Words Create Our Reality
Introduction: Heather Hansen offers a fascinating guest post in which she explores the power of words to influence how we feel and act in life. Those of you who have heard me lecture, know that I agree with over 20 years’ research that concludes resilience can indeed be taught. It begins with the patterns we create in our minds.
Now read Heather’s words… and decide what reality YOU wish to create.
The words you use impact your confidence. When you speak to yourself nicely, you’re bound to feel nice about yourself. When you give yourself the gift of praise, you start to shine. Some people even believe that the words you use when talking to yourself can impact your health as well.
For example, Dr. Masaru Emoto was a Japanese author famous for his water experiments. His published work “Messages from Water” contains experiments with words and photographs of ice crystals.(5) He’d put water in different containers and speak to each container differently. With some he’d use kind, supportive, and loving words, and with others he’d use hateful, negative words. The water that he’d spoken to with loving words contained beautiful crystals under the microscope, while the water that he’d spoken to with hateful words was ugly under the microscope.
Question: If up to 60 percent of the human body is water, are you running on mostly mud or mostly crystals?
Canadian author Danielle LaPorte followed up Emoto’s water experiment with an experiment done on Instagram and dubbed #theappleexperiment. She encouraged people to cut an apple in half and put half in a jar and speak to it with positive, loving words. The other half went in another jar, where people spoke to it in hateful words. The pictures of the apples on social media appear to show that the apple that received the loving words was less rotten, brown, and shriveled. Words impact reality.
The words we use also influence how we see things. One of my favorite examples involves keys, and it helps to remind me that words are the key to advocating. In the French language the word key is feminine, and in the German language the word key is masculine. Researchers asked native French speakers who had lived in the United States and spoke fluent English to describe keys. They also asked native German speakers who had lived in the United States for years and spoke fluent English to describe keys. The French described keys as tiny, delicate, and intricate. The Germans described them as heavy and strong.(6) The words they used influenced the way they saw the keys. Words influence the way you see the world as well.
The words you use create pathways. If you look at a path in the woods or in the snow, it’s created by repetition. People have walked that same way over and over until it has created a path for others to follow. Recent research on the neuroplasticity of the brain tells us that our neural pathways respond the same way. Our brains create actual physical paths when we act the same say, do the same things, or speak the same words. Those become our neural pathways, and in time they determine who we are. When you want to influence and persuade your Inner Jury, you have to be intentional about the words you use and the pathways you create.
You have to know what words mean—what is the definition of the ones you’re using—and be aware of how you’re using them in your inner self talk. Once you’re keenly aware of the words you’re choosing in talking to yourself, you can more carefully use them to advocate.
(5) Masaru Emoto, Messages from Water and the Universe (Carlsbad, CA: Hay House, 2010)
(6) Lera Boroditsky and Lauren A. Schmidt, “Sex, Syntax, and Semantics,” Proceedings of the Annual Meeting of the Cognitive Science Society, 22 (2000); retrieved from https://escholarship.org/uc/item/0tj9w8zf.
This excerpt of Advocate to Win: 10 Tools to Ask for What You Want and Get It was provided by Heather Hansen. Heather Hansen is the author of the bestseller The Elegant Warrior: How to Win Life’s Trials Without Losing Yourself. She is also the host of The Elegant Warrior podcast. She is an attorney, has psychology degree and is a trained mediator, coach, consultant as well as an anchor at the Law & Crime Network. Heather has appeared on NBC, Fox News, CNN, MSNBC, CBS, and Sirius Radio.