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  • Are Your Words Helpful or Harmful?

    Are Your Words Helpful or Harmful?

    As a nurse, it was suggested after I graduated from my first four years of nursing school, that I read Florence Nightingale’s original writings. I was not required as a student to read her writings. The language of nursing was first revealed by Florence Nightingale (1859) in her book “Notes on Nursing” when she stated that, “words are great tools.”

    Unfortunately, as some healthcare practitioners speak with to their patients, they do not recognize how the use of their words builds trust. Words produce perceptions and those perceptions are truth to the patient. Research has demonstrated how changing thinking changes the brain, which in turn changes a behavior or a physiological response. Words have the capability to alter pain and affect adequate healing. Our brains react similarly to both negative and positive suggestions. Every word generates a physiological or biochemical response, as you may have noticed when someone’s face blushes from embarrassment or when we awaken in a cold sweat as a reaction to a nightmare.

    Basically, negative language produces negative perceptions and negative emotional and/or physical responses. In the words of Mark Twain, “The difference between the right word and the almost right word is the difference between lightning and the lightning bug.”

    Words can create mental images, modify behaviors, and alter symptoms or sensations. The subconscious mind does not think or reason; it only reacts to thoughts created by the words we speak and hear.

    In December of last year, I went for lab work and the phlebotomist stated, “Sit down and roll up your sleeve. Has anyone told you that you are a tough stick?” She continued on, “I am going to try not to hurt you.” What do you think her words made me think? She could have said instead: “Relax, this won’t take long.”

    Over time we’ve all been subtly hypnotized to accept certain trigger words. Just reading the above words spoken by the phlebotomist may have triggered a response from you.

    As a hypnotist I have found that certain words have  caused and worsened pain, increased heart rate and respirations, tensed muscles, initiated contractions, instigated sweating, elevated blood pressure, worsened allergic responses, increased bleeding, and exacerbated a bout of asthma, I have observed the effects of specific words on the inflammatory and immune systems. I assist my patients to decrease or eliminate these negative symptoms.

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