Watching Our Words

Every day we have countless thoughts and speak innumerable words, usually without paying much attention to them. This inattention is somewhat like building a wall or foundation without paying attention to the quality of the stones used and placing them in a haphazard manner. Our words, like stones, help to build foundations for our lives.

Many of us are aware of this when it comes to the kinds of affirmations we create. We are careful to be exact, stating our desires specifically, and, when we repeat them or meditate on them, being aware and focused, knowing that the attention we give to them enhances their energy.

We don't always recognize that our thoughts and spoken words, although formulated with far less attention, can through frequent repetition accumulate an energy of their own.

Body Language

We often inflict our words on various body parts, as in:

He's a real pain in the _______.
Do you expect me to swallow that?
That makes me sick.
I feel as if I have the weight of the world on my shoulders.
My heart aches.

If you think that people cause you pain, and you think it often enough, you may find yourself experiencing physical pain. If you say that something makes you sick your body may obediently respond.

Mountains and Molehills

We need to be equally aware of how we describe situations and be especially aware of the tendency to exaggerate.

We all know that other people make things seem worse than they are. They have to wait twenty minutes in the doctor's office, and call it an outrage. They call losing someone's phone number or forgetting to buy an ingredient needed for a recipe a disaster.

I'm one of those people. I've figured out that I like to have excitement in my life, and there's nothing like a good disaster or an absorbing outrage to provide it. Such dramatic situations also make me important. The bigger the crisis the better a person I am for getting through and beyond it.

I am, however, currently creating other sources of thrills because I've realized that disasters and outrages just aren't good for me.

When I mentally describe a situation as a disaster and convince myself that it is my body responds in a way which prepares it for crisis: heightened adrenaline flow, raised heartbeat, and a general alertness which physically expresses itself as tension. I feel anxious, perhaps fearful. If I do this enough I could go into physical burnout, and have few resources available if a true disaster occurs.

The same is true if I view something as a tragedy. Here, the physical effects are the opposite of the above. A system slowdown results as I unknowingly direct the body to go into mourning, which can lead to depression.

Words Which Build Barriers

Other words can limit our ability to grow. "I'll never be able to do anything like that" is one of the more powerful limitations. Alternate versions include "I would never want to do that" and "I will always be this way."

The "never" and "always" words should be regarded with extreme caution, as should the "should" word. There surely are things that you will never or always do, but these choices are least limiting when they're made consciously and deliberately.

Also notice a variation of this, which is "If X happens I'm going to be really upset." That's planning for trouble.


What we tell ourselves is very important. What we tell others may be even more so, as it is somewhat more difficult to "take back one's words" when the principle of exaggeration is unleashed into action.

Have you ever told someone that you're furious at them when you're only annoyed? Have you emphasized how much they hurt you? Have you ever said you could never forgive them?

I have; of course, it was only to get their attention and make a point, but sometimes the point made a wound.

The Ecology of Language

Once I decided to modify my methods of self-expression my first step was to simply pay attention. I listened to how I thought and spoke. I caught myself in some pretty big exaggerations.

Then I came to the tricky part. Some schools of self-improvement urge instant behavior modification. Just don't say those words any more. Stop thinking those thoughts.

I don't like to say that this approach is wrong (or that I would never use it), but I prefer to to accept that I have a tendency to veer towards emotional extremism, and to find non-destructive ways to allow this tendency to express itself until it wears itself out. Resisting it seems only to make it become even more extreme.

This does not mean that I allow it full play when I'm speaking to other people, especially about how I feel about them. I handle things before they reach the conversational level.

Some of the methods I've learned and practice include:

Once I've gotten to the emotions I allow them to run until I reach the feeling level, a stage which in my definition of the word means being beyond words.

On the Other Hand . . .

There are times when it's helpful to exaggerate. I've noticed that the more intense I allow my happiness to be the less need I have to exaggerate the lows.

Nothing is too small to get happy or excited about. Look for every opportunity to turn feeling all right or mildly happy into an experience of joy. Whereas anxiety wears out your system and depression pours mud into it, feeling happy and joyful is the best healing you could ever give yourself.

Crystal Awareness

The ultimate truth (in terms of your personal truths) is obsidian, in either the unadulterated black form or the slightly kinder snowflake version. I don't mean to scare anyone away from the black stone. If you are feeling really stuck there's nothing quite like it, and it can also be moderated by the addition of quartz (including clear, rose, amethyst, and aventurine) in meditation. You could, for example, hold an obsidian in one hand and a clear quartz in the other, with rose quartz and aventurine at the heart center.

Clear quartz is another good choice, for while obsidian shows us our darkness clear quartz will remind us that ultimately we are much bigger than our dramatics.

Clear calcite is also very helpful, for it can help us to see that the current stage on which we are acting isn't the only one available to us.

I also recommend citrine, because of the importance we may feel at being in a dramatic or tragic situation. This stone can help to return us to a sense of self-esteem which needs no external justification.

The Essences of Feeling

In choosing essences you may want to first identify your emotional pattern. If for example, you tend to extreme highs and lows ("the best," "the worst") consider the mood-balancing Scleranthus (Bach Flower Remedy). If you tend towards fear (for example, you often fear that you will lose your job) Mimulus (Bach) is a good choice.

Hopelessness is best treated by Sweet Chestnut (Bach), while the less severe state of discouragement may respond to Gentian (Bach).

A visit to the Bach Flower Remedies description page may provide you with additional choices. More than two-thirds of the Remedies now have longer articles; click on an underlined name to read about it in more detail.

You may also want to look through the descriptions of the Wild Earth Animal Essences.

Some specific essences which can be helpful for emotional honesty are Deerbrush (FES) and Dolphin (Wild Earth Animal Essences). The Owl essence can help you see past the obvious to the real truth of your feelings.

Beyond the Rainbow
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