‘Each individual is a vital part of creating, co-creating, and manifesting peace, power, and prosperity on the planet.’ Dr. Janet Smith Warfield lives her life understanding the value of our language and how we communicate with one another. This is why she created Word Sculptures, an art form used to promote positive, conscious, intentional, respectful conversation to better the world.
As we grow older, many of us forget the power of our words, both with respect to how we talk to ourselves and how we talk to others. Throughout the past year, many of us have been enduring the unpredictability and fear that came with the pandemic, economic turmoil, and civil unrest. The systems that are flawed within the world are impossible to change by any kind of top-down control mechanism. However, one individual’s positive attitude can create a ripple effect of change around them. Can you be that one person who creates that ripple effect around you?
Dr. Janet Smith Warfield is a woman who has experienced challenge after challenge. During her 22 years as a lawyer, she frequently had to protect herself and the City of Atlantic City from ignorant, narcissistic politicians. She noticed how arrogant, narcissistic politicians bully, slander, and use those they view as less than. It was during this time – among many other holistic, creative, and transformational experiences – that she discovered just how much of a change she could make in her personal life, as well as the world, through her growing understanding of the power of words.
Out of this journey, an art form emerged that Janet calls Word Sculptures. “Word Sculptures uses words in atypical ways (story, paradox, metaphor, allegory, poetry, questions, deep dialog) to shift people into experiences beyond words, transforming turmoil into inner peace. When we change our words, we change our world; our emotions change, our actions change, and our relationships change.”
Dr. Warfield’s intention is to “attract each human consciousness through deep listening, clear speaking, and conscious conversation, away from feelings of not being good enough, abuse, fear, shame, and overall planetary desecration, and shift their focus toward stepping fully into their own unique personal power—while not harming others or the planet that sustains us. Self-compassion, inner strength, courage, intentional self-love, and sharing our love with others can and will lead to deep inner, community, and planetary peace.”
“If we all understood what we humans do with words, together, we would be astonishingly powerful and effective in co-creating the dynamic, respectful, peaceful, powerful, prosperous planet we all need to survive and thrive.”
Dr. Warfield’s journey began when she had an amazing, life-transforming mystical experience—an experience she writes about in the opening chapter of her book Shift: Change Your Words, Change Your World. In a nanosecond, she experienced a sudden clarity and deep understanding. It felt as if she was living her life full out for the first time.
She was so excited that she wanted to share this understanding with others. She began talking to everyone but was met with blank stares. No one was hearing or understanding a word she was speaking.
“We have always called mystical experiences ‘ineffable.’ We cannot talk about them with any kind of accuracy. I began playing with words, discovering all the creative ways they structure our experiences, I wrote poetry, essays, and stories. Words were illusions, dancing at a masked ball. They were fingers pointing at the moon. They were not the moon. However, they could be used alchemically as powerful, transformational facilitators,” Dr. Warfield’s website explains.
Alfred Korzybski wrote, ‘The map is not the territory.’
Dr. Warfield elaborates, “The words are not the experience. The menu is not the food you eat. There is this unifying, holistic, enlightening, transformational experience that has been experienced by people all over the planet from the beginning of time. It has been named by different people in different ways: salvation, enlightenment, satori, awakening, ‘I am aware.’
As soon as anyone tries to talk about it, they are creating a conceptual map of the experience. Each map is different because the map is not the territory. The words are not the experience.”
Before Dr. Warfield created these art forms and published her books, she practiced law in Atlantic City, New Jersey. She explained to me how her experience in law helped amplify the lessons she was already learning in her personal life. According to one biography, “Janet entered law school to study some of our human-created methods for using words as clearly and helpfully as possible. She graduated from Rutgers School of Law, cum laude, and practiced law in Atlantic City, New Jersey, for 22 years. As lawyer, mediator, poet, author, wife, mother, and grandmother, she has become a powerful ‘word sculptress’ who has learned how to use words to shift listeners into experiences beyond words, transforming turmoil into inner peace.”
