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Are your words killing you?

Are your words killing you?
Are your words killing you?
(Photo courtesy of Diego Medrano)

Perhaps you didn't mean it literally, but have you ever caught yourself saying, "You're killing me" or "It is killing me" or "My job is killing me"? The words we say and think are effectively telling our brains how to react to people, things, and situations. The more you repeat a phrase, the more ingrained it becomes in your unconscious as a guideline of what to do.

Become aware of what you say, think, and even the songs you listen to. Words and thoughts build feelings and emotions that affect your physiology and behavior. For example, start thinking about someone you love dying, perhaps being murdered - what do you begin to feel? What do you notice about your posture? Does your breathing change? Do your muscles tense? Now think of winning an award because you are awesome. Thousands are cheering for you, happy for you. How do you feel now? Did your posture change? Notice any differences in your breathing and muscles?

The more you repeat a phrase, the more ingrained it becomes in your unconscious as a guideline of what to do.

Now imagine how this can affect you over time. Some depressions are developed through a downward spiral of depressingly negative thoughts. There are cases where people consistently said, "I wish I could forget that," and eventually ended up with Alzheimer's disease. And when you read about the people who achieved amazing successes starting with nothing, they talk about positive thoughts, making it work, persistence, determination - all positive thoughts.

So what are the words you are choosing doing for you?


Anderson, C.A., Carnagey, N.L. Eubanks, J. (2003). “Exposure to Violent Media: The effects of songs with violent lyrics on aggressive thoughts and feelings.” In Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 84. Pp. 960-970.

Kihlstrom, J.F. (1987). "The Cognitive Unconscious." In Science, Vol 237, Issue 4821.
American Association for the Advancement of Science. pp. 1445-1452.

Slovic, Paul; Melissa Finucane, Ellen Peters, Donald G. MacGregor (2002). "The Affect Heuristic". in Thomas Gilovich, Dale Griffin, Daniel Kahneman. Heuristics and Biases: The Psychology of Intuitive Judgment. Cambridge University Press. pp. 397-420.