How Can Simple Things You Say Affect Your Life



How can simple things you say affect your life in such complicated ways?  More often than not, it is the small things that can cause the biggest ripples in your life.  Today we will take a look at how important it is to be mindful of how you speak.

My Aha Moment

I just met him and I already forget his name…

For the longest time in my life I struggled to remember peoples names when I first met them and I wasn’t alone.  More often than not when meeting people we would discuss how we were so bad at remembering names.  A few minutes later I would almost always find myself wondering what that person’s name was that I just spoke with.

Then it happened, I came across a book that told me to stop saying that I was bad at remembering names and to replace that phrase with something akin to, “I was working on it.”  At first I was very doubtful about this, but before long I had an opportunity to test it out.

It was amazing that later that night I could still remember every person’s name!

My daughter was invited to a birthday party by one of her grade school classmates one Saturday afternoon.  It was just her and I attending and I didn’t know a single person there at all.  As the party went I began to meet people and with each one I told them I was working on remembering names better and by golly it worked!  Later that night I was still able to rattle off the names of over a dozen people I had met that day.

This whole situation really got me to thinking about how the things I say can really affect my life.  All this time I was literally telling myself that I was going to forget people’s names and I did.  When I started telling my self that I was getting better at remembering then I did!  Such a simple little concept, yet it had such complex ramifications.

Taking it a Step Further

Instead of praising the results, we switched to praising the hard work and efforts.

Now that I had a basic understanding of this concept I started to see how else I could apply it in my life.  I decided that I would start being mindful of how I was talking to my kids as the next step in this growth process I was going through.

I realized pretty quickly that both my wife and I were saying things that were not helping our kids out as much as we thought.  The biggest thing that I found was that when we paid them a compliment such as, “you’re smart” or “great job” that we were only rewarding them for the end result and not the effort that they put into it. Wait though… isn’t that a good things to say to them?

Instead of just rewarding an end product, which could lead to doing things quickly just to get the end praise, my wife and I started praising the kids for the efforts that they had put into whatever it was.  We would tell them that we were impressed with how hard they had worked on the project or that we were proud of their efforts.

Now I think you can see that by praising hard work and their efforts, my kids learned to do the work and put in the effort.  Compare that to them rushing to get to the end so that they can get the end praise again.  See the difference?

Another Angle on the Same Perspective

Don’t cry over spilt milk! My family learned a valuable lesson instead!

Most of us have had a moment where it seemed that life was moving in slow motion through an incident.  Almost as if you were seeing things with total clarity for what was happening.  I had one of those moments when my family was sitting down for dinner once.

My youngest, Alex, had a bad habit of drinking some of his milk and then letting it sit right on the edge of the table versus setting it back down behind his plate.  One night in frustration my wife said to him, “you’re going to spill your milk, now please move it to where it should be.”

This was that moment where time slowed down for me and I could see clearly what was about to happen.  My son looked at his cup of milk and as he reached for it, he knocked it over spilling it.  I had heard what was said by my wife and knew the results before they had even happened.

Just as in the first example with remembering names, when my wife told my son he was going to spill his milk he did.  While he did not intentionally spill it, he did exactly what his mother told him he would do.  We talked about it right away and discussed ways that she could have phrased it better to avoid the unwanted result of spilled milk.

Share Your Thoughts and Experiences

Still have questions? Ask them in the comment section!
Still have questions? Ask them in the comment section!

I hope that I have been able to convey my message to you here today, however if I haven’t please leave a comment below with your thoughts and or questions and I will work with you to get them clarified.

Also, we would love to hear your stories with how just changing a few words made a difference in your life.  Please leave your stories below as yet another example to help those that pass by here.

James W D

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12 Replies to “How Can Simple Things You Say Affect Your Life”

  1. I loved this article. I have two very busy toddlers and I feel like I’m saying the wrong things lately because they just don’t listen. Maybe because they are two and three, but your article has made me think… perhaps I need to re-evaluate my choices of words. It could be that I need to be more direct or intentional or something.
    Here’s a situational question for you… my husband and I are always and forever saying to our super squirmy/daredevil kids “watch out/be careful… you’re going to hurt yourself/fall/bang your head” etc etc and THEN THEY DO IT. And then we fall into the “see, I told you so” trap. Any suggestions for different phrasing that might work better?

    • Marlaine, I certainly understand how it is to have two young ones close together and the mayhem that can bring with it. My youngest two are three years apart, but are pretty close to each other.

      When talking to your kids I think it is okay to say things like be careful or watch out, but stop there. When you tell them they are going to do something negative, well you saw the results.

      The best thing to do is to talk to them in ways that rewards their efforts. Such as you worked really hard on that or look at all the good work you did here. Basically you want to praise the good behaviors that will get them the results they need in life.

      A good book I had read before and just recently reread so I could review here is The Talent Code. This really helped me with the phrasing of words when it came to raising my kids and I have certainly seen a difference.

      Also, I would recommend checking out my other article 3 Tips of Positive Reinforcement for Children. There is also a link to the Talent Code there if you are interested in it.