I wanted to know more about how Dr. Warfield’s experience as a lawyer shaped the individual she is today. She explained to me how being around so many individuals who just sit and accept things as they are, because that’s the way they’ve always been, taught her a lot about the power of independent thinking and staying in integrity with your values and who you are.
“A lot of my challenges have been with narcissistic individuals who think they know everything based on the tiny box they’ve grown up in. I was never like that, I was always interested in exploring the world, meeting new people, and experiencing the many different ways we as humans survive and thrive.”
Dr. Warfield then told me a story about one of her experiences with a narcissistic Atlantic City Councilman. The trauma and chaos this man created was acute. She had to figure out how to overcome her terror and transform her rage into effective action to stop his dysfunctional conduct.
“I had been the contract attorney for the City’s tax sale foreclosures for years. As delinquent properties were foreclosed, resold, and returned to the tax rolls, the City’s coffers increased ten-fold over what the City paid me. The new councilman (we’ll call him John) strutted around City Hall, ordered the janitor and cleaning lady to work faster, and shouted down anyone who dared to express an opinion different from his own. Rumors circulated that he had abused his wife. Some people said that he had beaten her so badly that she had been hospitalized.
As obnoxious as John was, I tried to be polite. After all, he was one of the councilmen who would vote on my contract. However, I received neither politeness nor respect in return.
‘Why do you care?’ he demanded when I suggested a change in the direction of a city street that would make traffic flow more smoothly. ‘It’s none of your business.’
During his campaign, John had asked me to place his campaign sign in the front yard of my home. I politely declined. I was a non-partisan City contractor. I would not have placed any candidate’s sign on my property.
John took my ‘no’ personally. As soon as he was elected, he began attacking both me and my contract. He proclaimed that the city was paying me far too much money. John would show the city how to cut their budget. He pulled my contract off the Council Agenda three times, asserting he needed more information. I had already supplied the information he had demanded. John refused to return my phone calls. He demanded that I appear before the Council to defend myself.
I was terrified. I knew how ugly this man could be and how he hated women. Women attorneys were worse. I felt like an innocent victim being punished for a crime I had not committed. Would I lose a contract that was a major source of income? Would I have to let my wonderful paralegals go because I could no longer pay their salaries? Would I lose my own home to foreclosure because I could no longer pay my mortgage?
I had a son to support and my own bills to pay. Moreover, I was doing an excellent job in an area of law where few attorneys had my expertise. It was an area of law that John did not understand, nor did he understand the financial ramifications of his actions for the city. However, his ignorance and arrogance had become an unpleasant factor in my life.
Sleepless night after sleepless night, I tossed and turned. What would John do and say at the Council meeting? Would I appear incompetent? Would I make a fool of myself? Would the other Councilmen agree with John? What defenses could I make? How should I prepare? I trembled as my ‘what ifs’ continued to torment me. Fortunately, I had participated for several years in Nar-Anon, a support group for families and friends of addicts. The more I thought about John, the more I realized his behavior was addictive – bullying, lying, belligerent, angry, manipulative. Nar-Anon had taught me I couldn’t fix the addict. I could only fix myself. I needed the help of a Power greater than myself. I had been taught to ‘Let go and let God.’
I didn’t much like that word ‘God.’ It always made me think of an old man with a long white beard, sitting on a thundercloud with a lightning bolt in his hand, waiting to strike me dead if I didn’t do some unclear thing he wanted me to do. I had always considered myself an intellectual agnostic. I liked the words ‘Power greater than myself’ better than the word ‘God.’ One morning, still trembling in terror, I sat myself down on my living room sofa, consciously brought my mind back to the present moment, and repeated over and over, “Let go and let God.”
Suddenly, my trembling stopped. Here I was, safe and sound in my living room. I could manage this present moment. I suddenly knew that I could manage every ‘future present moment,’ one moment at a time. All I had to do was prepare thoroughly, ‘let go,’ and let ‘a Power greater than myself’ guide my steps.
