Words have power – your own words can heal you and can really hurt you. And there is a whole range of effects between healing and hurt.
The words that have the most power over you are not someone else’s but your own words. Your words influence your thinking and through that also your perception of the world and behavior. You can choose words for better thoughts and outcomes.
In this post, learn how some typical daily words negatively affect you and how to improve your life instantly by exchanging those words and creating better thoughts as well as better understanding with others.
“All I need is a sheet of paper and something to write with, and then I can turn the world upside down.”-Friedrich Nietzsche
1. I can’t
Remember some cases when you told someone “Oh, no, I can’t do that, I will never be able to do that”. And also remember your thoughts about yourself and your capabilities, as well as the feelings and sensations that these words caused…
You probably thought of the limitations in your life and might have felt inadequate. But if you questioned that answer of yours, you might have thought of the possibilities and opportunities for you to take that decision or action.
The words for better thoughts instead of “I can’t” would be “I haven’t tried this yet” and “I am open to making this new experience”.
Notice how you feel when you apply better words to your situation. Do you feel more empowered?
When you talk about problems or even “big problems”, what are your thoughts and how do you usually feel?
Your thoughts are probably negative and you might feel heavy, exhausted, and hopeless.
The words for better thoughts: instead of Problem you could use a more neutral word challenge or issue. How does your perception change when you exchange the word problem for challenge or issue?
You might feel lighter, more energetic, and hopeful and start thinking of possibilities and solutions.
If you are asked to do something new or decide to do something new, you might talk about “trying to do it”.
If you are sitting and I will ask you to try to stand up, what will be your action?
You will probably just stand up. But it is not what I am asking for, I am asking just to try and this is not the same as performing the action itself.
Imagine, you wholeheartedly invite a friend or organize an important work meeting, and your friend or a critical stakeholder answers: “I will try to be there.” How certain are you that this person will be there for the event? Probably, you will be uncertain and confused.
So, when you use the word trying, you create much uncertainty and leave room for failing, retreating, escaping, or simply not doing it at all.
The words for better thoughts: it is much clearer for your mind if you think of specific actions and time-frames when you want to do something. Your confidence will grow and your success will be more assured.
But is a very strong word. Notice how the following statements feel to you:
“It is good for me to exercise more but I am too busy, I just do not have time for it.”
“It is good for me to eat well but it costs me too much effort/money.”
“I am doing my best but the circumstances are stronger than me.”
You might feel powerless, helpless, and out of control. The word But cancels everything that was said before it. So, if a negative statement comes after the word “but” it will cancel anything positive that was said before it.
Now, notice how it feels if you say:
“It is good for me to exercise more and though I am very busy I will plan well to make time for it.”
“It is good for me to eat well and I will invest my efforts and following arrangements will help me to make it easier…”
“I am doing my best and though the circumstances are not very easy I will persist until I get the results that I want.”
You might feel your power and that you are in control.
Also, putting a negative statement before the word But and the positive after it will neutralize the negative statement:
“This is not easy but I will make it work.”
Give yourself a few examples of personal why questions. Often these are questions like:
- Why did this happen to me?
- Why did this person say/do this to me?
- Why am I (not) so?
- Why can’t I (somebody else) simply be so-and-so?
Notice how you feel about these why questions? You probably feel stuck in the past, disappointed, and hopeless.
The words for better thoughts:
In contrast to “why”, how questions are current moment-, solution-, and action-oriented. Repeat the following questions and notice how they influence you:
- How can I resolve this issue?
- How can I improve this relationship?
- How can I become better at …? etc.
How Words Influence Thoughts and Actions
As you can see from the above examples, words are actually concepts that you are handling. By using certain words you program yourself by default to feeling a certain way. And the way you feel makes you act accordingly.
If you use the words without being aware of their influence on you, and you repeat them again and again, you may get disappointed by the outcomes you create.
Power of Words and Thoughts
By exchanging the words for more positive and powerful ones, you exchange the concepts you use and therefore the effect of the thoughts on you. Changes in thoughts can completely change your perception of circumstances and events in your life. This can help you feel better, lighter, more positive and optimistic, and more capable.
“If we understood the power of our thoughts, we would guard them more closely. If we understood the awesome power of our words, we would prefer silence to almost anything negative. In our thoughts and words, we create our own weaknesses and our own strengths. Our limitations and joys begin in our hearts. We can always replace negative with positive.”-Betty Eadie
Creating awareness about how a few words can influence your mindset is just a small part of what I am working on with my clients. Discover how transformational hypnotherapy and coaching can help you change your mindset fast and efficiently by addressing the root cause of the issues in a free call with me:
Words for Better Understanding
Also using better words in communication with others can improve the outcomes of this communication – strengthen your relationships and create better results in your career.
And this is especially true in communication with your children. Be mindful not to say to your child “You can’t do this (you are too small).” or ask “Why did you do this (a bad thing)?”
“Be mindful when it comes to your words. A string of some that don’t mean much to you, may stick with someone else for a lifetime.”-Rachel Wolchin
Or for example, if you hear at work, in your project:
“But this is not possible. But this isn’t gonna work. Why should we deal with this at all? This is not our problem.”
– simply ask: “So, how can we make it happen? How can we approach the challenges, address the issues and make the project work?”
Q&A: Words for Better Thoughts
Does your personality change with language?
According to the definition by the American Psychological Association and multiple other sources, personality refers to individual differences in characteristic patterns of thinking, feeling, and behaving.
Higher awareness and changes in your language can cause changes in thinking, feeling, and behaving. Thus, by changing your language you will change the personality corresponding to the psychological definition.
At the same time, the self, the essence of who you are remains unaffected.
Changing your language is one of the important tools to becoming a better version of yourself.
Conclusions: Words for Better Thoughts
Words have a powerful influence over your mental state and even actions.
By raising your awareness about the words you use, you can improve your mental state, choose better actions, and create desired results.
This you can do by avoiding using certain words and exchanging them:
- I can instead of I can’t
- Challenge or issue instead of a problem,
- Doing instead of trying,
- And instead of but
- Asking how instead of asking why.
- Trick, L., Watkins, E., Windeatt, S., & Dickens, C. (2016). The association of perseverative negative thinking with depression, anxiety and emotional distress in people with long term conditions: A systematic review. Journal of Psychosomatic Research, 91, 89-101. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jpsychores.2016.11.004
- Tod, D., Hardy, J., & Oliver, E. (2011). Effects of Self-Talk: A Systematic Review, Journal of Sport and Exercise Psychology, 33(5), 666-687. Retrieved Sep 13, 2022, from https://journals.humankinetics.com/view/journals/jsep/33/5/article-p666.xml
- D. Greenberger, C.A. Padesky, Mind Over Mood: Change How You Feel by Changing the Way You Think. ISBN13: 9780898621280