What We Say Matters

“Turn off the tele, you lazy son of a b^*&h!” screeched Doris, the ten-year-old African Grey parrot as she cocked head eyeing me in the consult room. Her gentle-looking elderly guardians looked at me embarrassed and sheepishly explained,” We rescued her a few years ago from a couple in an abusive relationship. We didn’t teach her that!” The words that continue to spew out from our feathered friend were both expletive and colourful. The only logical thing to do at that moment (for me) is to laugh and luckily, the guardians joined me!

The parrot merely copied the words that she heard in her environment and repeated them for her own entertainment or her own accord. Whether she understands the meaning and implication of those words remain a mystery. There are no studies (that I know of) that compare the choice of language, verbiage, or words to the physical, emotional or psychological well-being of speaking parrots.

In humans, however, it is an entirely different matter. All of your actions are derived from your thoughts. All deeds follow thoughts. To put it simply, all your habits, actions, and results are directly affected by what goes on in your head. You have a self-image. It is simply how you see yourself. It can be extremely different from how others see you. The question is, what do you tell yourself every day about the person you think are?

Some people apologize profusely all the time (you know the type I am referring to). They are always saying ‘Sorry’ like their lives depended on it. They are sorry when you fail (even when you recovered well), about the food they cook (even though it is delicious), over outcomes they could not possibly affect (like the weather or your interview), when you drop something (though they are in a different room) and others matters that has absolutely nothing to with them, and yet they are sorry. If you keep feeding the word ‘Sorry’ to your mind, what do you think your mind will feel and think about yourself? You will inadvertently feel sorry for yourself! Have you been around someone like that? How does that make you feel? Apologetic and sorry? Do you find yourself mirroring their actions and start saying ‘sorry’ as well?

Imagine another person who wakes up daily and said, “I feel amazing and today is going to be a great day!” They are likely to radiate positivity, bring great energy, and refresh all around just by being there. A simple sentence like this will form the basis of his thoughts and feelings for that moment that would increase the likelihood of it actually coming through. More importantly, it makes him feel better about himself. Do you know someone like that? How do you feel being around a person like that?

You may say, “But what if I do not feel that way? I feel stupid and false saying it”. I would simply say, “How does that person who kept saying ‘Sorry’ feel?” He certainly felt sorry though there was no reason to. Just like how it would work for him to feel that way by simply saying the word ‘sorry’, you would get similar effects saying positive affirmations about yourself and your life.

You tell a story every day. The person that listens most to your story is yourself. The person whom you spent the longest with daily is looking at you in the mirror. What story are you feeding yourself? Words are such powerful tools. When you think of a word, it sits in your mind and your mind starts to digest it. When you actually say it out loud, that effect is amplified and enhanced. It becomes your mental environment. Over time, it becomes you.

There are over 170,000 words in the Oxford Dictionary. Choose your words wisely in all you say. For example, when someone says, “How are you?”. The most common answers are “Fine, thank you”, “Good, thank you” or “Not bad”. It is almost like an autopilot response. If you listen to the verbiage and understand the meaning, it is actually horrible! Being ‘fine’ and ‘good is not how we want to live our lives. We want to live an amazing life! ‘Not bad’ is even worse. It almost implies our life is usually bad and today is an exception. What if you change your answer? What if you replied with “Amazing”, “Fabulous!”, “Never been better!”.  Whether it is true or not, the feeling you will derive will feel different, a better different. Try it!

I would like to offer you three exercises. If you are not sure, just try one. If you want astounding results, do all three.

  1. Every morning, when you look in the mirror, say, “I am beautiful and I am worth it!”
  2. When someone asks, “How are you?”, you will reply either “Amazing” or Never been better!” (with positive energy and gusto, of course!)
  3. Tell your loved one, “I love you”.

‘Words are the clothes thoughts wear’ – Samuel Beckett

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