolb´s last blog ..Meatless Mondays: Why & How =-.

    • Barrie Davenport says:

      Hi Madeleine,
      You are so right — polite discourse is a lovely thing. But where do you find it? Now that would be a great blog — The Polite Discourse Society. A place for people to share their views with respect.
      Maybe my next project . . .
      Thanks Madeleine!

  9. Barrie,

    A fantastic post, just like so many of your posts I’m realizing. I enjoyed it so much I wanted to share it with my readers on my weekly Cups of Tea that posts today (June 13th). Thank you for continuing to inspire and remind a life of optimism and attaining a lovely life is always possible.
    Have a beautiful day. =)
    .-= Simply Luxurious´s last blog ..Cups of Tea 6/6 –6/12 =-.

    • Barrie Davenport says:

      Thank you so much! You have made my day. I would love for you to share the post. Now I’m going to have to go visit Cups of Tea!
      I really appreciate your kind comments.
      Best,
      Barrie

  10. Gassho Barrie,

    I am tickled into giggling out loud ~ when the student is ready YOU showed up!
    How de-lightfilled! Yes?

    In Metta,
    Jalus

    Namaste’

  11. This is an insightful post Barrie,
    For me, we should think faster than we talk. I also keep in mind that like in writing words, we also must proofread in our mind the words we intend to say. The words we write and we say reflects our personality. They can even become swords that we can use to either harm or save people. I choose saving and helping people.
    .-= Vic´s last blog ..101 Self Improvement Tips to Optimize Your Life =-.

    • Barrie Davenport says:

      I agree Vic — we do think faster than we talk. And sometimes there isn’t a filter between our thoughts and our words! That filter can help change our words from swords to jewels. Thank you for your insightful comment.

  12. chris albert says:

    Hi Barrie,
    Your article is spot on. Our words do shape our lives. I think that is why God gave us two ears and one mouth. Listen more and speak less. Negative talk does not help anybody. I understand at times we have to speak out about negative things. However, even then it can be spoken with grace. The Bible in the book of James chapter three speaks much about the power of the tongue. It declares that anyone who is able to control their tongue is a perfect person. It illustrates the power of the tongue by indicating it to be like a small rudder that directs a large ship. God declares in the bible that life and death are in the power of the tongue. “Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and they who indulge in it shall eat the fruit of it.” (proverbs 18: 21) When we do get negative thoughts and feelings it is often wise to speak positively instead of succumbing to the negative. Yes, there is certainly spiritual truth to your article. Cheers!

  13. Thankyou for such an excellent article. Like other readers who have commented, I would use these principles as part of my Christian faith because they are very biblical in many respects. Proverbs 23 verse 7 says that “as a man thinks, so is he.” Proverbs 18 verse 21 tells us that life and death are in the power of the tongue.” Moreover, as thoughts can lead to words and actions that bring life or death, it’s so vital to have positive thoughts. Ephesians 4 verse 23 says to “be renewed in the spirit of your mind.” I believe that this creates new neural pathways that are beneficial to us. Finally, Philippians 4 verse 8 tells us to think (meditate) on things that are true, honest, just, pure, lovely, and of good report. So often it’s fear and anxiety that can direct us into negative thoughts. The solution? 1 John 4 18 “Perfect love takes away fear.”

  14. I think those are the conversations it seems best to avoid in my opinion. Solution oriented conversations are positive and beneficial

  15. Leyu fentie says:

    Hi Barrie! I would like to take a moment to tell you a little about my life, I’m 21 years old and I have a 1year old son, 5 year old step son and my partner Andrew who is 23. Last year when my son was born he came 10 weeks early which left him in hospital for 3 months. I lost my way of life and thinking, I felt numb all the time and didn’t want to engage in any communication verbally and mentally! My mum sent me a link to a video on YouTube about the power of words which brought me to your blog tonight and to be honest it made me cry. I feel so close and personal to eery word that was written and it made me feel ashamed of myself for the way I have lived my life over the past year an what I have turned my life into! I then said aloud “stop” and thought Hey this is soo easy of you really want it to work! My partner and I continue tofight every day and put each other down more then twice a day not intentionaly but it has gotten to the point where it just comes naturally which is sad because I love Andrew with all my heart! We tend to have short tempers when it comes to the kids and NEVER spend any time together during the week and on weekends we try to avoid eachother because we know we will fight! Now reading back over what I wrote it’s all negative! I am shocked at myself! From this day on I’m keeping your blog printed out in my diary so I can remind myself how lucky I am to have everything I do! I will tell me husband how much I love him and share your words with him! Thank you so much for giving me and many others out there the push we need to change our lives! You are someone with great respect and I am forever greatful towards you! I know it’s now up to me to make the positive change and I know I WILL do it! Many thanks once again, Leyu!

  16. Barrie,

    This is a great post. I am very interested in neuroplasticity, and how we can use it to heal after trauma, as well as improve our daily lives. I have also been disengaging from situations that are negative and unsupportive, and OMG what a relief! Establishing a ‘No Drama’ intention really frees up a lot on energy :-). It also means being willing to walk away.

  17. Hi Barrie,
    I was just notified of this article by one of my friends, and absolutely LOVE what you have so clearly explained this idea. One thing I think would help me – and might help others as well – is, when feeling a bit less than positive, and feeling inclined to complain or talk about a difficulty, is to have pre-prepared a few highly charged and positive statements on a 3×5 card. This way, if we’re having a set-back or “moment” and cannot think quickly enough to bring ourselves back to a more positive state, we have a quick reference to help us.

    Actually – it might not be a bad idea to have prepared a FEW of these cards – and have them conveniently within reach, and ready to grab and read from when we need to switch our brains into the positive mode.

    Ok, for example, let’s say I’m having a morning where I’m concerned about finances. It might initially be difficult to suddenly switch the brain to say positive gratitude statements without a little “nudge.” So, when I’m aware that I’m having the concern, I can grab my 3×5 card – which I’ll keep right at the computer and read my pre-prepared statements right then and there.

    The statements may be as simple as some of the simple things we can be thankful for (as you mentioned): “I AM so grateful for the fact that I have this computer where I can work…” or “I AM so grateful that I have ideas that I can put into action this very day to bring me closer to my goals.” Of course, the cards can have some of our affirmations as well to help us get back on track.

    Just a thought! See? You got me going! I may just have to write this idea for my own readers. I hope you won’t mind if I link to your post.

    Hugs!
    🙂 Kath

  18. Great article!

  19. Hi , great insights, I’ve heard about neuroplasticity before, but i don’t have any idea as to what it is, true indeed that positive words are tools that can change your life. Choose and USE them wisely. Great article Barrie, thanks for sharing.