This Is How You Make Love And Wage War With Your Words

How Many Opportunities Did You Win/Lose Today?

“I am interested in language because it wounds or seduces me.”
Roland Barthes

With the right words, we create love, war, and everything between.

Certain words are hypnotic, potent, and persuasive.

Other words are mundane, insipid, and unconvincing.

But words are never neutral, they either serve you well or do you an injustice.

The way to get words on your side is to become aware of them.

By paying attention to the words you speak to loved ones, co-workers, the boss, bank manager, waiter, and even the annoying telemarketer, you begin to understand how they influence the quality of your relationships and your experience of the world.

By paying attention to the words you say to yourself, you begin to experience their considerable power over your psychological and emotional wellbeing.

With conscious words you can become more effective in every part of your life.

Words Are Your Pointing Stick

“The menu is not the meal.”
 — Alan Watts

Words are your pointing stick, not the thing you point to.

Just as the crucifix stands for, but is not, Christianity, and the arrow symbol points to, but is not, the destination, words are indicators, approximations, signs, and symbols.

This makes all words vulnerable to misunderstanding, especially with intangible things such as plans, promises, ideas, feelings, memories, and desires.

A gulf between words and experience always exist.

Sometimes the gulf works for you, as it does for dubious politicians and marketers. But often it works against you.

With major life decisions, the wrong choice of words can result in an unintended life.

For example, if you are considering spending the rest of your life with someone, the phrase, “Let’s get married,” triggers one chain of events.

“Let’s talk about what we both want, and are prepared to give in marriage,” may trigger a very different chain of events.

The declaration, “It’s over,” can break a heart, cause bitter retaliation, and a bad end to a relationship.

“I’m upset about how we relate to each other,” may forge a new understanding, or possibly a healthy end to a relationship.

When you attempt to clearly state your intentions, you know what you are doing and why you are doing it. And you stand a better chance of creating what you want.

This may all sound obvious, but most people are driven by unconscious desires and fears most of the time. They speak without purposeful intent, paving an eloquent path to misunderstandings and lost opportunities.

The Magic Of Words

“M is for magic. All the letters are, if you put them together properly. You can make magic with them.”
 — Neil Gaiman

“Expelliarmus, Ridiculous, Obliviate’’— Harry Potter

In many esoteric and magical traditions particular words are used to transform elemental and cosmic forces, thereby manipulating reality; states of consciousness and physical events.

Your everyday words are also transformative in that your words conjure images, thoughts, ideas, and feelings.

Your words call energies into existence; dark and light, depressing and uplifting.

Listen to someone complain about how terrible the world is for 30-seconds, and you will experience this.

Even if your viewpoint is opposed to that of the gloom-bringer, you can’t help but be affected. Your energy sinks and suddenly forgotten hurts reappear.

A single phrase can transform an acquaintance into a friend, a friend into a lover, or an ally into an enemy.

Supportive words are light spells, they invoke confidence and faith, e.g., “I think you’re wonderful.” “ You can do it.”

Accusative words are dark spells, they invoke fear and anger. e.g., “I’ll get you.” “You idiot.”

According to specific PSI experiments, plants, water, machines, and computers are vulnerable to the vibration and meaning of words.

Verbally berating a plant for a week will cause it to wither and perish. Speaking affectionately to it will make it flower and thrive.

{Note: I tried this with a group of people I regularly meet with to conduct such experiments, and to my surprise, it worked 3/3 times.}

When you consciously use words as a magical tool, you experience their powerful, transformative affect, for better or for worse.

Word Soup

“We seldom realize that our most private thoughts and emotions are not actually our own. For we think in terms of languages and images which we did not invent, but which were given to us by our society.”
― Alan Watts

More than you possess language, language possesses you.

You float in a kind of word soup cooked up by your family, neighborhood, and culture.

The words you choose and the way you string them together is revealing.

People can tell a lot about you by the way you speak. Your education, family, and culture, spill forth through your words causing others to sum you, to typecast you in short sentences. For example, “Ah, he’s from New Jersey. They’re rough. Don’t cross him.”

As Douglas Adams warned in his book, The Long Dark Tea-Time Of The Soul,

“Words used carelessly, as if they did not matter in any serious way, often allowed otherwise well-guarded truths to seep through.”

Familial and cultural influences unwittingly seep through, forcing you into a convenient stereotype, until you become aware of these influences and their impact.

But with self-awareness; by listening to yourself and seeing yourself objectively, you go beyond the hand-me-down words that may not accurately represent who you wish to be and how you want to be seen.

You climb out of your word soup.

Words Shape Thoughts

“Words… they’re innocent, neutral, precise, standing for this, describing that, meaning the other, so if you look after them you can build bridges across the incomprehensible chaos. But if they get their corners cut off, they’re no good anymore.” 
 — Tom Stoppard

Words are the lever of thought and action.

For a long time it was believed that thought shapes language, but in recent years, Lera Boroditsky, Professor of Cognitive Psychology at Stanford University expanded this understanding. Through research of 8 diverse cultures across as many continents, Boroditsky and her team discovered that not only does thought shape language but the words we use shape our thoughts. It is a two-way street.

In her Scientific America article, ‘How Language Shapes Thought: The Languages We Speak Affect Our Perceptions of the World,’ she writes:

“Studies have shown that changing how people talk changes how they think. Teaching people new color words, for instance, changes their ability to discriminate colors. And teaching people a new way of talking about time gives them a new way of thinking about it.”

It’s not an entirely new finding.

In his book, On Interpretation, Aristotle described in great detail how he used words to purposefully shape his thinking.

In my own experience I’ve found that it is easier to create change by altering the specific words I say to myself than to grappled with vague thoughts (estimated to be up to 60,000 a day).

