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The Power of Language

Language is powerful.  We use language to form our thoughts. These thoughts influence us—our choices, our health and how we perceive the world. The recognition of the power of thought has been around for centuries. The most famous example of this is 17th century philosopher, Rene Descartes who posited, “I think, therefore I am.”

When I write this blog, I am aware of the power of words. When I describe a person as someone living with HCV, it may conjure up a different image than that of an HCV patient. The term healthcare consumer seems more powerful than the word patient does.

Professionally, the word patient has powerful connotations.  When working with patients, I serve them. Patients have the power to hire or fire me. However, when I am the patient, I have come to associate the word patient as a vulnerable and passive condition.

Troubled by my ambiguity, I looked up the word patient. The word patient comes from the Latin word “to endure pain or suffering.” According to Wikipedia, patient and patience share the same origin. Wikipedia gives this further definition: enduring trying circumstances with even temper.

This image is powerful. The notion of enduring difficulties while maintaining an even-temper seems like a lofty goal. Perhaps it is enough to endure, regardless of temperament. However, to endure with minimal anxiety or even with grace is very attractive to me. It makes being a patient a noble condition.

What do you say to yourself? What messages do you send to your body, mind, and spirit? Do not be afraid to look at yourself, to find your truth and name it. Perhaps these may deepen the discoveries about ourselves, enabling us to live in health rather than in disease.

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