The Power of Words Series
Your words are important. What you say to yourself and to others can either be a blessing or a hindrance. Words are powerful and need to be handled carefully. In this post, we’re going to learn how to break the habit of negative words spoken to yourself about yourself or spoken to others.
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The Effects of Negative Words
Have you heard words like these in your life?
- you’re fat…you’re ugly…you smell…
- she won’t amount to anything
- he’s stupid
- you’re good for nothing
- can’t you do anything right?
- and the list goes on
These are negative, derogatory words of death, and yet, these are words that people speak every day. We throw these words out there without even realizing it. And when you hear these words over and over again, something happens inside of you. A part of you begins to die as you believe the lies that you took in.
Negative words like these can direct how you think about yourself. You end up believing them to be true of you even if others tell you that’s not true. It’s hard to break the power of negativity but it can be done. We’ll talk about that today.
About 15+ years ago, my first husband told me I was “handsome”. Now, to me, that word is generally used to describe a man and since I favoured my father in appearance, I began to see myself looking like a man because I was told I was “not pretty or beautiful but handsome.” I didn’t feel loved.
Honestly, those words crushed me and from then on, I never saw myself as beautiful. No matter what my friends said, I still saw myself looking like a man, handsome, and even then I questioned that. And from there, I began to think I was ugly because I was also overweight most of my life. These two things together had a negative impact on how I saw myself. Can you relate to this?
When destructive words are used repeatedly, even twice is sufficient, the hearer tends to believe them. It can take years before those false beliefs are erased and replaced with truth. It takes work to change these false beliefs. And it takes the power of God working in us to overcome the lies we fed into.
Your Words Matter
So, what can you do about negative words? First of all, it’s important to realize that your words matter. What you say, either to yourself or to someone else, has an effect on you and those around you. Not only the words that you speak out but also the words that you hear from others.
Some of the negative words you might speak over yourself might have to do with your physical appearance.
Maybe you don’t like the way your body looks and so you speak negative words conveying your dislike for yourself.
Maybe you are not happy with your intellectual knowledge which results in your speaking words like, “I’m so dumb” or “stupid me”. If this is an area that you can improve on, then can I suggest that you seek the Lord for His help in improving and increasing your knowledge?
Constant repetition of these negative words bury themselves deep within you as you respond to the negativity with more negativity. Sister, you need to stop doing that!
It’s important that you realize the power of words and how your body responds to them. Your body can result in physical illness or even emotional sickness.
If you were in the habit of speaking positive words such as “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Phil 4:13) or “I have the mind of Christ” (Phil 2:5), then your mindset will improve as well. Your thoughts will be healthy.
There is a secret to speaking positive words. Do you want to know what it is? It is very powerful so be careful with it.
It is simply this: speak the words of the Bible. Speak the Scriptures.
Yes, that’s right. Speak the Word of God over your life.
Speak the Word of God
The Bible is a powerful book. It is not just any book but is the very Word of God. God spoke the world into existence through His words. When you speak His Words, you are speaking life words. This is the kind of positive speaking that I am referring to when I say to speak positive words.
The world uses the phrase “speak positive” which usually involves words that suggest a person doing things in their own strength, or that they deserve to have better.
As believers, we know we cannot do things in our strength because sooner or later we’ll fall flat, but, with the help of Holy Spirit and through the power of God, we can do things with God’s strength. Do you follow what I’m saying here?
For example, if you have a God-given dream to be an author and you’ve never written a book before, you can declare that you can be a writer through the power of God who will strengthen you and enable you, Phil 4:13. God may lead you to take a course or find a mentor who will help you along the way of fulfilling your dream. He will direct your steps as you allow Him to lead you.
Or, maybe you have the heart to serve God through helping others but you don’t know where to start or how to do this ministry. You can declare the same verse as above or you can use another Scripture such as “Jehovah Jireh, You are my provider and will supply all that I need to know for this ministry,” Gen 22:14.
Or, even, “I am confident of this very thing that God, who has begun a good work in me will perform it until the I see Christ,” Phil 1:6. Incorporate as many verses as you need to declare this over your life.
Do you see how important it is to speak the Word of God? Search through the Scriptures to find a verse that you can stand on and declare over your life. Remember this though, it is important to keep the verses you use in context rather than pulling a single verse out of context. You want to have the Word in balance and not contradictory to itself.
Now, I’m not endorsing you to “name it and claim it”, I’m endorsing to have faith in God and in His Word. It is God who will move mountains for you, it is God who will bring into existence things that are not. It is God who will fulfill His promises.
Your words in themselves do not have power but yet at the same time, your words are powerful enough to lift up and encourage others or tear them down and wound them deeply.
So, remember that words matter and it is a good thing to develop the habit to speak the Word of God over your life and over others.
Timberley Gray of Living Our Priorities has an excellent post supporting and encouraging others to speak the Word of God over your situation. She gives a real-life example of how God moved in their situation when they realized the need to speak the Word of God into their situation.
The Power of Words
Not all words are spoken. Have you heard of the sayings “A picture is worth a thousand words” or “actions speak louder than words”?
There are some things that you can do that would supplement the power of words. For example, James, in his letter to the scattered tribes, taught them the importance of words and that words matter. James 3 is a great chapter to study on the power of words.
But let’s look at James 1:19 in particular. He wrote three things for the reader to take note of. Not just take note but also to practice in daily life. Let’s check it out.
- be quick to hear
- be slow to speak
- be slow to anger
Be quick to hear. This is self-explanatory. This means to be a good listener and I don’t mean to be soaking in negative words either but to focus on really hearing what someone else is saying to you.
If you are a good listener, you will naturally be slow to speak. You won’t be interrupting them or thinking of what you want to say. This makes for being a good listener, a person that others like to be around because you care for what they have to say and you give them space to talk.
