The power of words in guiding patients toward recovery


Just three words, a short phrase, heard from an ICU nurse that changed my friend’s well-being as she lay in an ICU bed. In fact, it is the only phrase my friend remembers from her entire hospital stay after having brain surgery to remove a tumor.

She was experiencing nausea, a sick feeling, and needing and wanting care, direction, and guidance from hospital staff. And three powerful words spoken from a nurse , were heard loudly and clearly so my friend could focus on the way she wanted to feel, fine that is.

She wanted to feel normal. She wanted to feel comfortable. She wanted to eat and drink again. She wanted to let go of the queasy feeling and experience energy and vigor again. How was she going to do this with the pangs of nausea she was experiencing lying in the ICU bed?

The remedy was words. The words guided her brain to focus her mind on what she wanted. “Tell me what to do to feel better? I want to feel better,” she asked for guidance. Those three words, “mind Over matter,” said in a gentle, compassionate way, made all the difference in relieving my friend of the discomfort. Her deliberate focus of her mind over the situation made her feel relief. She guided her thoughts and her body into a feeling of peace, tranquility and feeling better and better.

This story is such a clear illustration of how powerful our words are in guiding others toward recovery, healing, well-being and comfort.   We receive the messages into our subconscious and conscious minds and they make all the difference in our well-being journey.

I remember a patient telling me that the doctor told her she had seven months to live. I remember another patient telling me that the doctor said after having a stroke, the recovery would encompass a year of progress and no more. That of course was before we knew how flexible and amazing the brain really is. Yet personal motivation is the real life force in all of this. And the journey can take people along a positive road where little bits of progress influence the comeback. This journey can also motivate us to progress to the level of what healthcare professionals have told us is possible or probable. They are the authority and they know what will happen because they have seen this before with others. They are the experts. Over and over again I hear the stories of recovery and I wonder why? Then I hear something in common with their experiences. The revelation is this: what was the person thinking, what were the messages being told to the patient, and what were they paying attention to? These are the questions we need to ask ourselves in whatever healthcare organization you work in. What messages are being conveyed?

The power of words, especially in healthcare,  when people are vulnerable and afraid, need to be deliberately kind, caring and comforting. Our remedy needs to be more than the procedures and the medicine. Our remedy needs to be in our messages too.

Our messages can bring hope and comfort or they can bring fear and pain. We can convey the same information in two different ways and convey two entirely different messages.

Are you messages conveying hope or fear? Words are powerful. I believe we need to intentionally use the positive, comforting, compassionate, words to guide people in the way they want to feel. This is one story of how one nurse’s words made a positive impact on the patient’s recovery.

Spreading positive messages will result in positive results even for those needing comfort from pain.

Joyce Hyam is a nurse and speaker who teaches positive mindset and communication strategies to promote well-being in healthcare.  She can be reached at Law of Attraction Trainers.


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