Before we continue further and see the specifics, we must know what applies in general. The power of words is mainly to induce a certain behavior in an individual or a group. Scientists call it the Priming effect. [Priming effect can be of varied stimuli, here we are referring to the same effect but only of the words]. Ex: If the words – Towel, Shower, and Shampoo are given, and the fourth word is given as SO_P, we’re more likely to read it as Soap. Whereas, if the words, bread, juice, and milk are given together with the same last word given as SO_P, we are likely to read it as soup.
Basically, the power of words is to make you think of something you know. The effect of it on our behavior is not to be neglected. Modern marketers manipulate us through this same technique and make us behave to their profits. We’ve seen the usage of this wisdom in various cases – We’ve heard how empowered the Vaanaras/monkeys grew by sheer chanting “Jai Shree Ram”, or how the prince Uttara Kumara even though he couldn’t face his first battle well, he died a martyr, he believed himself to be a great warrior simply through affirmations, but of course, it also shows us that only is not enough. Before that, in Mahabharatha again, Kunti, without knowing what he had brought home, instructed to share it among all the 5 brothers. The Pandavas married Draupadi not just to honor their mother, but also because Pandavas knew the power of words. They knew the influence of words on our thoughts, and eventually our emotions and behaviors. Or at least, Yudhishtira knew. Of course, he could have chosen to discard the word, and rise above the power of words, [Planes of reality] but he didn’t, well, we all make mistakes. Pandavas too were mere humans. One of the finest, but still humans.
Anyway, I mentioned these scenarios because, yes even though not enough on its own, the influence is there, but also, we have the choice to rise above the power of words too.
Role of the power of words in the awareness timeline (Growth)
It can be a huge hindrance if we’re mindlessly spilling words out of latent tendencies or beliefs we smeared ourselves with the absence of awareness.
People say “Reading books is not my thing..” when they haven’t tried reading at least a dozen books on the topics they’re interested to know about. [Of course, most don’t know what they’re interested in either, so that’s a hard ask on them]. People say “Meditating does not work..” or “Meditation or any kriya practice is a waste of time, it’s a hokum..” when they haven’t attempted sitting for at least 15mins a day for a few months. Or they say “Hi” when greeted with a “Namasthe”. If that’s the culture you belong to, no problem, otherwise, it’s a tragedy. If you’re discarding your own culture and history for a mere sense of “fitting in” or “being modern”, isn’t it utter foolishness?
Assuming you’re smarter than every monk, king, knowledge worker, or any individual for that matter, in fact, the cumulative collective intelligence of the past 6000+ years, isn’t that foolishness? Sure, you may have access to the internet now, and you may have all the fancy technology now, but what you’re gathering from it is what our ancestors have already realized and have accumulated. Not just accumulated, they’ve lived practicing it. Planets and their orbitary motions were calculated way before the telescope was invented, and you think you’re smarter than all of those previous generations combined?
I’m saying all this because the power of words is a tool. Why use it to inhibit our experience, awareness, and growth when you can use it to gain the same? Your words can provide a pretty good image of who you are. But even more importantly or dangerously, what you become is influenced by what and how you use words. Our ancestors knew this all along. Everything from the significance of mantras to speaking less/only what mattered, they practiced this wisdom as a lifestyle.
5 Phases to Unleash The Power of Words:
- Become highly mindful of the words you say to yourselves and others. Just this step, unlocks tremendous potential in you. Understanding of life explodes, as a result, you become humble and as a result, you see more and so on continuing the virtuous cycle.
- Check whether your words match the awareness you have or it’s matching with the beliefs you’ve held unconsciously. Ex: if you think you are aware of being accountable is the right attitude for growth and are still complaining, then you are not aware of that wisdom. If you are aware, it must be practiced. By doing this, you understand yourself better. You’ll be able to see your tendencies and hence distinguish yourself from them and see yourself as is. Pretending/ using words to pretend does not help, in fact, it can backfire on your progress. Check out Chat GPT’s suggested questions to check your mindfulness with words here.
- Remove every word that does not mean anything to you. Remove every word that is not who you are. Ex: If you’re a person who does not want to stand for body-shaming, then there should be no space for “you’ll be blown away with the wind”, “you look fatter” or “the fat guy”, etc. By doing this, you are practicing the wisdom you’ve gained. If you’re not able to do this, that means, you’ve not realized that wisdom yet. By this phase, you’ll be uttering only truth, and nothing more.
- Look for words that are used merely out of trend and replace them with words of your origin. This step is again, acting on your gained wisdom, but also to be smart about how we proceed in life. Instead of being unaware of tendencies and mindlessly doing whatever, we choose to mindfully be the way we are designed to be. It’s like realizing to use Ferrari as a racecar instead of a farm tractor or vice-versa. In other words, we are using our past as a tool to grow. We are using our tendencies for growth. By this phase, your identity and your words match.
- Then there is Silence. Automatically after being through all the mentioned points, a sound of silence sets in, inside one’s heart. This is an indicator that whatever you’re doing is working. Enjoy that silence. Continue to practice it, along with the 4 points mentioned above.
The power of words is an incredibly powerful tool if one is able to culture it. All along these phases, you’ll have realizations. Write them down. Be it digitally or in a journal. Practice whatever you realize, soon there’ll be more realizations. It seems cyclic, but it is also spiral, which means it may seem repetitive, but there’s growth.
Sanath Kumar Naibhi