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I decided to start a blog...

This is my first post on this blog, although I have written on others.

I have been advised, by people who profess to know, that my first blog should be a bit of a biography; but I already have bits of biography elsewhere on the site. (If you’re interested you can find them here and here). I can write little of relevance which would add to that. What I would say is, that I have always liked to write, it has always been a part of my life, and so I am not deterred.

I like to write, and I like words, and I have always had a deep instinctive understanding of the power of words. Words move people in mysterious ways. They effect the way people think, and thereby effect the way people behave, and thereby create the society and environment in which we all live. Equally, the selective use of the appropriate words can change all of those things, and can literally (no pun intended) change the world. This process is known by different names, including arm-twisting, cajoling, advertising, brain-washing, and propaganda.

Oh! And of course, Hypnosis.

I feel like I have done myself a disservice there, lumping Hypnosis in with those other things. One would hope that a hypnotist/hypnotherapist would only use words to change your world, in ways that you would like, whereas, some of the other examples are more dubious. But the fact is, it works in much the same way.

We are all brain-washed.

And why would we not be? We have all been born with a brain that is keen to learn and needs very little persuading in what to believe. It began soaking up ‘facts’ from day one. As we grew, we formed opinions and contrasts of ‘good and bad’, ‘attractive and ugly’, ‘valuable and worthless’, ‘true and false’ and thousands of similar dichotomies. Once these opinions were formed we actively sought out new information to prove those facts that we had adopted. We have a natural bias towards the information that shows we are correct, and we filter out the information that suggests otherwise. And those beliefs become ever more entrenched. In this way, we become a product of our exposure. Our Exposure to information, some of it in the form of images, but mostly in words.

I could go into some lengthy examples to demonstrate how this is true, but that is not my intention here. Instead I will assume that, as an intelligent reader, who has been born and educated as you grew, you will recognise this process to be true. That of course, is part of my brain-washing. (If you’re reading this insisting that you are the exception, that you are not brain-washed; that’s your brain-washing right there).

Instead, I want to turn your attention away from the concept that you have been moulded by the bombardment of words heaped upon you… and towards the question of the words you drop on others, and yourself.

The reason I want you to understand how powerful words are, is because you are a producer of words. If you were carrying a gun, I would want you to know how to use it safely and correctly. If you were driving a car down a busy street, I want you to be able to do so safely, and for the correct reasons. Similarly, if you are going out with a loaded vocabulary, you should know what damage you can do with it, to yourself and your loved ones. And yet how many of us stop on a regular basis, to examine the words we use, and the words we think. The words you use to others, reflect the words you think to yourself, so let’s talk Self-Talk.

Mastery of Self Talk is the most under-rated skill.

Your self-talk will make your life easy, or difficult. It will recognise your success, or your failure. It will make you feel glorious, or make you feel helpless. It will give your life meaning, or make it meaningless. Given any particular situation in your life, the words you use in your head will change the feeling of it, the outcome of it, and the level of satisfaction you get from it.

Same external situation, but with different words, leads to a different internal experience.

That is the power of the words in your head.

Who is doing the talking? You are!

Who has the power to change it? You do!

How to change things?

Of course changing a serious psychological issue may require a good deal more than looking at your self-talk, but actually it’s a pretty good place to start, and relatively easy to do yourself.

It requires that you pay attention to the voice in your head. Sometimes you will not even notice that it is there, but it is always there. Even as you pay attention to the voice now, there is another voice commentating on the first voice! It can become like a party in there sometimes.

But don’t worry about that, just try to notice more often. And when you catch yourself saying ‘bad’ things, change it!

So what are ‘bad’ things? Well these words aren’t intrinsically bad, (that’s just my brainwashing again) but let’s say they are unhelpful in the message that they give to your unconscious mind.

The obvious ones are, “shouldn’t” and “couldn’t”. Labels like its “hard”, “bad” and “disgusting” can also be a problem. Profanities are not often useful as they tend to have negative connotations.

Pay particular attention to anything that follows the words “I am”, and ask yourself is that true? For example, the thought “I am stupid” flows into your mind. You could just accept that, or you could question it. Notice the difference between saying “I am stupid” and saying “I have acted stupidly on this occasion”. Notice the difference in the way you feel when you vocalise each one.

Remember that words do not simply have one straightforward meaning, they have psychological meaning. They are metaphors for a thing or a concept in the world, and connotations cluster around each word like the rings around Saturn.

Consider the word “SAVAGE” for a moment.

What are the meanings for you? What images come to mind? Does it feel like a compliment or an insult? Is it an aspiration? Was your initial response to treat is as a noun, or an adjective? Would it necessarily have the same meaning for someone else?

Try this test.

Take one minute and come up with as many words as you can which describe a bad situation. I’ll start you off with “Disaster, Fuck-up” …. Over to you.

Now take a minute to come up with as many words as you can to describe a good situation. I’ll start you off with “Brilliant, Fun” … Over to you.

Interestingly, when you ask someone to do this, most people generate far more words for the bad list, than the good list, and they do it quicker. This is because those words are more familiar, more often used, and I believe that is because of our psychological addiction for drama- but that’s another post for another day.

Start to change

Once you start noticing your self-talk you can set about changing it. Simply replace the negative with the positive.

The key here is repetition. Religious teachers have always known that to get a lesson to become a belief, it requires repetition. Mantra, Prayer, and religious song are all examples of this. In politics we find slogans and national anthems, and the occasion hashtag (# me-too). In self talk, we are more likely to use affirmations.

Affirmations have had a bad press in recent years because they have been degraded as too simple by some, but they work. Repetition gets the words ingrained in your brain. You do not have to ‘believe’ it on a deep level, but as you affirm “I am beautiful and smart”, watch out for the self-talk that creeps in, whispering “who you kidding?”

Of course all of this is made way more effective by the use of trance. You can induce trance yourself, or be hypnotised by someone else. The trance state takes away the inner critic that says “who are you kidding?”

I could suggest some affirmations for you to use, but we are all different and we will all have different needs. By examining your negative self-talk, you will know what opposite affirmation to use. You don’t need me to tell you.

Now you see the power of the word, your world view may begin to change. You begin to take some mastery of your own mind by:

· Looking out for the repetitive messages that are sent your way; the obvious ones - telling you what to buy, how to look, what size you should be; and perhaps less obvious ones – who you can trust, what is acceptable to say in public, who our heroes are, what you should like on Facebook, What you should be offended by.

· Noticing the voices in your self-talk, and how they may sound reminiscent of our parents or other influential adult in our lives. Do you find yourself saying the same thing you Mum or Dad used to say?

· Taking time out to give your mind the messages you want it to have. You are brainwashed and always will be, so it may as well be you doing the brainwashing.

Photo by Unsplash

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