“Your beliefs become your thoughts, your thoughts become your words, your words become your actions, your actions become your habits, your habits become your values, your values become your destiny.”~Mahatma Gandhi
Our thoughts become our words, which ultimately become…our destinies.
Now wait a minute, before you bite the bait luring you to just read that quote, think you “hear what it’s saying,” and then quickly move on to the other tasks on your ever-growing to-do list….read that quote again. Chew on that thickly profound statement a bit. Really think about it…let it sink in from your head to your heart.
The thoughts we think and the words we say ultimately determine our own destinies.
Now, turn the spotlight on yourself and your own life for a moment:
Examine your story, think about the events that have played out in your past…in your day today…even in the past hour.
- What situations come to mind? Any heated moments that left you feeling frustrated, angry, or sad
- Any words you recall saying or receiving that inflicted harm?
- What events can you remember wherein certain beliefs and thoughts caused you to feel a certain way (good or bad)?
- Are there any times you recall wherein your feelings, thoughts, or assumptions bled into the words you said or the actions you took? With yourself and/or others?
Drawing a blank? Having trouble thinking of any specific situations? Here, let me help you out with an example to get the juices flowing:
- Scenario: Husband gets caught up at work, forgets he has dinner plans with wife, forgets to call
- Belief (wife): “I’m not important”
- Thought (wife): “My husband doesn’t care about me.”
- Words (wife): “You don’t care about me, you’re such a jerk!”
- Action: Wife distances herself from husband, resorts to the silent treatment, learns to be less trusting…husband avoids wife to avoid conflict
- Habit: Wounds multiply; feelings, thoughts, and beliefs left unresolved; resentments buried over time
- Destiny: Lack of intimacy between husband and wife; marriage suffers
Perhaps you’re still skeptical, perhaps you think, “OK sure, words have an impact, I know that…but come on…my destiny? That’s a bit extreme.”
If that’s where you find yourself today, Friend…I get it. I know, I know. The whole concept may sound a bit extreme…perhaps a bit “woo-woo” for comfort. In fact, I think perhaps I would be sharing in that exact same sentiment today…had my life not been completely turned inside out and upside down as a result of certain beliefs, thoughts, and words influencing my actions, habits, and values…which, over time, impacted the trajectory of my life.
My past’s trajectory had me destined for complete destruction; had I not decided to pivot and exert an incredible amount of effort to change my beliefs, thoughts, actions, and habits, I would have been doomed for destruction. Ultimately (thank you, God!), I made drastic changes in my life to allow me to begin to live in accordance with my own core values (those that resonate with my soul and line up with God’s Word, rather than the values impressed upon my by others). Ultimately, the changes I made in my life – starting with my beliefs, thoughts, and words – ended up changing my own destiny. A destiny I am extremely excited to see play out in God’s good timing and as God sees fit.
Interested in hearing a bit more on how words had an impact on my life? Here, let me provide some more color…
Words: How They Wreaked Havoc in my Life
For those unfamiliar with my story, my past includes a dark season that had me spiraling down deep into the throes of anorexia. When I hit rock bottom in 2016, I surrendered and chose life, embarking upon a journey of recovery…a journey which has been very enlightening and life changing, to say the least. If you’re interested in hearing more about my recovery journey, find more on that in my previous post:My Undoing: Ruined for Redemption.
My recovery journey required me to look deep inside. At the beginning, it was excruciatingly difficult and exhausting to even begin to identify the emotional barriers that existed in my interior world. Let alone, begin the process of tearing down those walls. I had no idea where to begin. I had so many fears…so many questions…
- I thought I was fine. Clearly I’m not fine. What’s wrong with me?
- What caused the emotional barriers I now face?
- What led me to build up walls inside?
- How did I get here? How did I become prisoner of my own internal world…encapsulated by walls I hadn’t even realized existed?
- What had contributed to the walls I apparently had thought would protect me from the hardships of life, the hurts from my past, my shame, and the judgments of others…but in turn, left me a isolated, scared, and alone?
- Help! I want out! How do I get out of this prison?
- How can I be here? I’m not a person who needs help…I help people. How is this possible? Why can’t I “fix” this?
