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Personal growth: Applying the power of constructive speech February 8, 2018

Posted by Dennis Mellersh in Concept of personal growth.
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

One of the popular concepts in current self-actualization thought is that of the effectiveness of saying/writing positive affirmations to improve our well-being, a concept actually promoted much earlier in the early 1900’s but in somewhat different form.

In 1910, New Thought writer Christian D. Larson wrote:

“When you feel that trouble is coming and express that feeling in your speech, you are actually turning in your path, and are beginning to move toward that trouble…Never give expression to what you do not wish to encourage… When you have something good to say, say it. When you have something ill to say, say something else.…”

He also suggested:

“The more you talk about a thing, the more you move it along. Every word that is spoken exercises a power in personal life and that power will work either for or against the person, depending upon the nature of the word.” (1)

By complaining or being straight-out critical we do not improve the situation and can also be harming ourselves psychologically.

An undercurrent in all of this is the idea that if we are saying something, we are usually also thinking the same thing; and saying/thinking enough negative things will turn our overall outlook into a negative one and affect us at the level of our subconscious as well.

For people familiar with the concept of the Law of Attraction, this advice, like much of Larson’s work, has a familiar feel to it.

The idea of enabling positive outcomes by controlling our speech to eliminate all negativity and  focus it in only in a constructive and productive direction is one that seems worthy of doing, but it’s more difficult than we might imagine.

As someone who has a grumpy side, I am trying to do this, but it’s surprising how easily critical, non-constructive comments can roll of the tongue when we are irritated, almost from a default position.

(1) The quotations are from Christian D. Larson’s work, Your Forces and How to Use Them, an eight-page chapter which is included in an anthology of Larson’s writings titled The Optimist Creed, published by Jeremy P. Tarcher / Penguin,  New York, 2012.

— Dennis Mellersh


1. Sean - February 8, 2018

Nice post Dennis. There is a lot of power in staying focused on the positive. We all know folks who have been trained to critically address problems (a lot of docs get trained this way) that fall into the trap of seeing life as nothing but new problems to discover. That’s a brutal way to live. However, my concern is that trying to stay almost purely positive, like a lot of the Law of Attraction stuff, has its own blind spots. A lot of dynamic learning seems to come from talking about our failures, owning up to them, then moving forward. This does require a recognition of the negative before it can be shifted towards something positive. That always seemed to be a gap in the Law of Attraction stuff for me but maybe I’m missing something. Thoughts?

Dennis Mellersh - February 8, 2018

Hi Sean
Thanks for taking the time to write a thoughtful comment. I share your view that “positivism” can be taken to a counter-productive extreme if we are not careful. You are right that it’s also hard to see the positive elements in any situation if we are not aware of the negative elements. I guess the best approach is to use common sense and apply the concept of moderation. Otherwise we might end up in the mind-space of Canadian pianist Glenn Gould who once said with some self-deprecating humour “Behind every silver lining lies a cloud.” I found your blog, which looks interesting, and will be taking a more thorough look at it soon. Take care, and keep blogging…DM

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