When I wrote down the title of today’s piece, it made me giggle a little. I imagined a whole bunch of people deciding not to engage with the whole piece because they don’t like the idea of spells. Interestingly, for many Christians avoidance seems to be a good way of dealing with things they don’t like. I remember once when I was having a crisis of faith, a fellow churchmate saying to me: “Don’t question such things. If you do you will lose your faith!”
By Thembe Khumalo
It made me wonder how fragile a faith must be if it cannot withstand the questioning of its followers. And whether a system of beliefs that cannot bear to be challenged is worth defending at all. I suspect our God is much bigger and more robust than we give Him credit for. But we can discuss these matters another time.
My focus on today’s topic is more on the spelling than it is on the spell. In fact, it is on words and the power they hold. I borrowed the headline from Erykha Bhadu, the African American singer-songwriter and queen of neo-soul, who said: “Write down what you want. Watch it happen. Spelling is a spell.” She was referring, of course, to the power of words, and the importance of articulating dreams, desires and goals in order for them to become manifest. This is often done through confession, affirmation or mantras.
Whenever I hear the saying, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words could never hurt me,” I am always puzzled because words can, in fact, do much more damage than physical assault.
We hear so much about affirmations that you may by now be tempted to roll your eyes when the topic comes up. Everyone from sports coaches to pastors has cottoned on to this powerful tool and it is no wonder that it’s trending, promoted by texts such as The Secret, by Rhonda Bryne and You Can Heal Yourself by Louise Hay. We have learnt that affirmations can be used to achieve goals, improve health, increase creativity and attract abundance.
But, of course, the power of words existed and was acknowledged long before it became trendy. Napoleon Hill in his book, Think and Grow Rich, was promoting the use of affirmations in the 1930s. And to go all the way back to Biblical times, we read in Proverbs 18:21 that the power of life and death is in the tongue. How you may choose to interpret this is up to you, but what is clear to me is that it speaks of words having the capacity to create real impact in the physical realm.
When we speak about words in relation to their power to make manifest the things we long for, we refer to both written and spoken words. Here’s an interesting survey that was conducted at Harvard University, as reported by Forbes magazine.
Harvard’s graduate students were asked if they had set clear, written goals for their futures, as well as if they had made specific plans to transform their fantasies into realities. The result of the study was only 3% of the students had written goals and plans to accomplish them, 13% had goals in their minds but hadn’t written them anywhere, and 84% had no goals at all.
After 10 years, the same group of students were interviewed again and the conclusion of the study was totally astonishing: The 13% of the class who had goals, but did not write them down, earned twice the amount of the 84% who had no goals. More interestingly, in relation to our topic, the 3% who had written goals were earning, on average, 10 times as much as the other 97% of the class combined!
This really bring, the Bible verse, “Write the vision, make it clear…” (Habakuk 2:2) to life, doesn’t it?
If you are still an unbeliever, maybe this additional piece of research from University of Toronto will persuade you. University of Toronto professor Jordan Peterson asked 700 students to think about their lives, especially pivotal moments from the past that helped shape who they are. Then, they were to use these memories to help design a path toward achieving their future goals, something Peterson calls “self-authoring”.
Because these were students, a prerequisite to achieving many of their larger goals involved staying in school and completing their coursework. And in the end, the students who did the self-authoring exercise completed more course credit and were more likely to have stayed in school than the students in the control group, who had not done the writing assignment. Even more important, in other words, the achievement gap between the minority and white students narrowed. (www.thecut.com)
So it seems you can use words not only to earn more, but to bust through racial and class stereotypes.
Still unconvinced? Perhaps you should try it. It’s not really just about repeating words every day, it has to be part of a sincere internal dialogue that you have with yourself and about yourself.
You can choose a number of affirmations or even a mantra. Again, the word mantra may be associated with deep and mysterious spiritual things, and that might be frightening for you. But all it is, is a statement; a word or phrase that you repeat and internalise. Its power is not is in the Sanscrit languages from whence the word originates, nor is it in the religions with which that language is associated.
Its real power is in affirming it to ourselves what the statement is saying, and allowing its meaning to seep below the surface of our daily inner chatter, into our subconscious, helping to make choices that align with who and what we really want to become.
Thembe Khumalo is a brand builder, storyteller and certified life coach