Can Words Really Set You Free
The speaker in black pants and a emerald blouse, she’s winding up her words and, consciously, I lean closer. I’ve guzzled down her talk on language shaping thoughts the moment she got started. What best has she saved for last?
“And so, we should ask ourselves: Why do I think the way that I do? How could I think differently?”
I smile and nod. She's talking about freedom.
Soon after, words of my own spring from hers. Words I want to tell every person alive.
And what’s true is that you can change the way you think.
Said plain: The words in your head? The critical, fearful, and shaming ones? They could change.
They could change into truthful, helpful, hopeful ones. The kind of thoughts you like having. The kind you welcome, rather than fight.
I’ll be honest: there’s work involved. Because changing thoughts usually involves changing beliefs. Compared to thoughts, beliefs are deeper. More established. More pervasive. And they like to hide in our subconscious (that is, outside our awareness). So, uncovering them takes some effort.
Uprooting false beliefs takes intention, and repetition, and determination. It takes our vigilant attentiveness to any ways they try to replant themselves. And it takes a willingness to actively plant and grow beliefs that are true.
There’s also work involved in changing thinking patterns. Work like recognising how certain experiences predictably trigger the same thoughts. Work like examining these thoughts to see if they’re true. If they can take us onwards. Work like deliberately challenging old, same thoughts and exchanging them for new, true ones.
Sounds hard? Yes, it is. But hard things are usually the things that are worth doing. Because of what they produce in us.
And because of what’s on the other side of them.