Words have power

It isn't just the words you say but also the words you allow in your head that control what you get in life

I once stood on a stage surrounded by very clever and talented professionals and asked for a volunteer. I was teaching them the art of communication and how to get what you want from every conversation. 

I wanted to showcase to them the very real need to understand the power of words.

How it wasn’t just the words you say but the words you allow in your head that control what you get in life.

I asked my slightly nervous volunteer to put their arms out at a 90-degree angle from their body and not let my hands push their arms down.

I’m not strong thanks to Lupus, so it was easy for them to resist me. 

The audience looked on, happy they weren’t on the stage, and then I asked my now confident volunteer to do it again. This time I said horrible things to them. Things like “Wow you suck. You really stood on this stage in front of all these people, why do you bother?” 

Cruel right?

By the second phrase their strength was going and by the 4th their hands were dropped down by their sides.

Now thoroughly miserable and regretting being a willing volunteer I asked them to put their hands out by their sides again. You can imagine how nervous they were!

The audience were gripped – just as every speaker wants! However, I was keen to put my volunteer out of their misery. Sometimes the only way we will take on board something is by experiencing it for ourselves (I wish people would just accept things and not have to suffer to get what they want in life!)

This volunteer was now in a tricky place. Trying to remain calm, act like it’s funny and no big deal but also nervous as to what’s coming next. When we are nervous our bodies respond differently. Adrenaline is released and our muscles can experience pain easier. We can literally become weaker as our body prioritises key areas. So, this third experiment was not feeling good to my volunteer.

Up went the arms but this time I said really lovely things to them. “I’m so glad you helped me, thank you, it shows what a nice person you are; I love your jacket, it really suits you” Theoretically after reducing their strength and with nervous tension wracking their body, I should have been able to move their arms.

I couldn’t. 

Faith restored that I wasn’t a cruel human, they laughed but were also amazed how easily words had altered their body's strength. Words really do have power!

Getting a room full of professionals to say mean things to each other and then be extra nice is funny, but it hides something we all know yet few really utilise to get what they want in life.

We know the saying “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me”, right? However how many have been at the end of volatile cruel words and bullying, and can say that the pain never really left?

I can quickly spot those hidden dips in confidence, and they are often related to the dialogue that goes on unchecked in your mind.

Mandie Holgate at a speaking event

The quickest way to spot the power of words on you is to answer these questions (don’t over think it – first response gut instinct answers only):

  • What’s the first thought you have when washing your hands as you look in the mirror?

  • You’re asked to do something new and it’s a great opportunity. What’s your first thought?

  • If someone finds fault with you on a personal level, what is your first thought? 

How do all these questions impact on your actions?

Fight the Fear, book by best selling author Mandie Holgate

In my best-selling book "Fight the fear" I walk people through how the way we feel, impacts on the actions we take and the results we get.

The way you feel is directly related to the way you see yourself and the way you self-talk.

So, if you find your life is not as you would like, look for the dips in confidence and the self-talk you allow. I like to tell clients that if you wouldn’t say it to your best friend, don’t say it to yourself.

Go back to the first question I asked. Were the thoughts you had about your appearance positive or negative?

Don’t look to love who you are once you lose weight, have a face lift or get fitter. Love yourself before hand and it doesn’t matter what life does to you, you will still look in the mirror and be grateful for who you are. If you struggle with this, I’ve lots of strategies that raise your awareness and then help you alter your self-talk. Start by noticing what you say, don’t alter it, just notice it. Then learn to say “No. Again don’t look to change the language, just say No. Then after you become competent at these two stages learn to say something nice about yourself. No one but you know the words in your head – so say some nice ones for a change!

Now take the second question. How do new things make you feel?

Excited? Happy? Grateful? Or Scared? Frightened to fail and not up to the challenge? It’s amazing how many people convince themselves that they aren’t capable or good enough before they’ve any evidence to that! When this happens to you, write down all the occasions where you achieved something and if you are sat there thinking “There aren’t any Mand!” then I know you are lying to me and you. You’ve successful ready 938 words of this article. I therefore already know you are persistent, capable of learning (to read) and interested in finding a better way. So, write those down for starters!

There’s often a disparity between what we know to be true and what we let our minds tell us is true.

Writing down occasions you succeeded or took on new challenges fuels your mind to be positive. And remember, positive thoughts create positive emotions. It’s a lot easier to achieve things when you are positive, and you are more likely to get the results you want, too! 

When someone finds fault with us it’s interesting to note how we feel about it.

Do you assume that they are right, and you need to change? Do you assume that you are a bad person or not worthy? Do you dread occasions where this critical person will be? Is it a critical sister or mother that induces feelings of self-loathing?

Allowing someone else into your head to control how you feel about yourself is ludicrous, however, don’t beat yourself up about it. I’ve seen many a successful business owner, professional or even millionaire in a coaching session share feelings of worthlessness as a result of someone else invading their brain space.

There are many ways to keep other people out of your head. Start by understanding how it impacts on you. Do you shut down? Are you less productive? Do you make poor choices with health and wellbeing? Now multiply that pain and really appreciate what that person’s views in your head are doing to you.

Feel the pain so excruciatingly that you feel like my unwilling volunteer on stage. When you do this, you will never let another person stay in your head. Your reasons for change will be so powerful and life changing!

Make your commitment to yourself so powerful that nothing can damage it.

Then learn how to communicate powerfully. Not before you alter your confidence levels and mindset to you though. You don’t need to be rude to people to get them out of your head (But there’s nothing wrong with some swearing in your head if it makes your energy levels rise and you laugh on the inside!) 

Practice phrases that help you be prepared.

For the passive-aggressive people in your life – bat their comments with love – they hate that!

For those that drag up past failings like it’s a game, prepare something like – "it’s amazing how much some of us can learn from our mistakes in life isn’t it?" Staying calm and emotionless is an amazing power tool that keeps them out!

For those that have zero respect for you, but you can’t remove them from your life. Say a mantra in your head – take information from the strategy above that gives you proof that you are amazing. Or just read out your shopping or to do list in your head, so you are not allowing their words to even be heard properly.

Ultimately, only one person should live in your head and that’s you. And this version of you must be prepared to challenge the quality of your thoughts, monitor your emotions and strategise the fastest way back to positivity.

Your happiness, health and even earning potential will thank you!