What did you envision when you read that blog title? Were you thinking of a person, a place, an item? Combination thereof? We tend to think of powerful things like actions taken or tools used, usually wielded by a person. That action or tool also makes that person powerful. An external item that we use as an extension of ourselves to interact with, and mold the world around us. People wield the most powerful thing in the world. It’s pretty simple, words. Words are the tools that we, people, wield all the time.

That words have power is definitely not a new concept. “The pen is mightier than the sword,” the famous phrase written by English author Edward Bulwer-Lytton in 1839. That phrase has continued in use for over 150 years. Not new, but a forgotten power, I think. We wield the most powerful thing on the planet, and yet we fling it out there into the world without taking a moment to think about what we are sending out into the world. And how that is being perceived by others and also by ourselves.

There is a reason that wizards, witches, and other magical folk use spoke words to cast spells.  One of my favorite scenes in Lord of the Rings is when Gandalf the Grey is standing on the bridge of Khazad-dûm, and the Balrog of Morgoth (giant fiery bull looking creature) is chasing him across the bridge. Gandalf turns to make a stand and bellows, “I am a servant of the Secret Fire, wielder of the flame of Anor. You cannot pass! The dark fire will not avail you, the flame of Udûn. Go back to the Shadow! You cannot pass!”

By declaring those words, Gandalf slows the Balrog’s advancement on the bridge. The power of those words also causes the bridge to crumble from underneath the Balrog and Gandalf. They both fall into the fiery pits, and you know what happens next. If you don’t, I am not going to spoil it for you (it also may be that I am going to write a blog post about it – spoilers people).  The key is that Gandalf used his words to push back the Balrog.

Remember from childhood that adage that “sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” So NOT true. Okay, the sticks and stones bit is valid, the words not hurting your part, not so much. Words can break you. They can break your mind, your will, and your belief in yourself and others. That is very powerful. The things that people say to each other, even the things that people say to themselves, those words are powerful, and they can inflict pain and suffering. Or they can lift people up.

Don’t take my word for it. There is some science stuff to back this up. University of Wisconsin-Madison cognitive scientist and psychology professor Gary Lupyan and Emily Ward, then a Yale University graduate student, published a study that shows the power of words. The article, entitled “Language Can Boost Otherwise Unseen Objects Into Visual Awareness,” published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, demonstrates that one word can alter what people see. One word can affect what we see and how we experience the world around us. One word can change what you see.  That is all it takes, a single word.

That is pretty extraordinary that a single word holds so much power. Think about this. A person stands in front of their mirror, getting ready to go to work in the morning. They tell themselves how fat they look or ugly. What they see is just their reflection, and then when they say those words, “I am fat,” “I am ugly,” etc., those words change what they see. Instead of seeing themselves, they see a fat person. Instead of seeing themselves as a person, they see someone who is ugly. Saying those things to yourself over and over, day after day, pretty soon, that is what you see. That becomes your reality. I think then ends up being a negative feedback loop. You start by staying it, then it becomes your reality, then that is what you see, and now when you see yourself, you see that person, and it goes round and round—continuously feeding into itself.

You just created your own reality. Think about that. You have the power to mold the world around you; to mold yourself. It’s not all doom and gloom though, or at least it doesn’t have to be. There is a silver lining to this cloud. Here’s the thing, the opposite is true. If that same person standing in front of the mirror every day were to say that they are fantastic or beautiful, they are going to have a great day that then becomes their reality. Soon that is what that person will see. And they won’t have to think about it.

I get it. I used to think daily mantras were a load of BS. Or that putting up pictures of what you would like to accomplish as your goal. I thought that stuff doesn’t work. Well, I was wrong. And thank goodness that I am. I am so happy to be wrong about that. Changing your inner dialogue or outer dialogue or whatever dialogue you are having, does, and can affect you and those around you.

So go ahead – change your reality. Mold your world the way you want it to be. Put those daily mantras on sticky notes and post them everywhere and anywhere that they are going to help you. Put the power of words to work for you and not against you. Wield those words in the world to change things for the better. That is my challenge to you.

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