On the day of the Council meeting, I sat in the front row with a big, fat file on my lap, glaring at John. He refused to look at me, his face muscles taut and his hands shaking. While he made a few half-hearted attempts at blustery remarks, the verbal gusts soon petered out as other councilmen jumped to my defense. John muttered under his breath, then reluctantly stopped talking altogether.
When the vote was taken, my contract was unanimously renewed. Even John voted for it.”
“As I stepped outside my cultural conditioning and began questioning the parts of my life that weren’t working, I began asking myself ‘who am I separate and apart from this cultural conditioning and my relationships with other people?’ More and more, I realized that I am always in choice, free to decide in each moment how I want to live my life.”
Janet has experienced many transformative and mystical moments throughout her life that have unexpectedly shifted her path. She passionately explained to me how at this point in her life, her heart lies in the ability to open people’s minds to new ways of thinking so they can fully experience how powerful they are and how they can bring inner peace and personal (em)power(ment) to themselves, as well as to those whose lives they touch.
“As a child in Sunday School, I had been taught words from the Bible, ‘resist not evil but turn the other cheek.’ Those words had made no sense. Why in the world, if someone hit me on my cheek, would I turn my face to the other side and say, ‘hit me again’? However, as I grew older and began changing my conduct, the dynamics in all my relationships changed as well, for the better.
One day, an angry neighbor came to my door and began yelling at me. Instead of yelling back, I simply said, ‘I’m so sorry this is happening, what can I do to make it better.’ By the end of our conversation, we were friends. At that moment I thought about that line from the Bible and realized it wasn’t about ignoring someone/thing when they do you wrong, but instead, it was about changing my conduct to create a positive outcome for everyone. That’s a great example of what Word Sculptures and Planetary Peace, Power, and Prosperity are all about.”
I wanted to know more about how Dr. Warfield uses these techniques to help others change the way they communicate with themselves and each other, specifically regarding her relationship with creative writing and linguistics.
“I’m fascinated with finding relationships and connections between people and words that seem like opposites When you go beneath the surface appearances to the underlying experiences, you often discover that people are looking at a life experience from different perspectives and therefore have different experiences of it, or they have the same experience as you, but words they use to talk about it are different. When we talk about our truths, it is so helpful to tell the underlying stories that shape our life experiences, because that’s how we connect with another. The vulnerability and transparency of that honesty can be life changing.
“Whenever someone wants to learn more about Planetary, Peace, Power, and Prosperity, we simply invite them into our community and gatherings and allow them to learn whatever they need to learn and give whatever they are able to give. They simply become part of a giving and receiving flow.
“We want to hear their story, listen to their thoughts, and share our own. It’s that simple. It’s about connecting with self, with others, and our outside world, through a state of deep listening and clear, respectful speaking. More times than not we all have the answers to our life challenges within us, but negative, critical, judgmental words block out simple solutions. We don’t ask questions like ‘who made you feel like this’? We ask, ‘What are you feeling? What happened?’ Then we listen. Or perhaps we observe, ‘That must have really hurt.’”
Diving into emotional depths and shining the light of transparency on them is a crucial part of Dr. Warfield’s work. She doesn’t aim to help an individual get through one specific hardship in life but instead offers them linguistic tools to help them step into their full potential as living, breathing, creative, and co-creative human beings. Often, they then begin to view their life challenges as personal growth opportunities.
- What do I think?
- What do I feel?
- What do I need?
- What are my choices?
- What do I need to know?
- Whom can I trust?
“Change your words, change your world. None of us knows how much time we’ve been given. When you know you always have choices, you have the creative and co-creative power to find a solution.”
“I discuss some of these concepts in my books, as well as on the Planetary Peace, Power and Prosperity TV Show. We can always find the connections and solutions when we really look for them. We were all born on this earth. We’re all human. However, conceptualizing those connections can often be daunting.
“Once we understand that words map our experiences, we can use our words as maps to make sense of life and its many challenges. In addition, we can learn to use them as energetic art forms that change from moment to moment like a kaleidoscope of beautiful colors, shifting pain into sudden clarity, understanding, and compassion. This is what religion and other spiritual practices do. When used wisely and compassionately the words become fingers pointing at the moon, offering wonderful guidelines for shifting human suffering into internal peace, personal empowerment, and personal prosperity.
