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The Power of Words

How you use your words greatly affects your life — and those around you.



For many, many years man has created rituals and spells using words. Ancient people believed that words have power. That if you say a spell using the right intention, you could affect reality.

Today, people don’t really believe that just because you say something, it comes true. However, experiments have revealed that people who are prayed for heal faster. The power of thought, intention, prayer…whatever you want to call it, is actually real. Only, maybe not in the way some people may think. It’s not like saying “please let it rain” will make it rain. All experiments have revealed is that other people’s thoughts/prayers can influence people. Of course, there’s also quantum physics, which seem to suggest that thoughts can affect reality.

People in this day and age often talk about The Secret — the book that stated that you can make anything happen simply by thinking the right thoughts. Now, while your thoughts influence your life, possibly more so than anything else, that doesn’t mean you can entirely control reality — it’s not like you’re alone on this planet. You’re not the only force in operation. Likewise, if you spend all day worrying about your health, then pray for healing for five minutes a day — which is the stronger thought? If you want to master your thoughts, it’s a minute by minute process. Where is your focus? Most of the time our subconscious is thinking a lot of thoughts we are barely aware of. Only when you reach the point where your annoyance, happiness, anger, etc. boil over do you notice what’s been going on.

More than anything becoming aware of your thoughts allows you to determine how you want to view reality — choosing the point of view that serves you most. Thinking “I’m a failure because I failed that test” and thinking “gosh, I learned so much by failing that test,” lead to two very different states of mind. One will serve you, one won’t.

Likewise, getting ketchup all over your clothes when at a big party, you can either see it as a great conversation starter that you can have excellent fun with during the night, or you can see it as a huge embarrassment and hide away in the shadows.

If you look upon it that way, can you see how much power your words hold? Depending on what you’re telling yourself, you feel and therefore act in different ways.

Now, this is all about you, but what about the words you use to describe others? Imagine you meet a new employee at work and on their first day, you tell them all the things that annoy you about a colleague. Your colleague may have done lots of great stuff, but that day you’re annoyed with them because of something that happened, so you vent your frustration. This, in turn, may lead to the new employee avoiding that colleague. Your words may have prevented a great friendship, or work partnership from forming.

Similarly, people tend to have a lot of opinions about things that they don’t even understand. Friends get together to discuss lovers and dish out advice about people they’ve never met. At best they have one side of the story. That story may, or may not be distorted depending on the person telling it. On top of it, you might be biased when giving advice — maybe you’re having a rough patch with relationships, or maybe you’re currently seeing the world through rose-colored glasses.

That’s not to say we can’t all give advice. Just be careful when you do so. Is your advice based on facts, or bias?

Whenever you put something into words, it becomes tangible. And once that happens, you possess a certain level of power.

There is a book called The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz. It’s about the four agreements you can make with yourself to live a happier and more fulfilled life. One of the agreements is: “be impeccable with your word.” This is for the simple reason that your words can help shape reality; both for yourself and other people.

I was reminded of this the other day as I stumbled across the hacking incident in 2014 where Sony Entertainment had some emails hacked. By some emails I mean over 100,000 emails. And amongst them were once where they dissed stars like Angelina Jolie and Leonardo DiCaprio, as well as cracking racist jokes about Barrack Obama.

Expressing dislike for a person is normal and banter often involves taking the piss out of politicians we don’t like. Ever cracked a Trump joke? I know I have. But these emails were beyond tasteless. Some were downright disgusting. It wasn’t Jolie, Obama and DiCaprio that looked bad, but the execs at Sony.

When you speak ill of someone, imagine them being in the room. It’s one thing to give valid criticism and express your hurt, or dislike of their behavior. It’s another thing to say tasteless comments that will help neither them, nor yourself.

