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You Are What You Speak—the Power of the Language We Choose

By Mormon.org
A young man and two young women walking and talking.

The Power of Words

The following lyrics in the song “Brave” by Sara Bareilles point to the power of words: “You can be amazing. You can turn a phrase into a weapon or a drug.” and “Nothing’s gonna hurt you the way that words do when they settle ‘neath your skin.” Have you ever witnessed a moment when words had the effect of being a weapon or a drug? What about a healing balm or a lifeline? Words are powerful. A quote by Nathaniel Hawthorne says it well: “Words—so innocent and powerless as they are, as standing in a dictionary, how potent for good and evil they become in the hands of one who knows how to combine them.”

Take a moment to think back on your life. Can you remember specific moments when you received words of praise or when you were called a name? Can you remember a time that you felt inspired or were persuaded to change your mind because of spoken or written words? We’ve all had moments when mere words affected us in profound ways—and sometimes even changed the course of our lives.

The Potential of Words

The following quote is well known:

“Watch your thoughts; they become words.
Watch your words; they become actions.
Watch your actions; they become habit.
Watch your habits; they become character.
Watch your character; it becomes your destiny.”
—Lao Tzu

Words are the first manifestations of our thoughts. They reflect our beliefs, emotions, and the state of our spirit. They are an indicator of our self-talk—what we say to ourselves. Much can be discerned about us by the language we send out into the world.

The effects of the words we say is not limited to our outer world. In Proverbs 23:7 it says, “For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he.” We become the product of our internal dialogue. So remember to say nice things to yourself too.

To Build Up or Tear Down

Words can be building blocks or a wrecking ball. The choice is yours.

Elder Jeffrey R. Holland gave a remarkable address about the power of language entitled “The Tongue of Angels.” It provides valuable insight on the power of words. In it, he shares the following quote from the Apocrypha: “The stroke of the whip maketh marks in the flesh: but the stroke of the tongue breaketh the bones.” He also suggests that “our words, like our deeds, should be filled with faith and hope and charity.”

There’s much we can say to strengthen ourselves and others simply by being thoughtful about the things we choose to say. Elder Holland explained, “With such words, spoken under the influence of the Spirit, tears can be dried, hearts can be healed, lives can be elevated, hope can return, confidence can prevail.”

No Cussing Club

In 2007 a middle schooler, McKay Hatch from Southern California, became so bothered by the bad language of his friends and peers that he started a “No Cussing Club.” In spite of some frightening challenges, he is still committed to using and promoting clean language. Watch his video below:

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Speaking of the power of language, the Savior taught, “Not that which goeth into the mouth defileth a man; but that which cometh out of the mouth, this defileth a man” (Matthew 15:11). Start using the power of your words today to uplift yourself and others.

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