The Power of Your Words

The most important things ever said to us are said by our inner selves.  Adelaide Bry Young Woman Biting Her Finger Nail Words are important. They reflect our thinking, but more importantly, they define our thinking. Our choice of words can improve or destroy a relationship; build up or tear down a self-esteem and contribute to our success or failure. Some words, such as “safe” “hope” and “bigot” automatically convey a feeling or an emotion, good or bad. The most important words you choose are the ones you say to yourself in your thoughts. The self-talk of a person with a negative self-esteem is usually filled with harsh, emotion-laden words.  Such words deepen the self-esteem wound. They often carry forth an abuse that began in  childhood. There is a vast difference between the thought, “I want to lose weight.” and “I’m a fat pig.” The difference is equally vast between the thought, “I failed the test.” and “I’m stupid.” Finally, consider the difference between the thoughts, “I made a mistake.” and “I can’t do anything right.” In each case, the later phrase is harsh, all-encompassing, and self-destructive. Watch the words you think to yourself. Ask yourself if you would say the same words or phrases to another person. Never say anything to yourself that you wouldn’t say to a friend or loved one. Consider the words you say in your thoughts. The things said by your inner self are truly the most important things you will say. Choose them wisely.

The Power Of A Smile

MP900262698We often underestimate the power of a smile. It’s so simple and common that we tend to ignore its power, but research evidence suggests that a smile can boost mental and physical health and increase success in relationships and work.

Researchers distinguish between the Duchenne and the non-Duchenne smile, named after the French neurologist, Duchenne de Boulogne who first identified them. The Duchenne smile is genuine, sincere and wholehearted. This smile involves the whole face, particularly the eye muscles. The non-Duchenne smile is more fake, perhaps given as a polite gesture, and just involves the mouth. The Duchenne smile is the one that provides the most benefit.

Some studies suggest that frequent Duchenne smiles are associated with longer life-span. We know that when we smile, our bodies release endorphins, the comfort or feel-good hormones. We also know that frequent smiles tend to lower blood pressure and boost our immune system, making us more resistant to illness.

The physical benefits of a smile are significant, but are far outweighed by the social/ relationship effects. One study suggested that people who smile frequently tend to have lower divorce rates in later life. We communicate and connect through smiles. We encourage others and bond with them.

Many years ago, a retired college professor shared this story. She said that she was in her office the day before that year’s graduation. A young black woman entered her office and said she was graduating the next day and wanted to thank her. The professor didn’t recognize the woman and asked if she had taken her classes, to which the woman replied that she had not. The woman explained that, four years earlier, she had been one of the first black students at the college. She said that, during her freshman year, many there had made her feel unwelcome, and that she was considering dropping out. She said that she passed this professor in the hall on a regular basis, and that the professor often smiled as they passed. The student noted that the professor’s smile made her feel she wanted her to be there. The student reasoned that if one person wanted her there, perhaps there were others. She began to look for, and find, others who welcomed her as a student. She stayed at the college and was graduating the next day, so she wanted to thank the professor for helping her finish.

We never know the power of a small gesture, a smile. You will feel better, and you never know who else you might touch.


Question: Do you have an experience where a smile made a difference? Please share it.

Altering Your Perspective on You

j0444315It’s not what you look at that matters. It’s what you see. Henry David Thoreau

Ever notice how you can look in the mirror one day and think that you don’t look that bad, and the next day look in the same mirror and think you look awful? It’s the same mirror. It’s essentially the same you. The difference between day one and day two isn’t your appearance. It’s your attitude toward yourself.

Your core beliefs, mood and mindset determine your perspective, and that perspective influences your perception. This is true whether you are looking at yourself or your world. Perspective determines what you notice and how you interpret what you see.

Think about those times when you have heard someone, you considered to be very attractive, criticize her appearance. You probably dismissed the self-critical comment as an effort to solicit a compliment or a statement the person actually didn’t believe. You probably argued with the comment, but thought little about it. Consider the possibility that the person really did believe the criticism, and that the statement actually reflected how the person saw herself. Her vision in the mirror was distorted by her negative self-beliefs.

Now, think about the times when you have made a self-critical comment about your own appearance, and a friend argued with your statement. You assumed that their argument was an effort to be kind, and the they actually saw the same defect that you saw. You immediately dismissed the friend’s argument as untruthful or inaccurate. What if the friend was right? What if your perception was the one that was distorted? What if your negative self-beliefs, or your perspective, altered your perception or yourself.

The same process occurs in other areas. Talk to the audience after a debate and you’ll hear proponents of both sides applaud their candidates performance, asserting their side’s victory in the debate. They heard what they wanted to hear, and they heard what they were prepared to hear.

Try to become more aware of your perspective of yourself. In particular, notice the thoughts, interpretations and perceptions that cause you pain or make your life more difficult. Allow yourself to question the validity of those negative perceptions. Was your perspective distorted by earlier negative events? Could you be seeing yourself, your life events, your relationships and your future inaccurately? Could your perspective be wrong? The first step toward changing a negative perspective is awareness. Once you identify a negative, self-destructive perspective, you can begin the day-to-day process of monitoring your thinking and reminding yourself of the truth.


Question: What prior beliefs about yourself have you been able to identify and change for the better? What perceptions would you like to change about yourself?