When I was 23 or so, I worked at a Summer Drama day camp.
One of the lessons I taught the kids in my class that particular Summer was around the power of thoughts and the impact of words not only on others, but on our own self-concept and well-being. At the time, I believe there was a story from Elvis Stojko circulating about how he felt his own negative or positive self-talk had a significant effect on his performance as an athlete. I told the kids this story, then we would put the theory into action by pairing them up for an experiment to see whether Elvis (or whichever amazing athlete it was!) was onto something. 😉
Kid #1 would stand strong, planting their feet firmly into the floor, their only task being to not let themselves be moved from that spot, no matter what. When they felt they were holding steady, Kid #2 would try to push them out of position.
During the first pass of the ‘experiment,’ they were to hold a negative thought they typically had about themselves in their minds and repeat it to themselves as they attempted to stay standing. They always fought SO hard to stay grounded as Kid #2 pushed…
No matter how hard they tried, none of them managed to stand in place for long.
In the second pass, they would hold a positive thought (or the image of someone they loved who they felt believed in them) in their minds. If they imagined a loved one, I encouraged them to visualize this person cheering them on, saying positive things about them. Kid #1 would stand their ground again, holding that positive inner space, and without fail, it took herculean efforts from the second child to push them off their resolute footing.
The “Elvis Day” always left the kids deep in thought, and uncharacteristically speechless.
Whether they were in the early stages of setting their own limited, negative beliefs about themselves (or having them set for them), or entrenched in the tumultuous brain chatter of their teenage years, this particular lesson was always an “aha” moment. It suddenly became very clear to the campers that the quality, tone and intention of what we say to ourselves and to others matters more than we can even begin to understand — that negative thoughts/words are the “sticks & stones” of the emotional/mental body, and that the wounds sustained from them can be very deep, with scars and imprints that last just as long (some, even longer) than their physical counterparts.
I loved seeing a startling reminder of this concept today in the form of Danielle LaPorte‘s 25-day Good Apple/Bad Apple experiment. What happens to an apple after you praise it for 25 days? Even more shocking is what happens when you talk smack to it.
Have a look-see (and be amazed) on Danielle‘s blog here.
It might be just the proof we need to do a little Spring cleaning on our thoughts, words and intentions…