Wellness With Age: The power of our words

Have you ever considered just how powerful our spoken words truly are? Science is continually learning — and reaffirming — what the Bible said centuries ago: The tongue has the power over life and death. This truth has been a reality in my own life more than once, and it is something I feel strongly about.

One neuroscience experiment monitored subjects’ brain reactions to words. Negative and painful words released stress and anxiety-inducing hormones. Another related study showed how negative self-talk, especially in children, not only released stress hormones, but also contributed to long-term anxiety.

Other studies revealed how positive, affirming words and phrases released positive hormones in the body, and actually improved neurotransmitter activity. In addition, positive words stimulate the frontal lobe area of the brain. This area contains strong connections between language and motor activity centers.

In doing my research for this month’s article I read one research paper which said that our words can affect our DNA. While I did not find other resources to support this I personally find the concept intriguing.

Here is a piece of related trivia: the Greek word, LOGOS means both word and container.

Words contain our state of being, be it positive or negative. The good news is we have the power to pro-actively choose which we want.

As children we learned the basics of math and reading by repetition. As adults our brains still learn by repetition.

Too many times we, unfortunately, speak words and phrases out of habit, without stopping to analyze what we are really saying. As a result, we hinder ourselves, or those we love. Two examples are, “I am so stupid!” and “Stop being such a klutz!” As a result, we train our brains to make ourselves more like what we say, more stupid and more klutzy, or more whatever we are saying to ourselves.

What is most sad is when our self-talk repeats the lies we heard growing up. One example is, “You are too lazy.” One of my favorite primary care providers, when asked how he was would always answer with, “I am well,” or “I am blessed.” Even before COVID I started replying with, “I am well, thank you.”

There are thousands of examples available on the power of words to affect the lives of many. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s quote “I have a dream,” is one simple example. However, I wish to leave you with two, much stronger examples.

The second largest cause of suicide for youth between the ages of 10-24 is the result of cruel, harsh words. We call it bullying.

One of the most powerful, positive speeches in history is Churchill’s iconic speech which turned the tide of WWII and empowered the allies to defeat Hitler. “We shall fight on the beaches. We shall fight on the landing grounds. We shall fight in the fields, and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills. We shall never surrender!”

I invite you to do your own research on the power of words and to analyze the words you speak. Then re-phrase any words needed to improve your life and the lives of those you love.

Email us with your thoughts on the power of the spoken word. I personally reply to every email: info@wellnesswithage.com.

Crystal Linn is a multi-published author and an award-winning poet. When not writing, or teaching workshops, she enjoys reading a good mystery, hiking, and sailing with friends and family. See crystallinn.com.