Growing up, I was friends with two brothers. Both of them lived in the same place, went to the same schools and had identical life opportunities. I can’t say I knew what was going on in their minds, but both appeared to have their wits about them. From what I could see, as they grew up, both brothers were equally supported by their parents. One went on to be a successful businessman in real estate and was considered a model citizen in the community. The other brother, however, was constantly getting in and out of trouble and led a life of self-destruction.
So what was the difference?
One apparent difference was the words they used to describe themselves. The one brother was constantly affirming and speaking positive words about himself. The other brother constantly spoke words that put himself down and focused on what he considered to be his shortcomings.
The words we use to describe ourselves are a key factor in determining how life unfolds for us. When we change how we see ourselves, life changes.
As noted in Matthew 12:36, “Every idle word that we speak will be accounted in the day of judgment.” The judgment referred to is not in the distant future or some far off place. It is referring to the fact that judgment—or the consequences for our life—are set in motion by the words we use here and now. Our words have power. They matter.
When we change the words we use to describe ourselves, we can reset the direction of our lives. Words influence our actions and, over time, our actions create our life experiences. This is true on an individual level as well as on a societal level.
We can never go beyond how we see and describe ourselves. No matter what you have going for yourself, if you do not see yourself as deserving, you either will not be successful or, if you reach a level of success, you will not be able to sustain it. Over time, the way we habitually see ourselves creates a groove in our minds that serves as a default way of being and acting. However, there are practices we can put into action that can set a new groove and lead to different life experiences.
One practice is to speak words that affirm us and then act in ways compatible with how we speak. To change the trajectory of your life, begin by speaking and acting in a way that is consistent with your highest and best self and how you really want your life to be. Start with something small. Because how you do anything affects how you do everything.
You might start by graciously accepting compliments if you don't normally do so. When someone says how good that jacket looks on you, instead of saying, "Oh, this ol’ thing …” say, "It's true. Thank you."
You may feel uncomfortable at first. Eventually your new way of speaking and acting, even if you’re not fully comfortable with it at first, will generate a completely different emotional state. And the new emotional state will correspond with a new self-concept. That new self-concept will transform your life.
As it says in one Bible verse, although a ship may be large and driven by strong winds, it is steered by a very small rudder. Similarly, the tongue is a small part of the body but it does great things.
Our words matter. Use them wisely.
Peace and Blessings,