Tuesday, October 30, 2007

the power of words

I only had 20 minutes for my lesson on Sunday - well, I TOOK 20, when I probably actually had 15 - and some of that limited time had to be spent on clarifying 'not repressing things' vs. 'changing your perspective,' so I wanted a re-do. I just wish that I had been able to drive home the main idea a little better - with a few more minutes it could have happened. So just for my own brain, here it is, informally outlined.

The lesson was based on the talk The Tongue of Angels by Elder Holland.

The power of words: 'It is by words . . . [that] every being works when he works by faith.'
God SAID, 'Let there be light: and there was light.'
There was a comment about how our words can actually be a reflection of the 'state' of our faith; i.e., positive words coming from us, positive direction of faith at the time.

Chance for perfection: 'For in many things we offend all. [But] if any man offend not in word, the same is a perfect man, and able also to bridle the whole body.' James 3:2.
It's interesting to me how the same words can have such a different effect on people. I read this and saw hope: here is one thing I actually could be perfected in. Someone else I know read this and thought: here is one more way for me to fail.

Elder Holland addresses four groups of interactions: husbands to wives, gals to everyone, the way we speak to children, and the way we speak to ourselves. I focused on the way we speak to ourselves.

Without thinking about it - just write the first things that pop into your head - complete the sentence: 'I am ___________________.'

Look around the room and take note of all the things that are brown. Now close your eyes. Tell me everything in this room that is yellow. We see what we are looking for - what our attention is primed for.

At different times for me I might complete the above sentence with any of the following:

  • I'm tired
  • I'm crabby
  • I'm doing great
  • I'm progressing
  • I'm fat
  • I'm happy
  • I'm sad

I've noticed that if I dwell on the 'I'm tired' - come on! Who isn't? - then I really am truly tired all day. But if I choose to focus my attention on something else, I don't tend to FEEL tired all day long. I have a friend who really doesn't enjoy being pregnant. Whenever we'd talk while I happened to be in that state, she'd say 'Don't you just hate being pregnant. I'm so glad it's you and not me!' I can think of worse states to be in - I am not necessarily at my best when I'm prego - Rog will be happy to concur - but I can think of plenty of worse states to be in. Focusing on the downsides just makes me FEEL worse than it actually is. (This is where we went off into the weeds - the comment was 'If I'm crabby, I think I should just say ''I'm crabby'' and be ok to go with it for a while.' So I tried to make the distinction between NOT ignoring/repressing how you feel but trying to change your perspective on it. What I SHOULD have said was that once you've identified something perhaps not so positive, what can you do to change it? With the tired example, do you perhaps need to practice saying NO so that you don't exhaust yourself? What can you do to rejuvenate yourself so that you actually aren't as tired? If this means cutting out a few hours of tv at night, or saying 'no' sometimes, or taking a walk, DO IT. I get a little tired of always identifying problems but not solutions.)

'In all of this, I suppose it goes without saying that negative speaking so often flows from negative thinking, including negative thinking about ourselves. We see our own faults, we speak - or at least think - critically of ourselves, and before long that is how we see everyone and everything.' (Elder Holland)

Elder Orson F. Whitney: 'The spirit of the gospel is optimistic.'

The challenge: look at your list of 'I am _________.' Identify if they are even true statements. You are surely NOT the biggest jerk in the world. Replace the negative ones with something that IS true. And if it is true and you don't like it, what are you going to do about it. Try starting off the day with 'I AM good enough, I AM progressing, I AM blessed,' and see if that makes a difference in how you see the world around you. Does this 'small' - not always so EASY to execute - action change your day?

1 comment:

T said...

I'm good enough. I'm smart enough. And, gosh darn it, people like me. Just a little Stuart Smalley with which to end my day...