Abracadabra! As children, most of us would have been introduced to this word in association with magic.
We may have even pretended to be magicians ourselves to create joy and entertainment for friends and family. What many of us possibly do not know is that Abracadabra has its origins in the Aramaic language and is thought to mean “with my word I create’ or “with my word I influence”.
In a recent team discussion, one member objected to the use of “problem/s” in the context of creating a written document setting teaching and learning objectives for trainers and trainees. The preference was the use of “issue(s)” or “challenge(s)” because by their interpretation “problem/s” carried the weight of negativity — malignant and lingering, whereas “issue/s’ and “challenge/s” suggested the possibility of resolution. The rationale of the objector was that the mindset of the trainer and trainee should always be guided positively in the teaching/learning experience and that the team had the responsibility of harnessing the power of words for this purpose if we were to bring maximum advantage to those we wished to serve.
Talk about a WOW moment!!
This sparked a wonderful discussion about the level of awareness we have as individuals of what we say, how we say it and what we actually do because of it. Is it really possible that our reality — who and what we are, whatever we experience has its genesis in our thoughts and words? In that case, given the meanings of the words and likely interpretation by the reader, was our colleague correct in cautioning about the mindset we shaped through our written word?
Ludwig Wittgenstein, an Austrian philosopher who worked primarily in logic, mathematics, and the philosophy of language argued that “the world we see is defined and given meaning by the words we choose.”
Dr Habib Sadegh agrees, “Words have power. Their meaning crystallises perceptions that shape our beliefs, drive our behaviour, and ultimately, create our world.”
If our language then, reflects our imaginations, it stands to reason then, that becoming conscious of the power of your language will have a massive positive impact on the quality and depth of any relationship starting with your relationship with yourself which impacts your emotions and consequently your experiences. And what is your reality if not your experience?!
Scientific studies have confirmed that a single word has the power to influence the expression of genes that regulate physical and emotional stress. Positive words, such as “peace” and “love,” according to the authors, can alter the expression of genes, strengthening areas in our frontal lobes and promoting the brain’s cognitive functioning. They propel the motivational centres of the brain into action and build resiliency. Conversely, hostile language can disrupt specific genes that play a key part in the production of neurochemicals that protect us from stress. Humans are hardwired to worry — part of our primal brains protecting us from threats to our survival — so our thoughts naturally go here first. When you consider the positive or negative above, that is a lot of power.
We all have moments, sometimes days, weeks perhaps even months when we think that whatever we are dealing with is beyond our capacity. An experience or experiences we usually drop into the “problem/s” category.
The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines a problem as
1a: a question raised for inquiry, consideration, or solution.
b: a proposition in mathematics or physics stating something to be done.
2a: an intricate unsettled question.
b: a source of perplexity, distress, or vexation.
c: difficulty in understanding or accepting.
Who would agree that 2a, b and c of the above definition is the default position for most of us when a circumstance is framed as a problem? Interestingly, Merriam-Webster offers among others, these definitions:
1: to dispute especially as being unjust, invalid, or outmoded.
2a: to confront or defy boldly.
1a: a vital or unsettled matter.
b: a matter that is in dispute between 2 or more parties.
Words carry more than meaning. They carry energy and are extremely powerful tools that we can use to uplift ourselves and others, though we’re often not conscious of the words we speak, read, and expose ourselves to. Imagine yourself in the company of a chronic complainer for an extended period of time. Written words, in particular, make us think from both the reader’s and the writer’s perspective because they are speech given permanence which we are hard-wired to take seriously. After all, if it’s written, it must be credible whereas what is spoken may be dismissed or even forgotten.
Think about the last few words you’ve allowed to pass through your mind or mouth. Were they empowering or the opposite of that? What language and tone do you use while speaking to others? Is it harsh or generous? How often do you shout? How do you speak with yourself? How often do you complain and or criticise? What do you read or watch? What are you reinforcing? Consider how many times you’ve falsely called yourself or anyone else stupid, untalented, ugly etc., and you begin to understand how what you say shapes an image. We never think that these words bring negative energy into our vibration and affect us on a physical level, but they do.
We invite you to test the theory: Close your eyes and note how you feel when you think of the word inch. Now do this with a mile. Now try short, followed by tall; love then hate. Try problem, now challenge.
- Observe your words.
- Simply make a list of your favourite words – a hard copy is always a great reference point.
- Speak them and really pay attention to how they make you feel
- Actively select and seek to use words with positive intent, that will add value and create opportunity (don’t underestimate the power in creating a “feel-good moment” for yourself or someone else).
Another team engagement provided an experience where the leader insisted that any issues flagged should also be presented with at least one possible solution. It didn’t have to be the solution, but you were guaranteed an audience if what you were bringing to the table had potential added value.
Add value to your table, to any table at which you are privileged to sit … mind your words.
Disclaimer: The preceding is intended to offer practical approaches and assistance for daily living in an effort to help where possible, those of us who need and seek it. We speak to the individual, and hope the nuggets offered are found transferable to family, business, community and country. The information is not intended as a replacement for obtaining professional advice.
NOW Grenada is not responsible for the opinions, statements or media content presented by contributors. In case of abuse, click here to report.