Words Are Fuel for Emotions
Words are fuel for emotions, just as thoughts are. As a matter of fact, our words give our thoughts verbal expression. It’s bad enough to think something negative, but verbalizing negativity makes it even worse. The effect it has on us is inestimable. Oh, how I wish that everyone in the world understood the power of their words and would learn to discipline what comes out of their mouths. Words are containers for power, and as such they have a direct effect on our emotions. Words fuel good moods or bad moods; in fact, they fuel our attitudes and have a huge impact on our lives and our relationships.
Words are containers for power, and as such they have a direct effect on our emotions. A man has joy in making an apt answer, and a word spoken at the right moment—how good it is!
In Proverbs 21:23 we are told that if we guard our mouths and tongues, we
will keep ourselves from trouble. Proverbs also tells us that “death and life are in the power of the tongue, and they who indulge in it shall eat the fruit of it [for death or life]” (18:21). The message cannot be any clearer than that. If we speak positive and good things, then we minister life to ourselves. We increase the emotion of joy. However, if we speak negative words, then we minister death
and misery to ourselves; we increase our sadness, and our mood plummets.
Why not help yourself first thing every day? Don’t get up each morning and
wait to see how you feel and then rehearse every feeling to anyone who will listen. If you do that, you are giving your emotions authority over you. You
become the servant of your emotions, and that is definitely not a good position to be in. Sometimes Just Talking Does Make It So Harry got up yesterday morning and felt a little down. He didn’t understand why he felt the way he did, and he began to complain to his wife. He said, “I don’t know why I feel so down today. I think I’m getting depressed. And this is not a good day for a bad mood because I have a presentation to make at work that will determine whether or not we get that new account I told you about.” Throughout his shower and breakfast, he’d think, I wish I felt happier, I’m feeling worse as the minutes tick by, and What a day to be in a lousy mood. By the time Harry left for work, he was dreading the day. On the way to the office, he hit a major traffic jam due to a broken traffic light. “Great! This is just great,” he said to no one in particular. “This is all I need. Now, on top of how I feel, I’m going to be late. Just what I needed… more pressure.” He got through the traffic and as he attempted to enter the parking garage he always used, he found the entrance blocked off with a sign advising that the parking space lines were being repainted that day. His frustration and sour mood sank even further. The more upset he became, the worse his mood got, and the worse his mood got, the more he said that fed it and made it even worse.
Harry finally got to his office and went over his notes one last time before
making his way to the boardroom to meet the potential new client. Several minor things happened that aggravated him. One man said the room was cold and asked if the heat could be turned up. Harry was already hot! He was just about to begin his presentation when someone got a call on his cell phone. Everything had to be put on hold while the entire group checked to make sure their phones were off. Harry was thinking things that were not nice, such as: These stupid people, why didn’t they think of that before the meeting
began? When he started his presentation, his tone of voice was a bit sharp. He didn’t smile once during the presentation—it never occurred to him to. By now Satan was influencing Harry’s mind, mouth, mood, and attitude. The
whole time he was giving his presentation he was thinking, This is useless; they won’t choose us. I’m doing a terrible job, and it is all because I just happened to wake up in a bad mood. I don’t know why things like this happen. They always happen at the wrong time. I needed a good mood today and lots of joyful feelings, but instead I got depression. Why did I have to feel this way today of all days?
Harry did not get the account, his boss was not pleased with him, and he was
severely reprimanded for his attitude. He went back into his office, shut the door,
and called his wife. Once again he rehearsed all his bad luck. He talked about it for forty-five minutes and then said he was so depressed he couldn’t even talk anymore.
The story of Harry is fictional, but it’s also classic; things like this happen to
people all the time. But very few ever realize they could have turned the day
around early in the morning by choosing to think on something good and say
positive things no matter how they felt when they woke up. You and I can turn a
bad mood around by talking about something happy. Talk about your blessings,
or something you are looking forward to, and you will soon see your mood
improve. I am not suggesting that you can control every emotion you have with
your words, but I know from experience that you can help yourself. We can talk
ourselves into a better mood when we need to. Why do we feel the way we feel? Perhaps it is because we talk the way we
talk! The Wise Man’s Mind Instructs His Mouth The Bible speaks of wise men and foolish men. It says that the fool’s mouth is his ruin, and his lips are a snare (trap) to him (see Prov. 18:7). A person would
need to be foolish indeed to use her own mouth and words to ruin her own life,
but people do it all the time. Why? Simply because they don’t understand the power of words. We know that our words impact other people, but do we realize that our words impact ourselves and our lives? Harry is a perfect example. His story may be fictional, but we all know people like Harry in real life who talk themselves into all kinds of bad situations. It’s no wonder Proverbs 17:20 tells us that “he who has a wayward and
crooked mind finds no good, and he who has a willful and contrary tongue will
fall into calamity.” One of the biggest mistakes we make is to think we have no control over how we feel or what we do. God has given us a spirit of discipline and self-control, and it is called self-control because God gives us this tool to control ourselves. We all have it, but do we use it? Anything we have but never use becomes dormant and powerless. Do you work out regularly? Why do you do that? You exercise to keep your bones and your muscles strong—to guard your health.The writer of Proverbs also tells us that “he who guards his mouth and his tongue keeps himself from troubles” (21:23). That is a wise man.
Millions of people live miserable and unfruitful lives because they are
deceived. They believe they are merely victims of whatever comes their way. If
they wake up feeling depressed, they offer no resistance, but erroneously assume that they must behave the way they feel. I know this very well because I lived in this same type of deception for a large part of my life. If the deceived person is offended and feels angry, he usually expresses his anger and even hangs on to it as if it is a battle prize. It occurs to very few that they can let the anger go and trust God to take care of their vindication.
