To help introduce this session on the power of our words, point out that, according to a July 2012 article in Psychology Today, an MRI can actually show the impact negative words have on a person’s brain. Brain scans show the release of stress-producing hormones and neurotransmitters in test subjects when the word “no” was flashed on a screen for one second. Normal brain functions, such as logic, reason, language processing, and communication are all impacted simply by negative language.
After sharing this insight, ask some of the following questions:
- We’ve grown up hearing the nursery rhyme, “Sticks and stones can break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” This story suggests this isn’t true. How much of an impact do you think persistent criticism or negativity can have on a person?
- Would you expect there to be any data on the impact positive words have on the brain?
Allow for responses. You may choose to give the answer here, or you may choose to save it for the end of today’s session. But note that the article goes on to say that positive words and thoughts “propel the motivational centers of the brain into action, and help us build resilience when we are faced with life’s problems.”
Emphasize that this is NOT a session on “the power of positive thinking.” However, we need to recognize, just as James did in this session’s focal passage, that our words have great power, both for good and for bad.
We want to hear from you! How will you explore the topic “The Pressure of Words” with your group?