It required a whole lot of patience, endurance, emotional effort…and basically an “undoing” for a “redoing.” But in time, I began to learn how to identify the core issues that led me to resort to anorexia. For a long time, I had thought anorexia and issues with food was the problem that needed to be “ fixed.” Oooh, how I wished many times over along my recovery journey that was true. Anorexia and a disordered relationship with food, my friends…is just a symptom.
A symptom of a dark, stormy Hell that resides below the surface. Anorexia is fueled by and feeds off of toxic limiting beliefs, painful past memories, internalized thoughts, and dehumanizing and shame-filled self-talk. Beliefs, thoughts, words: the fuel for the life-consuming fire of anorexia.
For years, my thoughts plagued me and kept me from seeing myself as God sees me. Toxic thoughts informed by lies, misinformed assumptions, painful memories, and brokenness played on loop, which had me brainwashed into belief: “you’re unworthy, you’re not good enough, you’re a sham, you’re unloveable, you’re not important…”
To avoid the sting of the cutting, snarling lies, I was determined to “be better”…to “fix” myself…to “prove” myself. Prove my worth to others, yes…but mainly, myself.
I believed if I could become a “better version of myself,” I’d somehow love myself: I’d be able to soften the grip of my inner-critic’s choke-hold and ultimately be freed from its bondage.
However, the more I tried to run and escape the toxicity of my thoughts and beliefs, it only reinforced their grip and left me grasping for anything to make the pain stop. But I couldn’t avoid the pain.
I was lured by the illusion that if I could control how others thought of me, if I could get others to believe I was “worthy” – then perhaps maybe, I would believe it as well. So I set out on a mission to “be the best ‘me’ I could be.”
This “ideal me” looks different for everyone. What this looked like for me? Perfection and over-achievement – or as close as I could darn well come to it – in all areas of my life. Any standard set in life (e.g., school, work, image/appearance, status, etc.): I set out to achieve with flying colors. I thought, “more success, more achievement = more respect, more worth, more importance.”
And so, without my conscious awareness, the trajectory of my life was set: my identity and worth would be something to be attained, something to be achieved, something to be determined by others.
I had unknowingly agreed to a destiny that required me to live masked and hide my true self from others; a destiny that robbed me of all my personal power and put my self-worth and self-identity in the hands of others.
Ultimately, however, after years and years of failed attempts, what I found was no matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t control how others viewed me, whether they liked me, or what they thought of me. Heck, I couldn’t even figure out how to control how I thought of myself.
My bruised ego and self-loathing made me an easy target for anorexia when it came knocking.
I welcomed the Masked Foe of Destruction into my life: because at face-value, it appeared to bring deliverance. However, what I saw as deliverance was merely a mask: for, behind that mask lay evil, despair, loneliness, and for some…even death.
I know it’s hard for those who have never struggled with an eating disorder to understand this in full; but by restricting my food intake, I thought I had finally found something that could control my experienced pain and shaming thoughts. Restriction helped numb the uncomfortable pain created by my beliefs, thoughts, the harsh words of my own self-talk, and the stinging words from others. It helped me numb the shame, the pain of fear, the pain of disappointment, the pain of loneliness…amongst a laundry list of other insecurities that plagued me.
Perhaps you don’t struggle with an eating disorder or disordered eating; but we all have our own “Masked Foes of Destruction” in our lives. Some numbing devices, such as anorexia, drugs, or alcohol, are more externally apparent to others.
But we all have our own sources of numbing that lead to destruction in our lives. And they are all toxic.
What Masked Foes of Destruction (masked as “life” or “escape”) are currently in your own life? What numbing devices are your go-to’s? What things do you habitually turn to in an effort to run from uncomfortable feelings/thoughts, hide from problems, seek quick thrills of pleasure, or avoid conflict or challenges? Shopping? Work? Keeping up with the Jones’? The thrill of “new” experiences? Social media? Sex? The need to please? Keeping up a masked persona, hiding your true self and your true problems? Keeping up the image of a “Pinterest-worthy” life?
