The Psychological Impact of Words

How much power do encouraging & uplifting words really posses?

By Osmara Medrano

The complexity of the human mind has allowed us to influence and shape our environments based on words and language. We have the capacity for language development that no other species on earth has created. We utilize words to shape meaning, worth, and provide clarity when attempting to interpret our surroundings. Words create space for themselves in our reality.

Our choice of words have a direct and immediate effect on our cognitive, emotional, and behavioral responses. In other words, thoughts lead to feelings which then lead to behaviors. They are a vessel for connection and communication. Words have the power to structure and restructure our brain chemistry. We respond to words both on a conscious and subconscious level. Some can cause automatic responses, more visceral ones, while others we come to know and repeat so often that they are part of the way we view the world. Eackhart Tolle once wrote, “Do you believe some combination of such basic sounds could ever explain who you are, or the ultimate purpose of the universe, or even what a tree or stone is in its depth?”

Personally, I do not believe words can know or describe the depth of our being. However, I do believe that words can hold space and power in our lives. They are with us when we are born, and the sound they produce travels through us to begin to form our understanding: from coos with our mothers to marriage proposals. We listen and take in from our environment to help form the structures of how we input and output: conceive, interpret, and interact.

As we begin to grasp more and more insight into our environment, we learn that words carry different values and weight. In early childhood we learn that we can say and not say certain words. We learn that there are certain words we often hear spoken over us, whether good or bad. We store some of these words to form pillars for growth and identity. By adolescence, we have heard and picked up enough words along our life road to shape our narrative and compose our reality. They become the building blocks for navigating relationships. These relationships are crucial in nurturing our ability to speak truthfully and lovingly to ourselves and others.

Words hold the power to create connection and community. We learn to say certain words, which vary by culture, during rituals and ceremonies. We learn that some words hold the power to hurt and heal. We add descriptive words and labeling words as we try to attach meaning to our environments. Words are also lead players in mental health conditions like depression, anxiety, panic disorders, identity issues and stress related concerns.

Many negative words have roots that trace back to our childhood and adolescence that we held as truth to our being. Which leads me to our fight; how much power do encouraging and positive words have?
Encouraging words produce a sound for the spirit and reflect meaning of worth. They hold the capacity to promote goodness in the world. Words matter. Kind and gracious words towards yourself and others exist in us, with us, and through us. But they need to be fought for.

Encouragement is a highway heading towards true identity and lifelong health. Words that encourage form pathways in our brain and bridges towards others. They help engage, empower, and entertain fruitful optimism. They give life to both the receiver and encourager. These words are not singular and never run linear. Meaning, you can say them once and build on them at different times and seasons and a person will remember. That is their POWER.

The Challenge: To learn to create and hold space for yourself.

I want you to take a seat and plant your feet firmly on the ground. Feel the ground against your feet. Straighten out your back. I want you now to take a couple of deep belly breaths (those that
come from your center). Now I want you to scan your body. From head to toe.
Starting with your head, what are your thoughts?

  • If they are negative, cover them with positive (kind, loving, encouraging) ones.
  • Move down to your mouth and throat, what would you like to speak?
  • Find encouraging words to speak about yourself. Move down to your heart, how is your heart? Find peace and love in it and call it out. Move down to your belly, how is your gut?
  • Find things that bring you butterflies that you are excited for. Move down to your feet, what is the stance you want to take in this life?
  • Today, stand in all your worthiness and goodness and commit to yourself.

If you have time, I encourage you to write down the things that came up with this challenge. Revisit and do this exercise again. Share it, but most importantly remember: Words transcend and live in different dimensions. Words are a release. Words are healing. Words are the opportunity to shower yourself and another with goodness and love.

Words transcend and live in different dimensions. Words are a release. Words are healing. Words are the opportunity to shower yourself and another with goodness and love.

They are the ability to lift and remove wounds that have been there for years. Encouraging words should live in us and through us. They deserve to fill up the space between you and another person. Words of kindness, gentleness, fierce love, and truthful pursuit. Encouraging words are gracious to another person and will heal the soul. You can do anything. You can cause healing. You change brainwaves. That is powerful.

By Osmara Medrano