The Power of a Word
You’ve heard the saying.
Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me.
Words hurt. Words have power. They have tremendous impact but here's the good news. They only have the power that we let them have and we get to decide that in our own brains.
Let’s talk more about that.
Back in 2015, the Dove company ran an advertising campaign they called #ChooseBeautiful. They went to 5 different cities and, in front of the doors of an office building, they had 2 doors. One door had a sign that said “BEAUTIFUL” over it. The other door had a sign that said “AVERAGE”. So they filmed women making the choice about which door to go through.
Now some of them just popped right on in, they weren’t even paying any attention to the doors. Other women, you could see them standing and studying, “Hmmm, beautiful. Average.” And you could watch the wheels turn and then the body language of head slumping forward and shoulders slumping and most of these women walked through the average door!
Now once they got inside, surveyors would ask them why they chose the door they chose. One of the few women who went through the Beautiful door said, “I felt empowered. It was my time to tell the world I think I’m beautiful!”
The other women who chose the average door, some of the comments were,
“Who am I to say I’m beautiful?”
“Yeah, I went through the average door- and it felt bad!”
So I was telling my husband and our three sons about this video. My oldest son, he’s this big burly construction worker who’s much more interested in big equipment and trucks than fashion and beauty, he’s like “Man, I would be strutting through that beautiful door like this and YOU should TOO!”
Well, five years ago, I wasn’t ready to walk through the beautiful door and it wasn’t because of what beautiful itself meant. It was everything I had attached to the word beautiful.
But here’s what happened in my brain over the years of thinking, “I’m not beautiful.”
It was kind of sneaky that “I’m not beautiful“ became
“I’m not valuable.”
“I’m not worthy.”
“I don’t measure up.”
That’s not what beautiful actually means but it’s how I began associating things with beautiful so when I think, alright, my thought “I’m not beautiful”, how does that make me FEEL?
I don’t feel very powerful.
I don’t feel valued.
I don’t feel strong.
I don’t feel worth it.
Then these thoughts, these feelings- what actions does this lead me to take? If I don’t feel beautiful, value, worth it? It certainly does not lead me to take confident steps.
Now we all have a word. Yours might not be beautiful.
Yours might be smart or money or masculine or confidence or power. We all got a word that trips us up a little bit, that whether we’ve realized it or not, we’ve attached a lot of thoughts and a lot of feelings to that word and we ACT from what we think and how we feel.
So, you know, my actions, coming from a place of “I don’t feel beautiful. I don’t feel valuable and I don’t feel powerful and I don’t feel worth it.” Well, do you think I was acting confidently? Heck, no!
What DO you do when you realize that the thoughts you have, the beliefs that you hold have such great impact on what you do and who you are? How you impact the world?
The first thing you do is just be aware. Pay attention to what you’re thinking and as you go through the day when you realize, “Oh, I caught myself thinking ‘I’m not beautiful’ or ‘I don’t feel valued’ or “I don’t feel good enough to step into this and to ask for attention” or whatever it is. Realize that’s what’s going on, it’s kind of the program if you think of it like a computer, it’s kind of like the underlying computer program that’s playing low-key in the back of your brain that influences how you’re interacting in the world.
Once you’re aware of the thoughts that you’re thinking, the next thing you do is understand that just because you’ve got a thought going through your head does not make it true.
It’ s just a thought, just a sentence rolling through.
We get to decide what to believe so let’s choose to believe things that help us, things that build us, things that strengthen us. Because when we’re strengthening and empowering ourselves, that makes us better able to strengthen and empower and help our family, our coworkers, our world. So it’s not just about us.
So we’re aware of our thoughts, let’s choose to think helpful, strengthening, empowering thoughts. So if I’m back to “Hmm, I’m catching myself thinking “I’m not beautiful, I’m not valuable”, what can I choose to think instead?
Well, just flipping it around to its opposite- that’s too big of a leap for me to make- to just say “Oh, I AM beautiful. I AM valuable.” So I’ve got to do some stairstep thoughts.
Thoughts that were helpful to me were to first of all say, “So what?”
I really do believe that the way I look is not the most interesting thing about me. There are many, many more things that are interesting and important. I have ways of offering value in the world far beyond the way I look. So, SO WHAT? That was a helpful thought for me.
Another helpful thought was “I’m a person- I DO have value.” And just to kind of soak that in. Yeah, I do have value.
So, you know, you just stair step it. You want to begin thinking believable thoughts that move you forward and, as you go through your day, you’ll catch yourself “Wait a minute, that’s not a thought that I want to be thinking.” Let’s substitute this next thought.
Now remember that you didn’t get this way overnight. These thoughts, the networks that you’ve built in your brain, the networks of associations, the patterns that you have in your head didn’t just happen overnight so it’s probably NOT going to immediately change overnight. It will take time but it’s very, very possible- it’s very doable to change how you think and what you believe.
Once I started doing my work on my own thoughts about beautiful, powerful, valuable, confident, empowered, once that work began in my own head, my world changed.
I began to be able to operate from a place of beauty and value and power and confidence and courage.
Shoot, I wouldn’t be doing these videos if I couldn’t come from that place of strength. Now, it didn’t happen instantaneously and it wasn’t a “one time I did it and then the effect lasted forever”.
Some days I have to work really hard at remembering I AM strong and courageous and valuable and beautiful.
My sister even made me this sign that hangs over my door so every time I walk through the door I can remember I choose to walk through the BEAUTIFUL door.
You can too.
Daily Motion: https://dai.ly/x7txyxm
Visit my website: https://www.tbrowning.com/the-power-of-a-word/