  2. Hi,
    Just a short story that I would love to share. I was still in my high school final year when I believed that I have improved dramatically in my preliminary examinations. We were then grouped based on our results, with group A being the better ones, and there were a total of 3 groups. I could still remembered that based on my grades, I was supposed to go to Group A but my teacher was not confident of my ability and told me straight that I should go to group B instead. That really affected me in terms of my morale. Even though, it is just some small issues, I just keep telling myself I am not smart enough. For my final examination, I did not do as well as I wanted.

    After taking a few years break, I decided to take on this exam again. With renewed energy and confidence, I told myself I can do it. At the end, I passed the exam and managed to get into my favourite university. Self motivation really works and it is a very powerful technique!
    Best wishes

    • Jacob first off thank you for sharing your personal story and the perspective along with it. I have seen something similar with my oldest son when he was in school and something teacher said to him. The teacher used one inappropriate word towards him and to this day I believe that still has a negative effect on him. Up until that moment he was a great student, but after that he never fully applied himself again.

      We have talked about it in more recent times though and he is making progress to let it go, but it just goes to show how powerful our words are. This is why it is so important that we THINK before we speak.

      Congratulations though on overcoming everything and going back, passing the exam and getting into the university that you wanted to.

  3. I absolutely believe in the power of our words! In addition to your thoughts on positive words, I think being appreciative is really important as well. At least thats what happened to me.
    Couple years ago, I went through many challenges in my marriage, career and life in general. I complained, criticized and victimized myself a lot. I was just unhappy and grumpy woman who no one wanted to be around 🙁 (I am so grateful for my husband who has been so patient and loving even with all my garbage)
    Slowly I learned that my own negative words and thoughts are the root cause of all my struggles, not anyone else or the situations that I blamed. I started to take baby steps, saying “thank you” for small things and appreciating what I have. It really changed my life and relationship with my husband in a positive way.
    Saying positive words and being appreciative even in the difficult times really brings the light into our lives. I wish more people will become aware of this and be careful of what they say. This society will be a much better place if each one of us guards our tongue.
    Thank you for bringing this into a discussion. It reminded me an important lesson!

    • Young, I can relate to your story all too well as it almost sounds like your are describing my wife & I’s life. Her anxiety reared its head over the last year or so and caused a lot of problems for us, but we have worked hard to overcome them. It has been a struggle for the both of us as I had to work on not getting angry, especially when she was so sensitive to it. While I would not want to go through it all again, it has been a powerful learning tool in both of our lives and I know that once we both conquer these issues that we will be much stronger people in an even stronger relationship.

      I have worked with her to be more thankful for the little things in life and to stop putting focus on things that she doesn’t want in her life. I also learned that I could not get her to that point by preaching it to her, rather I had to live by example for her and that has been a tremendous help.

      Thank you again for sharing your story with us as it is very powerful and one that many of us can relate too.

  4. I understand just what you mean. My faith allows me to believe in something very similar. Ever heard of the saying “to speak things into existence”? The Bible teaches us to “call those things that do not exist as though they did”.

    Have you ever heard someone say something like, “oh my goodness, I’m going to fail my exam” and then someone will say to them, “don’t speak that into existence”? So, instead the person should say, “I know I’m going to pass my exam today.” They are speaking something into existence.

    I get what you are saying — instead of our words being on the negative side, we need to speak more in a positive manner. That way we can speak something into existence.

    Thanks for the reminder. It’s always better to speak on a positive note.


    • Verna, yes I have heard that phrase and many others with the same meaning. Many people today are becoming more and more familiar with the Law of Attraction and it is because it works on the same principal. I will be doing some posts on that in the future so be sure to check back.

      If more of us started speaking positively it would make a huge impact on the world. That is in part why I wrote this post, as yet another way of contributing to making the world a better place and helping us to evolve into a more positive race.

      Thanks for stopping by and I hope to see you back.

  5. This is a great reminder for me to be careful of thoughts and words. I always can use reminders to be positive.

    I love your shell as the cover for your website. Your website as a whole looks very professional. You write very fluidly and keep things moving along fast enough to keep the readers interest.

    Well done,

    • Reminders are a great way to be mindful and can definitely help you to progress on your life’s journey. I am glad that I was able to be a sign post along that road for you.

      Thank you for the compliments on the site, I really appreciate that.

  6. Small details matter, no? I mean, relating to the early context where you mentioned ‘small things cause biggest ripples in life’.

    About the example you gave on remembering names, I too am very bad in recalling the names of people I just met.

    I guess the reason in this matter is that I’ve not been sociable lately and I’ve decided my 2016 resolution to be more engaged with the society.

    • I am a firm believer in that everything happens for a reason. In light of that it looks as if this post was meant for you to be seen.

      With that resolution, make sure to let yourself know that you are working on it. Be mindful of “telling” yourself that you are bad at doing things and when you catch yourself doing it, just correct yourself and state that you are working on getting better with it.

      I wish you a prosperous New Year and may you stay strong with your resolution. I know that you can do it.

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