- 3 Posts
- Age 17
We have all experienced the power of language. We have all read something that stuck to us. Been told something that made us think. Been convinced of a false truth. Language can change a moment, change a life and change a world.
Napoleon Bonaparte used to ask all of his men if they thought they could win the war. If they answered ‘yes’ they would be accepted into his army. If they answered ‘no’, they would be declined. This is because Napoleon believed in the power of language in conveying an emotion, in conveying positive energy. He believed that to believe in winning was the only way one could win. This strategy was clearly a success, as Napoleon Bonaparte and his men nearly “conquered the world.”
The fact of the matter, is that language and emotion are deeply linked. This was proven in a human experiment in Iowa in 1939. Wendell Johnson and Mary Tudor, two phycologists, collected a group of twenty-two orphans. These orphans were separated into two even different groups and were asked to read and speak. The first group was encouraged every time they made a grammatical error and told that they were articulate speakers. The second group was criticized every time they made a grammatical error and told they weren’t good enough. The eleven orphans that were encouraged and complimented for their speaking skills became very articulate adults, while the eleven that were criticized developed speech deficiency disorders, such as stuttering. This shows the power of language in convincing someone to believe an idea about themselves that wasn’t even true. It’s not that those kids weren’t or couldn’t be articulate speakers, it’s that they were told they weren’t good enough and they believed it. Their view of themselves and the world was tainted by a false truth.
The way we see ourselves is impacted by what others say, even though that’s really not how it should be. One may argue that the orphans were children, and they believe what elders tell them because they have no alternative, they need to trust elders in order to survive. Teenagers may follow under a similar light, with a tinge of a rebellious mind. Though, it would be a false statement, to state adults aren’t influenced by language, because they are. Everyone is influenced by what they were taught as a child, even if they expand their horizons a bit.
This concept can be seen in one’s daily life. When you wake up in the morning, do you cloud yourself, with negative thoughts? Do you tell yourself “I’m not good enough”, “I’ll never succeed” or “the world doesn’t need me.”? Or do you puff your day with positive energy and tell yourself “I am unique and important”, “I will succeed” or “the world needs me.”? When you fall down, do you get back up? Or do you stay down and dig a deeper pit for yourself for fear of losing, failing, rejection and pain. It may be easier to stay down in a puddle of our insecurities, to believe what others say about us, because we’re afraid of what will happen if we do believe in ourselves or because it’s easier to believe what others think of us, or maybe we desire approval and so we listen without realizing that words aren’t naked, they tend to cover the truth. It may be convenient to believe what others say, but it takes courage to let go of convenience, fight those demons and rise high and mighty, believe in one’s power, no matter what storms life puts amongst our sails.
Don’t let negative language control your life. Don’t let other people’s opinions get to you. Be strong and know yourself, because even if you have someone in your life to remind you of your greatness, there may come a time when you have to face this world on your own. I know it can be difficult. How can I love myself, be confident of myself, when I don’t even know who I am yet? And you really don’t have to know yourself, in fact, you never will…fully that is. You will know yourself better with age, but you can’t know all of you, because there is just an infinite amount of experiences you won’t ever live through, to know how you will react. What you do have to do, is surround yourself with positive language. Start changing your language. Substitute negative terms, for positive ones. Focus on your beauty, not on your little imperfections. In fact, make those little imperfections your perfections, I mean to say, they add to your character, make you unique. When you do that, you will release yourself of the shackles of negative language. Lastly, surround yourself with people who make you feel beautiful, that way positive language will be used naturally. Your lenses of the world can change, if your language does.
Though sometimes, it’s not our language that harms us, its others. I find it extremely depressing when I come home and see my cousin crying because he isn’t good enough. “Good enough for what?” I ask. Good enough for the world? For your friends? For yourself? For a period of time, I thought he was going through a phase of self-doubt, I asked him to tell me: why he felt this way about himself? I didn’t realize, until later, that he was being bullied. I thought to myself “who in this world is so clever, that they were able to convince my younger cousin, a prince, that he is a troll?” but I also thought “Why does my cousin listen to them?”. I’m sure we can all relate in one way or another to the experience I had with my younger cousin. If we are told a false truth enough times, we start to believe it. But we have to be strong, that voice inside of you, that you may silence, that voice who knows yourself more than anyone in the world, must speak loudly and the other negative voices must be silenced.
We tend to be our worst enemy. We chose to listen, but we don’t have to. Be aware of the power of language, of how it can be manipulated to make people believe false truths. Remember the orphans in Iowa of 1939, how they were made to believe they weren’t articulate speakers. Seek truth through knowledge, not through opinion, and you will be able to face the world on your own, with pure strength.
Now I mentioned before, that our view of the world changes when our language does. So, if for example, you eliminate words of hatred, your view of the world will be happier. Imagine this on a cultural level, see how language can change the world?