| Family Reflections |

Uplifting Words

Words have a huge impact on our emotional state


What is a word? When spoken, it’s a sound shaped by our vocal cords, tongue, teeth, and lips. But most importantly, it’s a sound with meaning. Babies can make sounds without meaning; these babbles are just noise, sometimes pleasant and other times unpleasant.

When written, a word is a cluster of specially configured lines scratched on a page or screen. This, too, must be embedded with meaning in order to attain the status of a “word.”

Words — symbols laced with meaning — are instruments of human communication and prayer. Although the meaning itself can’t be seen, held, manipulated, or otherwise possessed, its power is strong enough to pierce the Heavens, build or destroy communities, create or dissolve partnerships, and hurt or heal.

But one of the most overlooked power of words lies in their impact on our own emotional state.

Words We Hear

Words we hear from others, whether directed personally to us or to humanity in general, can change our perspective and our mood. An uplifting speech is one that contains words of encouragement and positivity. Listening to such words makes us feel more hopeful, capable, and energized.

Hearing bad news and discouraging forecasts can cause us to feel downtrodden, hopeless, and depressed. Interestingly, words we hear from ourselves have the same potential to uplift or cast down, to strengthen or weaken, to energize or deplete. In fact, words we hear from ourselves have the same power as all words do: to heal or sicken, to create connection or disconnection, to build or destroy.

How do we hear words from ourselves? One part of us speaks (silently) while other parts hear. The “speaking” part creates words that are called “thoughts,” rather than their vocalized counterparts, which are called “speech.” I can think that the weather looks dreary or, if someone is in the house listening, I can say that it does. Either way, I depress myself as I hear my own description.

Mood Medicine

We’re used to saying it (or more accurately, thinking it) just like we see it. If the weather looks dreary, we think that without censorship or even concern. After all, it does look dreary! We say it silently and mindlessly, without awareness of the impact of our choice of words. We think we’re just making an observation, giving a weather report or otherwise engaged in a harmless activity, whereas in fact, we may be dousing ourselves with a set of downer chemicals.

Words, you see, function as both medicine and poison. Hashem, Maker of all words, has made it this way through designing the letters of each word as carriers of vast physical, emotional, and spiritual energy. Whether uttered in English or in Lashon Hakodesh, the sound of a letter is transformative. The field of psychology, too, acknowledges the significant impact of words on those (including us) who hear them.

Let’s explore that impact for ourselves by employing the intentional use of the word “love” within our daily mental chatter.

Here’s how:

  1. Notice when you spontaneously think an appreciative thought. For example, taking a sip of your favorite morning beverage, you may automatically think something like, “Mmm, delicious!”
  2. Now add an intentional love statement such as, “I LOVE this!” Here are more examples: You’re walking down the street, noticing the flowers are in bloom. You think to yourself, “Wow, how beautiful!” Now you add, “I LOVE them!” Or, you’re enjoying a quiet Friday night, sitting down with a favorite book. You think to yourself, “Ahh, I can finally relax.” Now you add, “I LOVE this!”

Of course, whenever feeling appreciation, thanking Hashem is in order, so direct acknowledgment to the Source of all pleasure can precede or follow the words of love, as in, “I LOVE this, thank you, Hashem!”

Blessings and gratitude to Hashem are built into our prayerful lives and are gifts to us even more than to Hashem. But by first raising our own awareness and energy by loving what we only previously liked, these prayers are intensified.

And while there is plenty to say about that from a spiritual point of view, my particular point here is a psychological one. Saying or thinking multiple times a day the phrase, “I love that!” is an anti-depressant, mood-elevating habit. Pepper your inner conversation with the intentional use of the word “love” and notice the shift in your daily mood.

I think you’ll really love what you discover.


(Originally featured in Family First, Issue 893)

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