A'udhu billahi mina sh-shaytaanir-rajeem! Bismillah...

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

The power of words!

Below article is something that I came across in FB today. I post it here because I found there is a great practical message for every parent. I strongly recommend you to take a few minutes and read till end. It's worth it. Hats off to the writer. A brilliant job indeed!
This article got me thinking a lot! I know, as a parent I need to develop the skill of avoiding NOs and Don'ts in my conversations. I strongly have to work towards presenting don'ts, shouldn'ts and Nos through positive sentences. What's your take?

I remember my dad teaching me the power of language at a very young age. Not only did my dad understand that specific words affect our mental pictures, but he understood words are a powerful programming factor in lifelong success.

One particularly interesting event occurred when I was eight. As a kid, I was always climbing trees, poles, and literally hanging around upside down from the rafters of our lake house. So, it came to no surprise for my dad to find me at the top of a 30-foot tree swinging back and forth. My little eight-year-old brain didn't realize the tree could break or I could get hurt. I just thought it was fun to be up so high.

My older cousin, Tammy, was also in the same tree. She was hanging on the first big limb, about ten feet below me. Tammy's mother also noticed us at the exact time my dad did. About that time a huge gust of wind came over the tree. I could hear the leaves start to rattle and the tree begin to sway. I remember my dad's voice over the wind yell, "Bart, Hold on tightly." So I did.

The next thing I know, I heard Tammy screaming at the top of her lungs, laying flat on the ground. She had fallen out of the tree.

I scampered down the tree to safety. My dad later told me why she fell and I did not. Apparently, when Tammy's mother felt the gust of wind, she yelled out, "Tammy, don't fall!" And Tammy did fall.

My dad then explained to me that the mind has a very difficult time processing a negative image. In fact, people who rely on internal pictures cannot see a negative at all. In order for Tammy to process the command of not falling, her nine-year-old brain had to first imagine falling, then try to tell the brain not to do what it just imagined. Whereas, my eight-year-old brain instantly had an internal image of me hanging on tightly.

This concept is especially useful when you are attempting to break a habit or set a goal. You can't visualize not doing something. The only way to properly visualize not doing something is to actually find a word for what you want to do and visualize that. For example, when I was thirteen years old, I played for my junior high school football team. I tried so hard to be good, but I just couldn't get it together at that age. I remember hearing the words run through my head as I was running out for a pass, "Don't drop it!" Naturally, I dropped the ball.

My coaches were not skilled enough to teach us proper "Self-Talk." They just thought some kids could catch and others couldn't. I'll never make it pro, but I'm now a pretty good Sunday afternoon football player, because all my internal dialogue is positive and encourages me to win. I wish my dad had coached me playing football instead of just climbing trees. I might have had a longer football career.

Here is a very easy demonstration to teach your kids and your friends the power of a toxic vocabulary. Ask them to hold a pen or pencil. Hand it to them. Now, follow my instructions carefully. Say to them, "Okay, try to drop the pencil." Observe what they do.

Most people release their hands and watch the pencil hit the floor. You respond, "You weren't paying attention. I said TRY to drop the pencil. Now please do it again." Most people then pick up the pencil and pretend to be in excruciating pain while their hand tries but fails to drop the pencil.

The point is made. If you tell your brain you will "give it a try," you are actually telling your brain to fail. I have a "no try" rule in my house and with everyone I interact with. Either people will do it or they won't. Either they will be at the party or they won't. I'm brutal when people attempt to lie to me by using the word try. Do they think I don't know they are really telegraphing to the world they have no intention of doing it but they want me to give them brownie points for pretended effort? You will never hear the words "I'll try" come out of my mouth unless I'm teaching this concept in a seminar.

If you "try" and do something, your unconscious mind has permission not to succeed. If I truly can't make a decision I will tell the truth. "Sorry John. I'm not sure if I will be at your party or not. I've got an outstanding commitment. If that falls through, I will be here, Insha Allah. Otherwise, I will not. Thanks for the invite." People respect honesty. So remove the word "try" from your vocabulary.