The world is filled with discouraged, downtrodden individuals who could
make their situations better by simply choosing to continue on in hope. Once we learn the power of hope and practice it, it is a hard habit to break. Just as a
person can form a habit of being discouraged each time things don’t go her way, she can learn to encourage herself through hoping that a blessing is right around the corner. What we say in difficult times determines how long the difficulty will last and how intense the difficulty will become. I am certainly not saying that we can control everything that happens to us by choosing right words to speak, but we can control how we respond to the things that happen to us, and choosing right thoughts and words helps us do that. You can’t control the wind, but you can adjust the sails.
Say What You Say on Purpose
I have probably never written a book that did not include some teaching about
the power of words, and I probably never will. That is how important this subject is, and I want you to take it seriously. There is a time to talk and a time to keep silent. Sometimes the best thing we can do is say nothing. When we do say something, it is wisdom to think first and be purposeful in what we say. If we truly believe that our words are filled with life or death, why wouldn’t we
choose what we say more carefully?
Even a fool when he holds his peace is considered wise; when he closes
his lips he is esteemed a man of understanding.
I firmly believe that if we do what we can do, God will do what we cannot do.
We can control what comes out of our mouths with the help of the Holy Spirit
and by applying principles of discipline. Even when we talk about our problems
or the things that are bothering us, we can talk about them in a positive and
hopeful way. I have been having some back problems, and my daughter Sandy called this morning to see how my back was. I told her it was still hurting, but that I was thankful it wasn’t as bad as it could have been. I said, “I am sleeping well, and that is a positive thing.” In other words, I didn’t deny the problem, but I am making an effort to have a positive outlook. I am determined to look at what I do have and not just at what I don’t have. I know in time the backache will be taken care of, and I believe that until then, God will give me the strength to do what I need to do.
In 1911, the Mona Lisa turned up missing and could not be found for two
years. It had been stolen. But an interesting phenomenon of human nature occurred. In the two years of its absence, more people looked at the spot where it previously rested than had actually seen the painting in the two years prior to its theft.
Just like all those visitors to the Louvre, many of us spend our lives more
concerned about what’s missing than about what we have, and sadly we often
talk more about our problems than we do our blessings. Talking about problems
causes us to focus on them, and as I say often, “What we focus on becomes
larger and larger.” I believe that misery is an option! Things don’t make us
miserable without our permission.
Robert Schuller said, “The good news is that the bad news can be turned into
good news when you change your attitude.” And if you can’t muster up a good attitude concerning something you’re unhappy about, you can at least try to downplay the negative.
My friend Antoinette, who lives in New York, told me about something that
occurred recently that upset her terribly. She was driving home from visiting
relatives at the end of Memorial Day weekend. As she approached the George
Washington Bridge, hundreds of cars bottlenecked as they approached a handful of toll booths. Traffic was moving very slowly, and as she was following a big SUV in front of her through a series of traffic cones, she heard a siren from behind, and a policeman told her through a megaphone to stop and get out of the car. He proceeded to treat her like a criminal, barking orders for her to hand over
her license, registration, and insurance papers and get back into her car. She had
no idea what she’d done wrong, and politely asked him what the problem was. He ignored her question and started writing a ticket. A few minutes later he
called her back to his car and said, “You saw those cones. Now you’re going to
court.” To make matters worse, the ticket had no fine, but it did have a court date—
she was ordered to appear before a judge three weeks later. Now she would have
to take time off from work to appear in court… and she didn’t even know what
she had done wrong! She had been under a lot of pressure, and that incident set her off completely.
She started crying, cried her way across the bridge, and was still crying when she
arrived home half an hour later. Obviously, she was upset about more than just the ticket.
Normally, she would have told her friends and her colleagues at work about
the incident, since it was the overriding memory of her holiday weekend. But
over the next day or so, whenever she was tempted to tell the story, she stopped
herself. It occurred to her that talking about the incident would just reinforce her bad mood and upset her. So when her friends asked her about her weekend, she just talked about the good parts and didn’t tell them about her encounter with the law.
Antoinette learned quite a lesson: by deciding not to talk about her troubles,
she actually was able to keep her turmoil down to a minimum. If you will make a decision that you are going to say as little as possible about your problems and disappointments in life, they won’t dominate your thoughts and your mood. And if you talk as much as possible about your blessings and hopeful expectations, your frame of mind will match them. Be sure each day is filled with words that fuel joy, not anger, depression, bitterness, and fear. Talk yourself into a better mood! Find something positive to say in every situation.
A little boy was overheard talking to himself as he strutted through the
backyard, wearing his baseball cap and toting a ball and bat: “I’m the greatest
hitter in the world,” he announced. Then he tossed the ball into the air, swung at it, and missed. “Strike one!” he yelled. Undaunted, he picked up the ball and said again, “I’m the greatest hitter in the world!” He tossed the ball into the air. When it came down he swung again and missed. “Strike two!” he cried. The boy then paused a moment to examine his bat and ball carefully. He spit on his hands and rubbed them together. He straightened his cap and said once more, “I’m the greatest hitter in the world!” Again he tossed the ball up into the air and swung at it. He missed. “Strike three! Wow!” he exclaimed. “I’m the greatest pitcher in the world!”
This boy had such a positive attitude that he concluded if he missed the ball
three times, the only possible reason was that he was such a great pitcher even he
could not hit his own pitching. He was determined to say something positive,
and I strongly imagine that determination kept him from getting discouraged and in a bad, sad mood.
Decision and confession: I will say positive, hopeful things no matter how I feel.