Choosing Words Wisely

Anyone who has ever been on the receiving end of repeated verbal abuse, foul language and demeaning behaviour knows that words have a tremendous power and can affect one’s mental and physical wellbeing. Words can serve to destroy a person’s self-esteem and peace of mind, and eventually even their health. However, positive, uplifting words can have the reverse effect, raising the recipient’s mood, energy level, self-confidence and overall happiness. Words carry their own frequency, and when spoken or written, the intentions and emotional charge given to them by the speaker/writer determine that frequency and enable them to affect physical reality. This is not idle speculation or a personal observation of mine – it has been shown to be true in multiple experiments carried out in numerous countries over many decades.

One of the earliest such experiments was done in Japan, where a researcher by the name of Masaru Emoto took three different containers and filled each with an equal amount of cooked white rice[1]. He labelled one container ‘Thank You’ and another ‘You’re an Idiot’, while leaving the third one blank. Every day over a period of a month he spoke to each container according to its label. To the ‘Thank You’ jar, he only spoke positive and affirming words, such as ‘You are special, you are loved, you can accomplish anything you want’. 

To the ‘You’re an Idiot’ jar, he spoke only harsh, critical and negative words, including ‘You are stupid, you are useless, you’ll never amount to anything’. To the jar without a label, he said nothing at all.

At the end of the 30 days, the rice in the container labelled ‘Thank You’ had begun to ferment and release a pleasant smell, while the rice labelled ‘You’re an Idiot’ had become discoloured, emitting a sour smell. Interestingly, the rice that had been completely ignored and neglected had begun to rot.

Debunkers were quick to cast aspersions on Emoto’s competence — labelling him a pseudoscientist — and to decry his work, but the fact remains that numerous scientists, universities and students have successfully replicated his experiment, finding broadly similar results[2]. Some experimenters found that the ‘ignored’ rice fared the worst, while others found that the verbally abused rice had the worst outcome, but virtually all of them found that the rice that had received positive words, labels and thoughts did the best.

Emoto went on to perform other experiments to observe the physical effect of words, prayers and music on the crystalline structure of water. He exposed water to different variables and subsequently froze it so that crystalline structures formed. In one series of experiments, he taped different words — both positive and negative — on containers filled with water. The water container stamped with positive words produced more symmetrical and aesthetically pleasing crystals than the water in containers stamped with dark, negative phrases.

Whether people want to believe it or not, words matter. Positive words with good intentions behind themnurture and encourage growth, while negative words with negative emotions literally corrupt and destroy. Even the Bible states that words have the power of life and death, and that we manifest what we say.[3]

What is perhaps most interesting about these experiments is that ignoring or being completely indifferent towards somebody can be just as destructive and harmful — if not more so — than being abusive or disparaging. Given that we are social animals and have an inherent need for love, human company and social interaction, this finding is not so surprising. We all know how negatively impactful it can be on our state of mind and overall mental health when we are lonely or are consistently ignored and made to feel irrelevant.

Plants are affected too

Studies on the effects of words and sounds on living organisms have included experiments on plants. Researchers in the United States and South Korea have found that plants grow faster and healthier and have better drought resistance when certain types of music are played to them, such as classical music, whereas other types of music/sound have a detrimental effect[4]. But it’s not just music that can impact a plant’s growth. A very interesting experiment was conducted by the DIY furniture giant IKEA to show what can happen to a plant that has been relentlessly exposed to negative comments and thoughts.[5] The purpose of the experiment was to show how devastating bullying can be.

In the 2018 experiment (called Bully A Plant), IKEA set up two identical plants at a school in the United Arab Emirates, and for 30 days invited students to compliment one plant while expressing critical and demeaning words to the other.

Although it wasn’t the most scientific of experiments — the company admitted as much — the plants were kept under identical controlled environments, and each received the same amount of light, nutrition and water.

The students’ comments were fed through speakers attached to each enclosure. They were encouraged to record their words of praise as well as their insults, and a recording device then transmitted the messages to each plant.

After 30 days, the plant that had received compliments was healthy and thriving, while its insult-riddled counterpart was wilted and noticeably droopy.

Although this was primarily an awareness initiative on the part of the Swedish retailer, the results do nonetheless add to the growing body of evidence that words — specifically the intentions and thoughts behind them — do affect all living creatures and plants.

We should all therefore make a conscious effort to direct positive words towards not just children — who need it the most — but also each other, and to refrain from subjecting anyone (or indeed anything) to verbal negativity, disparagement and belittling. Reducing the amount of negative energy in the world will undoubtedly improve the wellbeing of everyone.






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