Words Matter

Words create our world.

This phrase has been bouncing around my head since I heard it from a colleague last week. It’s no secret that how you talk to yourself matters. When you speak kindly to yourself, you’re less stressed, more creative and more resilient.

What about how you talk about yourself? What about the words you use with others? What about the words we see all around us?

Think about using the phrase “I am” when you’re talking about yourself. What do you put after that?
I am stressed.
I am busy.
I am overwhelmed.

“I am” signals identity. These words are literally telling your brain that your identity is stress or busy or overwhelmed.

Try this instead: “I notice I’m feeling…”
I notice I’m feeling stressed.
I notice I’m feeling like my schedule is busy.
I notice I’m feeling overwhelmed.

See how that simple switch creates some distance between you and the feeling? It’s no longer an identity; it’s a part of an experience. Your identity is so much bigger than any one feeling, When you change your words from “I am” to “I notice I’m feeling” you put yourself in a much more powerful position. It’s pretty daunting to think about shifting an entire identity or way of being, but it’s much more manageable to shift one feeling.

Think about the words you use with others. Are your words generative or punitive? When you’re giving feedback, are you focused on everything the person did wrong or are you using your words to show them the possibilities they can create for the future?

Consider the words you see in the media. President Biden’s recent Tweet from March 19th: “Words have consequences. It’s called the Coronavirus. Full stop.”

Even if you don’t believe that words create our world, they most certainly contribute to it. Let’s use our words to create a kinder world – for ourselves and everyone around us.

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