The possibilities are endless and look different for us all, but they all have the same result: numbing and escape. For me, anorexia was the numbing agent of all numbing agents. History had shown me that I couldn’t control much in my life…but I could control my food intake. And not only did obsessing over my food and body cause me to feel as if I was in control; but it also made me feel powerful, important, and seen. After all, the weight loss that resulted from continued restriction was heavily praised and championed; reinforced as I received praise from others…
- Wow, you’ve lost so much weight! Good for you! You look great! You look so much better!
- Oh my gosh, you’re so “good” – you’re so “healthy!” (referring to my ability to deprive myself and say “no” to certain foods)
- Oh my gosh, I’m so jealous
The praises and additional attention I received from others (at least for a time, before my body professed the internal struggle I was battling) left me hungry for more, further fueling my need to continue down this path, trumping the concerns, reservations, and fears I had inside.
In time, the destructive actions of restriction and eating disordered behaviors soon became entrenched habits…that had they not been stopped…would have resulted in a very dark and lonely destiny. Most likely for me, even an untimely death.
To heal from the bondage of my past and recover from my eating disorder, I had to unlearn the toxic values, habits, actions, thoughts, and beliefs that had tainted my past.
I had to rediscover my core values and true beliefs. I had to learn to combat the lies and relearn and reinforce the truths. I had to learn to take my thoughts captive daily…moment-by-moment, filtering them through God’s Word, my core values, and my true beliefs.
Ultimately, throughout my journey these past few years, I have learned an incredible lesson in the incredible power of words. I’ve seen firsthand how my beliefs inform my thoughts, which inform my words inform, which inform my actions. I’ve seen how ultimately, words can impact the trajectory of my life.
Words: Power for Destruction…but also Power for Good
My own story shows how words have the power to potentially bring affliction and destruction. However, I have also seen how that same power in words can be used for incredible good.
Words can be used to heal, to soothe, to encourage, to motivate, to teach. They can be used to spread love, support others, combat lies, bring together, tear down barriers, reinforce truths.
Words, when used rightly, have the POWER TO CHANGE ONE’S LIFE FOR GOOD AND TO SET ONESELF FREE.
And so, in light of my past and my own life story, I think you can understand why words have become very important to me. I now try to be extremely careful and incredibly purposed with my words. I feel called and purposed, to not only use the power of words to impact my own life for good, but also the lives of others.
In upcoming posts, I will be sharing some of the ways I have found it helpful to keep my words and thoughts in check and keep them grounded in life-giving truth. I will be sharing practices I have incorporated to help me be more present, awake, and aware each day, enabling me to become more successful at catching limiting beliefs and lies as they arise. As I become more aware, I’m able to be more diligent in stopping the lies in their tracks, tossing them out with the rest of the garbage I refuse to let into my life, and lighting them on fire with flames of truth. As I said, I’ll be elaborating more on this in the days, weeks, and months to come. To start, I wanted to share with you a practice I have found incredibly helpful: selecting a word of the year.
In my next post (which I will be sharing with you early next week), I will be expanding upon this practice in more detail: things to consider, questions to ask yourself…as well as identify some emotions or fears that may come up. I will also be sharing with you the word I ultimately selected for 2019.
However, for now, I leave you with this. There is power in words: power for good, but also destruction. So it is very important that we pay attention to our words: those we say to others, as well as those we say to ourselves.
Bring Awareness to the Words in Your Life
In the coming days, I encourage you to pay close attention to the words you think and the words you say. Take note of them: become aware of the words that roll around in your thoughts and speech. Take special notice to the thoughts that seem to come up time and time again. Consider also the words said by others that afflict you and cause you harm.
There is no need to shame yourself for the thoughts or actions that are presently in your life. Just take notice, become aware…perhaps even jot them down. I’ll be sharing more insight on some of the changes and practices I’ve incorporated to help myself become more aware of my own words, thoughts, and beliefs. But for now: when you do become aware of any words, thoughts, or beliefs that harm you and do not serve you, do your best to fight back. Replace those negative thoughts, limiting beliefs, and toxic words with affirming statements dripping with truth.
All right, my friends. Thank you so much for listening to my thoughts on the power of words. I’ll check in with you next week with my more on “my word for 2019.”
Until then, sending much love and tons of positive vibes your way. 🙂