“What are words for? When no one listens, what are words for?” So hiccupped Dale Bozzio in 1980 as I stood watching her and my friend Terry Bozzio in their rehearsal studio on Robertson Boulevard in Beverly Hills. They had just formed a band named Missing Persons and Terry invited me to produce their first studio recordings.

Decades before Gaga and years before Madonna, Dale Bozzio was onstage wearing clear plastic “C-cups” with outré costumes and hair. Her taut, tight little body was the lure but the meat in the music was the virtuoso drumming and guitar playing backing thoughtful lyrics carved by drummer-husband Terry.

After a song or two that night, I made a fateful comment. “I love you and Dale, Terry,” I said. “And you are one of the best musicians in the world. But, Terry, Dale isn’t a singer. She can’t sing.” I turned down the gig.

I was right, of course. But how wrong I was. I had forgotten what Omaha native and big-time record exec Stevie Alaimo had told me just three years before. “There are three things that make a hit record,” Alaimo jibed. “The song, the song… and the song.” And “Words” was a great song. That, plus the fact that Dale was sexy and hot and oh-so-lickable eye-candy was going to go a long, long way when MTV launched the music video network in August of 1981. Missing Persons had a string of hits.

“Say what you mean, …one thing leads to another.” As Dale Bozzio warbled implausibly, words aren’t good for much in themselves. They are but symbols of what really matters: thought. And we have become too sloppy with our words, let alone, our thoughts.

In the parlance of self-help gurus, New Age self-actualization programs, neuro-linguistic programming schemes and positive-thinking advocates, using words to enable or manifest is often referred to as affirmation.

At differing levels of enactment, using words or phrases can be a repetitive cue to the subconscious to enlist that level of thought in creating change. On a simpler level, the everyday speaking of words and phrases also has impact on our subconscious awareness.

When we speak or write, we are putting thought into form and thought is the basic energy of creation. The words we speak have impact by reinforcing the power of the thoughts they represent. As such, being thoughtful of what words we use in everyday speaking can temper the effect we desire. Choosing our words with intent is worth the effort.

The weight of the word “I’m sick of hearing about the scandal.” “I know it’s bad for me but I love bacon.” “I’m sorry but I can’t go to your party Saturday because I have a date with this incredible guy and I don’t have time to do both.” “It’s difficult to do.” These are examples of verbal sloppiness and the thoughtless use of negative programming.

Without adopting an obsessive accounting of every single word we utter, it can still be helpful to weed out some of the more confining catchphrases we use consistently. So let’s parse our examples to see what might change.

We often say “I’m sick” but affirming sickness, either continual complaining of ailments or just the simple use of a seeming metaphor as in our example, doesn’t have to be part of one’s vernacular. Condemning bacon to “bad” in your mind, though seemingly trite, adds energy to how our body looks at eating such a food deemed detrimental.

Our third example sentence is a mother lode of sloppy speaking. Describing one’s self as “sorry”, a condition plainly perceived as pitiful, may not be the best self-talk. Options include, “forgive me,” or “my apology,” and other more positive ways to speak. More accurate for a party invitation would be “regrets.” Even with its most noble intent, that of sympathy for another, referring to one’s self as “sorry” infers the embrace of another’s pain. There are better ways of expressing sympathy than by embracing pain.

“I can’t” is possibly the single-most used malapropism in everyday speaking. It’s almost always inaccurate and untruthful. We tend to use the sentence incessantly and wrongly nearly all the time. “I can’t” almost always means “I won’t”. Remove the shackles of impotence and embrace real responsibility! At least acknowledge that yes, you can do something but you choose not to, which is most often the case. Using the verb “can’t” reinforces an untruth about yourself that erodes self-empowerment.

Be observant of using the word “because”. Inaccurately assigning cause to an outside source, strengthens a misbelief about reality. Doing that is really just another way of avoiding responsibility.

“Incredible” is misused far too often. Consider the actual meaning of the word before using it. It means unbelievable. Unbelievable is hardly an attribute I would want to assign to a new paramour.

And plain and simple, the phrase “I don’t have time” is an outright prevarication. There are 24 hours in a day. We all have the same amount.

Final example: Why use “difficult”? Why reinforce that something is hard? How about calling it “challenging” or “exciting”? One Course in Miracles teacher said that “The Course is not difficult, but it is different.” That’s a useful take.

“Say the word and you’ll be free.” The words we use can reinforce a positive outlook and therefore a positive outcome or they can negate what we really want. José Silva founded a form of meditation training in the mid-Twentieth Century. It remains popular and effective today. As with many of the so-called human potential techniques, one of the tenets of Silva training is to remain aware of negatively programming the subconscious mind. Much as we endeavor, invariably we slip and a negative concept launches. A clever remedy popular with Silva graduates is to utter the words “cancel, cancel,” the moment we hear ourselves verbally project a negative outcome. It’s a little trick designed to counteract the gaffe.

Be well.

Heartland Healing examines various alternative forms of healing. It is provided as a source of information, not as medical advice. It is not an endorsement of any particular therapy, either by the writer or The Reader. Access past columns at www.HeartlandHealing.com

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