My dad also told me that psychologists claim it takes seventeen positive statements to offset one negative statement. I have no idea if it is true, but the logic holds true. It might take up to seventeen compliments to offset the emotional damage of one harsh criticism.

These are concepts that are especially useful when raising children. Ask yourself how many compliments you give yourself daily versus how many criticisms. Heck, I know you are talking to yourself all day long. We all have internal voices that give us direction.

Allah (SWT) the Exalted says in Noble Qur'an: "O you who believe! Be careful of (your duty to) Allah and speak the right word." (33:70)

So, are you giving yourself the 17:1 ratio or are you short changing yourself with toxic self-talk like, "I'm fat. Nobody will like me. I'll try this diet. I'm not good enough. I'm so stupid. I'm broke, etc. etc."

If our parents can set a lifetime of programming with one wrong statement, imagine the kind of programming you are doing on a daily basis with your own internal dialogue. Here is a list of Toxic Vocabulary words. Notice when you or other people use them.

BUT: Negates any words that are stated before it.
TRY: Presupposes failure.
IF: Presupposes that you may not.
MIGHT: It does nothing definite. It leaves options for your listener.
WOULD HAVE: Past tense that draws attention to things that didn't actually happen.
SHOULD HAVE: Past tense that draws attention to things that didn't actually happen (and implies guilt.)
COULD HAVE: Past tense that draws attention to things that didn't actually happen but the person tries to take credit as if it did happen.
CAN'T/DON'T: These words force the listener to focus on exactly the opposite of what you want. This is a classic mistake that parents and coaches make without knowing the damage of this linguistic error.

Toxic phrase: "Don't drop the ball!"
Likely result: Drops the ball
Better language: "Catch the ball!"
Toxic phrase: "You shouldn't watch so much television."
Likely result: Watches more television.
Better language: "I read too much television makes people stupid. You might find yourself turning that TV off and picking up one of those books more often!"

Take a moment to write down all the phrases you use on a daily basis or any Toxic Self-Talk that you have noticed yourself using. Write these phrases down so you will begin to catch yourself as they occur and change them.
Forge a positive relationship with the world around you and the world will become a better place for you to live. And remember: Make positive Self-Talk a daily practice.

By: Ralph Marston

Disclaimer:  This is not written by me, the whole credit goes to the original writer.


  1. Very good. Thanks for sharing

  2. Nishana... this was a very powerful message! I could not agree more. Having grown up with a lot of negative language, the after affects have been painful at times. I have always taught my children that words are very powerful and to used them wisely; words once said can not be taken back; words may be forgiven but not forgotten.

  3. Oh my goodness!!! This post is amazing! When my kids were little, I didn't use the word "NO." As you explain, the mental process of understanding no was too difficult. "No" stop standing on tiptoe or "No" don't touch the hot stove. Instead I'd yell "STOP" or "FREEZE" (changed words by kid three). They knew that stop meant freeze in place. Then I could assist as needed by removing the table lamp cord from tight little fists, turning them around before they got into the street, or maneuvering away from the stove. Why stop works better than no, I'm not sure, but I DO KNOW it works!!!

    From here on out, I am removing try from our family's vocabulary. :D

  4. Our words as parents have so much impact. This article is a good reminder of that!

  5. This was a very interesting read that applies to children but to us as well. We have to learn to master our thoughts and send the good signals out.
    Thank you so much for sharing, these advices are precious. I hope you are all well dear, take care.

  6. Thank you for posting this today. I used to be pretty good at replacing negative statements with positive ones, but I certainly have fallen off the wagon and gotten back in to old and bad habits. I really appreciate the reminder!

    Gina (visiting from vB)

  7. Great article to share! Thanks. I absolutely believe this.

  8. Very interesting! Food for thought for sure. Thank you for sharing!

  9. Yes - i loved reading this - very interesting points! I will try not to say 'don't' from now on!

  10. Hi,

    This is my first time here. Thank you very much for posting this article. Really an eye-opener.


  11. it was sooooooo interesting article.... loved it. and thanks for sharing it.


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