When you next want to moan and complain, or say that someone is a horrible person, think about how you’re spending your time and energy and how that will reflect back on your own life. Likewise, when you’re moaning about things in your life, or caught thinking thoughts about how bad you are, how horrible life is, etc. consider how you’re spending your time and energy. If you want to create great things in your life, start viewing events through a favorable lens. What can you learn? How can you grow? How can you turn something around so what seems like a disadvantage turns into an advantage? Sometimes a roadblock makes your re-route to a much more favorable route. 

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As we write in The Shared Heart, “The real soulmate is a state of consciousness, not a person.” That being said, there can also be an outer soulmate, or life partner, an ancient connection with another soul where the primary purpose is serving together, blessing the earth together, more than simply loving one another.

Joyce and I have a deep affinity for St. Francis and St. Clare of Assisi, really ever since we saw the movie, Brother Sun and Sister Moon, in 1973, and I left the movie theater wanting to give away all our possessions. Well, I never did that but, in our own way, we have tried to live a life of simplicity and spirituality.

And there is another reason we feel especially close to Francis and Clare. It was their profound love for each other. Were these two saints also soulmates? I believe so. How much time did they spend together? Very little. Did they ever have a sexual relationship? I seriously doubt it.

Then why am I convinced they are soulmates? First of all, I don’t claim to be a Franciscan scholar. However, I do have a shelf-full of books about Francis and Clare, mostly Francis, for very little has been recorded about Clare. These include the earliest works written by those who were actually with these two.

From all that I have read, it is clear how much these two great souls loved each other. For the purpose of this short article, I have to be brief.

Clare was just a teen from a noble family when she first heard Francis preach in about 1210, but he lit a spiritual fire within her that eventually led her to run away from her family. Francis initiated her as the first woman in his then little band of followers. He eventually cloistered her at San Damiano, the first church that he rebuilt. And there she stayed for the rest of her life, with a growing number of women, including her own mother and sister.

There are several recorded events about these two saints that reveal the profound love that they shared. One time, Francis was struggling with the direction of his life, whether to live his life as a hermit in seclusion or to continue preaching and traveling. He sent one of his brothers to San Damiano to instruct Clare to pray for divine guidance. Her prayer was answered. His life should be a path of service in the world. So great was his trust in Clare that he immediately obeyed her directive and set out on the road. Even so, he balanced his life with periods of seclusion and prayer in the most remote, and austere, places.

Another time, probably before Clare was established at San Damiano, she was walking with him in the wintertime along a snowy road. She asked, “Francesco, when will I see you again?” Probably to put her off, because I believe he was a bit scared of his love for her, he said, “When you find a rose blooming in the snow.” He was probably confident in the impossibility of this happening in the dead of winter. As the story goes, she immediately walks into the woods, finds a rose in full blossom, and returns to show Francis. That’s how powerful Clare’s love was for Francis.

Well, from the different reports, Clare hardly got to have any time with Francis in person. Soul to soul, they were always together. Clare finally had her wish granted near the end of Francis’ life. Very ill and blind, he was brought to San Damiano so that Clare could minister to his many ailments. Even if she couldn’t cure him like she did for so many others (for by then, throngs of people came to her for healing), she still could tend to the man who awakened her heart to the presence of God.

Clare devoted her life to God and to Francis. Each autumn, during our retreat in Assisi, we bring the group to San Damiano, where many can feel the powerful presence of Francis and Clare, even in the blocks of stone that Francis carried and put into place to rebuild the small church. We tell stories about the two divine lovers in the little room where she slept with her spiritual sisters, and later died. Frequently, other groups who understand English linger to hear the stories. And we see Clare’s tiny private garden, where she had a view of Mt. Subasio. She could feel when he was up on the mountain, and could join him in prayer, blessing his ministry no matter where he was.

Perhaps my favorite story is one that had numerous witnesses. Clare once revealed to her sisters, “If only I could have a meal with Francesco.” Very likely, she never had that privilege. Somehow, word got back to the brothers about Clare’s desire, and they approached Francis, saying something like, “Hey Francesco, all Chiara wants is a simple meal with you. Don’t be a jerk!” They probably didn’t say that last part.

