John Hopkins research has shown that there is “a strong link between positivity and health” and, whether we are conscious of it or not, our words have a profound impact on our thoughts, our feelings, and our overall state of well being.
In the celebrated book, Words Can Change Your Brain: The neuroscience of communication, authors Andrew Newberg and Mark Robert Waldman explain that “a single word has the power to influence the expression of genes that regulate physical and emotional stress.”
In our digital age, and particularly now amidst the global pandemic we find ourselves in, news and social media confront us 24/7. While it is harder than ever to escape negativity and still remain informed, studies show that our brain consumes the words we hear and tell it. Consequently, we can all benefit from being conscious of the media we consume, the conversations we have, and the dialogue we internalize.
The 3 steps outlined below can help to ensure that the words we allow into our mind promote calm, positive thinking, and a healthy, happy life. By introducing these practices into our day, we can contribute to a calmer present and a better future for our community, our nation, and our globe.
Limit your exposure to negativity
Whenever possible, limit your exposure to negative dialogue, media hype, and destructive self-talk.
Your subconscious is always listening and the words you consume can directly impact your life in ways you may not have even realized.
Neuroscientists have proven that negative words activate a fear-based response within the human brain, which increases cortisol levels and stress hormones. As Newberg and Waldman shared in Psychology Today, negative communications “stimulate the release of destructive neurochemicals” in our brain. The BRM Institute explains that negative words, “whether spoken, heard, or thought, not only cause situational stress, but also contribute to long-term anxiety.”
When we consider that negative words can actually alter the cells in our body and directly affect our wellbeing, we can start to truly understand the effect of words on our life, and be more conscious of what we watch, read, listen to, and talk about.
Filter your language
With practice, you can catch yourself before you express words of negativity and “flip the switch” to a more positive stance. The idea is to reframe negative thoughts and communications into positive language that serves you better.
For example, if you catch yourself saying to a friend, “I’m so depressed being stuck at home,” you might choose to reframe that to, “I’m grateful to be healthy and safe at home.”
Choose your words carefully—they impact your life and the lives of others.
Be a voice of optimism
By cultivating a positive attitude and high-vibe space where negativity isn’t fostered, you can actually support your family, friends, and community in staying positive and optimistic about their life as well.
In this time of uncertainty it is normal to feel unsure of oneself and the result is often to blame, judge, and complain. Such negativity actually makes things worse for both ourselves and others.
Together, let us try and shine a light on our situation and uplift the world—beginning with ourselves—by carefully considering what we listen to, what we say, and what we tell ourselves, one word at a time.
As aptly phrased in Psychology Today: “Words have power. Choose them wisely.”