Be mindful of the power of the spoken word

Author Gary Chapman describes words as either "bullets or seeds." Pause for a moment and consider that metaphor. Chapman surely reminds us of the true measure of power that comes from the spoken word.

From a throwaway comment to an affectionately-teasing nickname, to an emotion-fueled shout that comes splashing out of our mouths. Are we building our children up or are tearing them down?

Is calling them a “little terror” or “stinky-pants” (even jokingly) going to have any positive influence on them? 

Our words are the very root of their self-belief. Have you ever been spoken to harshly by someone - even a stranger - and felt the impact it’s made on you? Imagine how much more powerful it would be coming from a parent?

Words can change you deeply, in an instant. 

"The stark reality is that our kids will either live up to OR down to what they hear"

A few years back a friend told me about one of her early experiences of horse-riding. Her dad had come along to the practice. She felt so proud. So free and tall sitting up there on the horse - showing off her new-found skills.

That was until the moment she overheard her dad flippantly saying to the instructor “she’s not very good so just keep an eye on her”.

In that moment she became aware of the horse’s power, and believed she wasn’t able to control it. She gave up riding lessons soon after that.

It was in our conversation about the power of words that this memory was stirred and she realized that in that moment her self-belief changed. And she’d never felt safe up on a horse since. Just one throw-away comment from her dad, probably based on his own fears and concerns - not even intended for her ears.


Life is challenging. We’re juggling more and more and at the same time trying our best to be mindful of our words and actions.

I recently heard a beautiful analogy of a cup spilling over.

Imagine yourself holding a cup full full of coffee and someone bumps into you. What happens?

If you answered, “Coffee spills out” you’d be right. My next question is, “why did coffee spill out?” If your answer to this is, “because I was bumped” - you’re wrong.

The reason coffee spilled out is because coffee was in the cup. WHATEVER IS INSIDE is what will spill out. So if lemonade, tea, or any other liquid had been in that cup, that’s what would have spilled out.

The bumping simply reveals what was inside all along.

Life happens and we do get ‘bumped’. This is when we truly hear what’s dominating our thoughts. Is it resentment, anger and blame or cries for support, wisdom and growth?

How incredible. Words can encourage, build, help, heal… Sometimes it’s just a matter of declaring out loud, what it is we hope for. “I am patient.” “I think before I speak.”  Declaring our intentions sends a message to the subconscious.

The awesome thing is: our subconscious can’t tell the difference between what’s real and what’s not. So it accepts our words as the truth and starts to align itself. If we keep we repeating that, keep setting our intention - we will eventually live up to our own expectations. 

And the very same is true of our kids...

Our deepest values will come spilling from the mouths of our children. They are like mirrors - reflecting what they have adopted as their own beliefs

If the words from our mouths - the names we give them; are affirming, powerful and loving - they will start to align with it.

If we’re wanting our children to hear love, encouragement and positive self-belief, we need to start making sure that’s what is inside our own ‘cups’ so when life bumps us, the same spills out.

That is the true power of the spoken word.

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Madeline Carpenter is the founder of Market ‘Til You Make It. When she’s not serving her clients, she geeks out on board games, cider, and challenging her friends to top her awesome karaoke skills. She calls Bloomington, Minnesota home.