“Words are placeholders for experiences that are far too complex for our minds to fully understand and conceptualize. Yet, the passion behind the words that we express when talking about our spirituality is real. These words create a sense of understanding and comfort among the things in life we can’t logically comprehend.
“With emotions like terror and fear, start watching your mind. Most likely, your mind is focused in one of two places. It is either focused on the future (What if this happens? What if that happens?) Or it may be focused on what somebody else might think, say, or do if you stand firm in your authenticity and integrity and say, ‘No. I won’t do what you are telling me I must do.’ Once you notice where your mind is focused, you are in choice. You can leave it right where it is and continue to feel the fear. Or you can choose to refocus your mind back to the present moment, and ask yourself, “’What can I do, right here, right now, to move my life in the direction I want it to go?’
“When your mind is focused on the future or on what somebody else may think, say, or do, you are giving your present-moment power away. When you bring your mind back to the present moment, you are taking your power back.”
Dr. Warfield then began to explain to me some of the things she tells people when it comes to “unlearning” some of the ways we comprehend language. She explained how, on both her website and in her books, she emphasizes simple grammar practices that we’ve all known about since grade school.
“I use a lot of metaphors when I’m talking to people who want to shift their ways of thinking. Poetry and creative writing are at the heart of what I do, hence the creation of Word Sculptures, the TV Show, and my books. Growing up you learn words for things you see every day and just accept that that’s what they are. That same type of inherited accepted knowledge about the things we see in our everyday lives often impacts the way we view and treat ourselves. As we grow older, we begin to accept certain ‘negatives’ in our lives as normal, such as mental health issues and trauma, in the same way that we accept a tree is called a tree because that’s what we were always taught. Life is not black and white, and there’s always time to shift your understanding of the world and the way you want to use your words to shape it.”
Dr. Warfield explained that a good way to shift your understanding of your own life is through talking with others about it and listening to others’ perspectives. “During the course of conscious conversation with others, you’ll find that new ways of thinking come up, or easy solutions appear from another person’s way of thinking. The best part of that process is that it tends to occur organically through a stream-of-consciousness conversation.
“I ended up in life where I am because I learned to listen to myself and follow the paths that felt right for me. The best way to do that is to be who you are. When you fully embrace yourself, you not only live an authentic life, but you also become a model for the people around you. Your positive energy, language, and outlook on life then ripples out into the universe.
I am driven to bring ideas and people together in harmonious ways. That’s not to say that all my relationships are always harmonious. It takes two to build a harmonious relationship.
Archaic patriarchal ways of thinking still have far too much influence over the way our world functions today. The only way to change this is for each person to be not only the best they can be, but also help others reach that same potential. Together, we can choose the boundaries that support us and remove the ones that imprison us.”
Dr. Warfield concluded our interview by discussing one of the most important aspects of her book “Shift, Change Your Words, Change Your World,” – the present moment.
Changing the way you speak to yourself and others can seem like one of those things that’s easier said than done. However, so many current religious and spiritual practices are all about shifting your relationship with yourself to become the most positive it can be. It doesn’t happen overnight, but if your intentions are clear and you’re manifesting the most positive outcome for yourself and others, you’ll find that there’s nothing that can stop you from achieving clarity in your life.
When you ask yourself, ‘what can I do right here right now to move my life in the direction I want it to go’, you’re already taking your power back. That’s where the power comes from in Planetary Peace, Power, and Prosperity. That power is the key to achieving true inner peace and personal prosperity in your own life, as well as throughout our planet.”
To learn more about Dr. Janet Smith Warfield and the amazing work she does, check out her website, as well as Word Sculptures, and Planetary Peace, Power, and Prosperity for more enlightening information.
Eric Mastrota is a Contributing Editor at The National Digest based in New York. A graduate of SUNY New Paltz, he reports on world news, culture, and lifestyle. You can reach him at email@example.com.