What you think about, you bring about. –Lisa Nichols
I used to think that self-improvement books were hooey, which is my mom’s polite way of saying “bullshit.” Quotes like “Set your intention and it will manifest!” and “Shoot for the moon – even if you miss, you’ll land among the stars!”1 set me on edge.
Slowly and surely, though, I’ve been converted to Camp Positive Thinking.
Understanding the Power of Words
Until recently, I was a student. I studied rhetoric, which is just the study of persuasive speech. We spent a lot of time talking about how the words we use create and shape our reality, which can get pretty philosophical (but I loved it!). I spend most of my time talking and thinking about how the words we use matter and are powerful.
Not convinced? Think of how you feel when there’s something you’re really excited about. How would you describe it? Fun, exciting, joyful, thrilled, happy…you get the idea. Now, imagine how you’d feel if someone you care about came along and told you whatever you are excited about is stupid, lame, dumb, and a waste of time. Kind of crushing, right? The power of words, my friend.
Think of the last time you tried to convince someone to go to a movie you wanted to see…say, Batman v Superman. They think the plot is kind of lame and movie tickets are expensive. You are prepared for that – you show them the trailer, point out the exciting bits, offer to pay, and seal the deal by reminding them about the best part of this movie: Wonder Woman. They can’t think of any more reasons not to go, and you quickly pre-buy tickets for opening night. That’s rhetoric.
Look at all these words that don’t exist in English (but probably should!). When you have the words to describe the feeling you are experiencing, it validates what is happening! Being able to put your feelings into words names the feeling, and naming is powerful.2 Part of the reason that people like Brené Brown and Susan Cain are so wildly popular is because they put some scary, big feelings into words!
Learning all of this got me thinking. How were the words I was using persuading me to feel?