And the last one, be slow to anger. If you have developed the habit of being a good listener and responding appropriately at the right time, it will naturally flow that you won’t be angered easily by what someone said to you.
How does this tie in with the power of words? Well, when you do speak, more than likely your words will be life-giving words rather than words of criticism or judgment. You know that your words matter and that they have an effect on those around you.
6 Steps for Positive Change through the Power of Words
Let’s talk about making a change for the better in your life. Here are some steps you can take to make a positive change so that the words you use are a blessing and not a curse.
James, on the topic of the power of words, says in James 3:10 that we shouldn’t be speaking both words that bless others and words that tear down people. Our mouths weren’t made for both types of words, blessing words or cursing words. We were made to be like Christ and encourage others.
So what can we do to be an encouragement to others?
~ 1. Be Aware of Your Words
You already know that your words matter and the first step is awareness of what you say no matter to whom you say it. Pay careful attention and when you say something hurtful, be quick to apologize and ask forgiveness.
~ 2. Remember the 3 C’s
Dale Carnegie, a well-known author, and speaker, taught the importance of remembering the 3 C’s. He said, “do not
- or Complain.”
This is a good place to begin changing your vocabulary. You may need to leave yourself some reminders on your mirrors, fridge, or anywhere else that will be helpful so that you are aware of words of criticism, condemnation, or complaints.
Oh, and this applies to words you speak to yourself or about yourself. Any and all words that come out of your mouth.
Would you like some daily Scripture Vitamins to help you get started? Grab this FREE printable, 28 Days of Scripture Vitamins, that will help you be aware of the power of your spoken words. Use these Bible verses to meditate on and even memorize!
~ 3. Resist Temptation
Ah! Temptation…whether it is yummy calorie-laden food or the fulfillment of something we shouldn’t be doing, like gossiping.
Everyone loves a good tale, whether it’s a true story or not, we all seem to have times when we pass on someone else’s story told in confidence or our ears itch to hear what someone else has to say.
“Did you hear about…?”
“Did you know that…?”
These are words that should raise the caution flags in us as generally what follows is some chatter that we shouldn’t be listening to.
They are also words that we shouldn’t be speaking either as it means we may be on the path to spreading gossip. God is clear that He does not like gossip. Here’s what Solomon said about it, Prov 18:8, the words of a gossiper are like wounds and go down deep. Ouch!
Prov 11:13 says that the gossiper tells secrets told in confidence and in Prov 16:28, a whisperer breaks up friendships.
Wow! I do not want to be that person and so I try very hard to resist the temptation to be a gossip, minding everyone else’s business but my own.
So, by not being a gossip, you can use the power of words to bless others rather than tear them down.
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~ 4. Replacement Practice
Search the Scriptures for positive declarations to replace your negative statements. Or sometimes, it is simply speaking kindly to someone rather than being hurtful.
|Instead of saying||Do or say this instead|
|I can’t do that.||I will learn how to do that because I can do (name the thing) through Christ who will help me.|
|Don’t be such a drama queen.||This person is seeking attention. Respond in a way that addresses their needs, such as, “How can I help you with that? Let’s do this together.”|
|I don’t care about that.||“This doesn’t interest me right now, maybe later when I can concentrate on it” or something to that effect.|
Lots of times we may brush off someone’s comments with a rude remark and then when we see an expression of surprise or dismay, we may tack on “I’m just kidding” or “I’m joking.” It’s better to remember the 3 C’s allowing for kindness instead.
Say what you mean and mean what you say. Be kind.
~ 5. Spend Time in Prayer
Seek God’s help as you break the habit of negative speaking. As you spend time in prayer, your vocabulary will change when you speak to others. And when you speak the Word of God over your life and over your family and friends, you will definitely find yourself being a blessing to others.
Jenn Soehnlin, who blogs at Embracing Life, has written a fabulous post called 15 Scriptures to Pray to Help You Speak the Truth with Love that you may find very helpful.
Have you ever thought that you could pray the Scripture? It’s the same as when you speak the Word of God. For example, you could use Psalm 39:1 as a prayer and word it as “I will pay attention to my ways, what I say and what I do and I choose not to sin with my words.” Or, you can say it exactly as it’s worded in your Bible. Either way, you are declaring the Word of God which will not return void, Isaiah 55:11.
~ 6. Revisit Your Friend List
This step may not be so easy as it may be that you need to take a good look at your friends. If you are surrounded by friends who are a negative influence on you, you may want to either break ties with them or not see them as often. Sometimes we can influence our friends to be more Christ-like but then there are friends who don’t see themselves as hurting you with their words. You may have to pray about this to see what God would have you do.
Since you are striving to be more Christ-like in your speech, knowing that words matter, it is important to surround yourself with those who will be a blessing to you, and of course, you should be a blessing to them as well. So, pray about this and be obedient to how God is leading you with your friends.
That’s a Wrap
So, we looked at negative words and their effect on us. We also examined 6 steps to change our bad habits to good habits. We’ll talk some more about the power of words in future posts in this series, so stay tuned for them!
Oh, and if you forgot, why not grab your free printable of the 28 Scripture Vitamins?
If you have some changes to make, which 2 steps will be the most important ones to you? Which will be the hardest to do? Leave me a comment, I’d love to hear from you!
Cindy Barnes has been called by God in the early 80s to be a teacher of His Word. She is a serious student of the Word, focusing on the Inductive Bible Study Method since 2007. Her passion is to teach women how to study the Bible using this method. In addition, she desires for women to develop an intense yearning to draw closer to God through reading and writing out the Bible.
Cindy teaches hundreds of women in her private online Bible Study Group who express their joy of growing deeper in their spiritual walk.
You can stay in touch with Cindy on Facebook through 215 Ministry.