At last he relented, but he didn’t want to be alone with Clare, so he insisted they be chaperoned by several sisters and brothers. Clare arrived at the Portiuncula (the “little portion,” a tiny church he had also rebuilt that became the center of the Franciscan movement). The sisters and brothers laid out a simple meal and Francis and Clare began to pray.

Meanwhile, up the hill in Assisi, people looked down at the Portiuncula and saw flames that seemed to be consuming the little church. Alarmed, the townspeople came running down the hill with buckets of water to put out the fire. When they arrived, however, the flames they saw was a spiritual, not a physical, fire coming from the divine rapture of these two saints and soulmates.

They never did get to eat the food, so great was their spiritual meal!

Here are a few opportunities to bring more love and growth into your life, at the following longer events led by Barry and Joyce Vissell:

Jul 21-26, 2019 — Shared Heart Summer Retreat at Breitenbush Hot Springs, OR

Sep 24-30, 2019 — Assisi Retreat, Italy

Feb 11-16, 2020 — The Couples Journey, Aptos

Jun 7-14, 2020 — Shared Heart Alaska Cruise, leaving from Seattle

Joyce & Barry Vissell, a nurse/therapist and psychiatrist couple since 1964, are counselors near Santa Cruz, CA, who are widely regarded as among the world's top experts on conscious relationship and personal growth. They are the authors of eight books, including two new books, To Really Love a Woman and To Really Love a Man.

Call 831-684-2299 for further information on counseling sessions by phone or in person, their books, recordings or their schedule of talks and workshops. Visit their web site at SharedHeart.org for their free monthly e-heartletter, their updated schedule, and inspiring past articles on many topics about relationship and living from the heart.

Isn’t it time that we move beyond religion and rules and belief into honest spirituality which is based on personal experience? Religion offers community which feels comforting and guidelines for behavior which build character. But true spirituality requires an adult’s presence to her own experience. Thinking about what an authority tells us is, at best, a jumping off point for us to assume our own authority.

Developing your personal spirituality means that you choose to participate with Life as an adult. You own your responsibility not only for your behavior but for your thoughts and for conflicts lying just below your awareness. You know that at your core you are a spiritual being having a human experience. You accept that this lifetime is a gift for you to learn some truths and, wisely, you surrender. You know that change is constant and you release your hold on everything, appreciating in this moment what you have been given but not demanding that it continue.

The emphasis is on attending. What am I supposed to learn from this frustration? What is my lesson in losing what I had loved? How am I gifted by the obstacles that block my hoped-for path? We pay attention to the details of our lives in a non-proprietary way.

Through our surrender we see pattern in our experience. We learn to listen to Life and to trust its tugs. We notice that we are asked to submit and to receive. We practice presence. We experience everything, inside and outside, and we release it. We practice gratitude, especially for what we don’t like. ‘Thank you for the opportunity to learn patience while I sit at this red light.’ ‘Thank you for showing me the part of myself I hate in another whom I find irritating.’

A Spirituality of Your Own

And we notice that the details of the day lead us deeper within ourselves. When we pay attention to what happens to us, we are led to what happens within us. We learn more by observing than by attempting to direct.

When we appreciate the unity of the outside world and the inside world, then we truly experience our own spirituality. Spirituality is oneness. It isn’t light and joy and beauty and otherworldly music. It’s the baby crying and the cat messing on the new carpet and the car that stops on the freeway and the job that doesn’t materialize. And it’s saying, “Yes, thank you. Now show me the next step.”

When we embrace our spirituality we say “Yes” to everything that happens because we know that we are one with everything. Our lifetime is not an opportunity to run our will. We are not on earth to see what we can make of ourselves. When we accept Life as an adventure and know that we are the students, then we open to learn. Openness, attention, and surrender are the hallmarks of a mature spirituality.

About Author -

Ruth Cherry, PhD

Ruth is the author of Living in the Flow: Practicing Vibrational Alignment, Accepting Unconditional Love, Transformation Workbook, and Open Your Heart.

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