Listen To Yourself

“Listen with the will to learn.” 
Unarine Ramaru

The first step in creating meaningful change in the way you think and express yourself is to listen to the words you are currently using, the everyday words that have been with you for who knows how long and become habitual.

You discover much about yourself by listening, not only to the content but also the sound, tone, and rhythm of your words.

Like a fly on the wall, listen to how you speak to yourself. Be the detective gathering information about the suspect — you.

For one week, jot down or record the single words, phrases, and internal-rants that recur throughout your day.

At the end of the week ask yourself:

  • Do your words encourage or discourage?
  • Do your monologues (rants) inspire, bore, scold or praise?
  • Who is speaking? The authority figures of your childhood, or you?
  • What does this tell you about how you’re doing emotionally, creatively?
  • Do you need to change the script?

Repetitive, passive, and condemning words often begin with these phrases, I don’t deserve… I can’t … I should be more/less… If only I were more/less... I’m too… He/She is better at…

Creative, active, praiseful words often begin with, I will…, I can also…, I’m inspired to…, I’m curious about…, I’m good at….

In this process, it’s important to just listen and not try to change your words.

Done thoroughly, this exercise reveals just how helpful or unhelpful your words are. Once you have this knowledge you can set about to change what you decide needs changing.

The objectivity you gain from this exercise creates the vital preparation necessary to change your words in a very specific, and compelling way.

Different Words For A Different Life

“There exists for everyone a series of words that have the power to destroy you. Another sentence exists, another series of words that could heal you.” 
 — Philip K Dick

Since many of your words echo your cultural and familial voices, playing with them messes with your identity in a fascinating way.

In a short time, you can reverse certain words, evict some words from your vocabulary, and blast your mind into a new linguistic stratosphere.

No-one owns words. You‘re free to use any words that put you into any desired state of consciousness.

Try these exercises:

  • Replace dull, sexless, sour, insipid, condemning words with vibrant, seductive, sweet, bold, and celebratory words.
  • Exchange negative words for positive words, and vice-versa.
  • State an opinion that is opposed to your own.
  • Use words you’ve never used before. E.g. Take the script from someone who inspires, or angers you.

Look for traits you desire, e.g., to inspire a sense of nobility and responsibility toward humanity recite Martin Luther King’s, ‘I Have A Dream’ speech.

For a woman who is feeling powerless or unattractive, ‘Phenomenal Woman’ by Maya Angelou will get you in touch with your primal, potent feminine.

Listen to how she delivers it and copy her.

Here’s an excerpt.

It’s the fire in my eyes,
And the flash of my teeth,
The swing in my waist,
And the joy in my feet.
I’m a woman
Phenomenally.
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.

Mimic the words of powerful politicians, past and present, those you like and those you loathe.

Steal lyrics from songs, words from poems, sayings from the seers, and ideas from great thinkers.

Write it down, then read it aloud.

How does it feel?

How do these words affect you?

How much control can you gain over your own existence by ingesting, digesting, and assimilating the words of others?

Initially this will feel like a silly game, but if you stick with it, intelligently selecting scripts different to yours, your lexicon of feeling will expand in a delightful and exciting way.

The Art Of Conversation

“Let us make a special effort to stop communicating with each other, so we can have some conversation.” 
― Mark Twain

Finally, let us hark back to the ancient art of conversation.

Over the last 100,000 years language has become an art, a science, a lover, a healer, a warmonger, and many thousand things.

And yet, most people stay hinged to repetitive, reactive, bland, and pragmatic words. They may go for days, perhaps weeks, without involving themselves in anything but routine communication.

This is due to their chronic need for productivity, but mostly to the fear of self-expression, connection and especially intimacy.

In ‘The Lost Art of Good Conversation,’ Sakyong Mipham writes,

“When you initiate a conversation, you fearlessly step into the unknown. Will the other person respond favorably or unfavorably? Will it be a friendly or hostile exchange? There is a feeling of being on the edge. That nanosecond of space and unknowing can be intimidating. It shows your vulnerability. You don’t know what is going to happen. You feel quite exposed. There’s a chance you’ll experience embarrassment. Yet this very feeling is what allows you to connect to the other person.”

If you can risk exposure, and place your trust in the unknown, rather than remaining safely corralled within mundane exchanges, you open a creative portal between yourself and others.

Your risk and trust is a liberating and generous act.

This is what makes a dinner party, travel, or a visit to the local store worthwhile.

The rest is just dull blah.

On my weekly visit to the local market, I often allow extra time for my interactions with purveyors of goods to go beyond the purely transactional.

In recent weeks we’ve conversed about food (naturally), music teachers, poetry, new article topics, the homely gesture of warming dinner plates, how to meet French men (for a girlfriend), minimalist lifestyle, and stargazing. I’ve interpreted dreams, told and heard stories of how lovers met.

Sure, you have a busy life, so do I. But if you plan a piece of spaciousness into your day, interesting and even wondrous encounters with people outside your usual circle and mindset pop up.

Of course, it won’t always work out. You may be stopped or shunned, but the sheer joy you derive from this practice builds a kind of social resilience to venture wider and deeper into the portal of spontaneous, creative connection.

The more you purposefully engage conversation with others in this way, with people you know and don’t know, the more you rekindle your natural capacities for wit, persuasion, imagination, story, nuance, subtext, metaphor, and even poetry.

Call To Action

Commit to expanding words beyond their utilitarian value.

Witness the limitations of your inherited language — your word soup.

Listen to yourself noting the words that serve or undermine you.

“Steal” words from others and play with these words, especially words that match your aspirations.

Share your newfound skills, risk and trust others to connect with you in the old art of conversation.

Know that in every moment you possess magical, transformational powers through the words you say to yourself and others.

All you need to do is to use your powers consciously.


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