Have you ever intentionally thought about the specific words you use? Maybe not, but here’s why it matters (a lot more than you might think!).
Words make up our thoughts. And every thought you think manifests itself into how you feel and ultimately what you create in your life. Words play into that and are a powerful force you might not even be mindful of.
So if the words you use are unsupportive, harsh, negative, and downright mean, that’s how you’re going to feel and act.
I went through a phase last summer where I focused intensely on choosing my vocabulary wisely (even bought a vocabulary book), and it had a profound impact on the way I think, and ultimately the results I create in my life. Positive words lead to a positive life.
The reason words are such a powerful tool is that whenever you combine words together, they become thoughts (which you already know). But every single thought creates a chemical reaction in your body that you feel. For example, if you think the thought, “I’m a mean mom” that’s going to have a very different reaction in your body than if you think, “sometimes I’m a great mom and sometimes I get it all wrong, but I sure do love my babies and am doing my best.”
It’s the combination (and choice) of words that create the sentences in your head (the thoughts) that lead to your feelings. So, by choosing your words more carefully, you’ll be able to feel differently. And however you feel leads to your actions, so you’ll choose different actions when you feel differently.
- Related: Believing New Thoughts (podcast)
How Can Words Be Powerful
Words are powerful not just when they’re spoken—they’re powerful when they’re written or even just thought of.
I call this “Mental Chatter.” The words you say to yourself in your head. It’s language, thoughts, and all that rambling we all do between our ears. These words determine the quality of your life. Whether you’re feeling energized and happy or you’re feeling down and frustrated, it is always a result of what words you say to yourself in thought. It’s kind of incredible if you really think about it.
One of the most transformational mindset shifts I ever had was when I learned, you can think anything you want. This means that no one can control your thoughts (unless you’re being brainwashed!). You don’t have to think negative thoughts if you don’t want to. You don’t have to beat yourself up about yelling at your kids. You don’t have to think you’re getting it all wrong. You can choose to think you’re doing your best and sometimes that’s amazing while other times it’s a hot mess.
Because of the power of your mind—specifically what you think becomes your reality—it’s the words your choose that ultimately either positively or negatively impact your life.
While I often give a lot of “mindset tips” and ways for you to practice thought work, today I want to focus specifically on the words you use in your thoughts. And we’ll do that by showing you how to use your words wisely…
How To Use Your Words Wisely
I’ve come up with 5 tips you can start right now that will help you be more mindful of your words and chose your words more wisely.
Tip 1: Write down the words you’re thinking in a journal entry.
Writing is one of the best ways to see exactly what’s going on in your mind.
Thoughts can slip and slide into each other and before you know it, you’re down a rabbit hole of thoughts that aren’t serving you, and you have no idea how to get out.
Writing your thoughts down gives your words clarity. When you see your words clearly in writing, you can then focus on exactly what words you’re using.
If you’re not sure what to write, be sure to download my 75 Journal Prompts For Women And Moms.
Tip 2: Question the words you’re using.
After you’ve written down a journal entry, really question everything you wrote down.
You can ask any question that you think helps you understand your thinking more clearly.
Here are some examples…
- Is what you said true?
- Is what you said useful?
- Why did you say what you said?
- How did what you said make you feel?
- How did what you say change your body language?
- Is there anything else you could’ve said that’s also true that would serve you better?
- What types of words did you use and what characteristics do they have?
- Anything else?
The reason it’s so important to take a look at your words from a place of curiosity is because that’s the only real way to make a change. You can’t force yourself to speak differently if you don’t know where you’re starting from. It’s like a GPS where you need to know your starting and ending points.
- Clarifying Questions For Goal Success (blog post)
- Being Gentle With Yourself (podcast)
- 7 Tools To Manage Anxiety (free course)
Tip 3: Choose to use words more intentionally.
Once you have a grasp on the words you use, start to incorporate more words with intentionality.
This requires using new and different words you wouldn’t otherwise use.
I suggest making a list of 10-25 new words you’d like to start using. Then see where you can incorporate these words.
It’ll be slower and clunky at first because your brain hasn’t habituated it, but that’s okay. Keep going!
- How To Overcome Perfectionism (blog post)
- Intentional Imagination (podcast)
- How To Live An Intentional Life (free course)
Tip 4: Be gentle and polite to yourself and others
People often say “be kind” as sort of a way of life, but I say “be gentle.” Gentleness comes with softness and strength that’s both protective and loving.
You can be gentle with your dog, your car, your bank account, your kids, and yourself. That is to say, nothing is off limits when it comes to using gentle (and polite) words.
When you’re polite and gentle, you connect more with others (assuming you’re using the words from a place of authenticity) and you have deeper, more meaningful relationships.
Life is often easier for you when you’re gentle with yourself, too. So why not give it a try?
- How To Develop A Positive Mindset (blog post)
- Too Busy To Feel (podcast)
- Confidence Training (free course)
Tip 5: Choose words that are positive (or not)
Positivity is going through an upheaval, and for good reason. You don’t ever want to fall into “toxic positivity” where you’re looking for the silver lining and denying yourself the human experience.
Said differently, when someone dies, you want to be sad and when you don’t get the promotion, you want to be disappointed.
So when I say “choose words that are positive (or not)” what I’m really saying is to be deliberate with the words you choose and when you’re choosing to be positive and/or negative.
It makes sense you’d want to be feeling negative emotions in the examples above. But ask yourself if you often are spinning in negativity and having a vocabulary that feels negative. If this is the case, you want to notice it and catch yourself when you’re in that negativity spiral. Slowly but surely you’ll be able to move yourself out of it and choose more positive words.
Ultimately, you want a life where you’re “mostly positive” except for the “negative parts of life” where you want to experience negative emotions.
If you want to take your personal development work deeper, check out Grow You, my virtual life coaching program.
A Final Note!
I think the biggest challenge we have is not being aware of our words in the first place and then not knowing how much our words matter.
The words you use to yourself (in your Mental Chatter) and when you’re conversing with others matter and will impact both you and other people around you in incredible ways.
The goal is not to choose your words perfectly, but to slow down and choose them deliberately, so you live more purposefully.