The Power of Words

January 31, 2014

This week I will begin by confessing to being a logophile. To save you from running for your dictionary, I will tell you it means I am a lover of words. They are rich and omnificent. In my writing and speaking I have grown into a deep appreciation for all that can be conveyed by using the perfect word.

Another confession is that I find people who overly contrive their speech by analyzing every word with the intention of creating the precise reality they want extremely annoying. Many not only want to create their reality, they want to help you create yours too. Toward this end they endlessly point out every word you use that may not be in full accordance with your desired destiny. These are people I do not want dine with let alone share a glass of wine.

While I respect their point of view and acknowledge the power words can wield, I also prefer to not contrive my languaging to the point that it is unnatural. It feels more genuine and authentic to relax, communicate from my heart, and with full presence to the person or people I am with at the time. Words have the ability to shift the mind, heart, and perspective. Having noticed over the years the truth certain words reveal, I prefer to pay attention, truly hear myself, and be aware rather than obsessively police myself. Even when it’s just me talking to myself.

If this appeals to you or you are just curious, read on to consider some of my favorite ways to say what you mean and mean what you say:

Should vs. Could~ This was the first word that was introduced to me as packing a punch, even if unintentionally. Using the word ‘should’ immediately reeks of judgment. If used in a past tense, as in ‘should have’, guilt can consume my entire consciousness. It seeks to control self or others by the imposition of rules/shoulds not necessarily agreed to. And I ask you…is there truly anything in this world that we ‘should’ do? For what reason? To what end? I propose replacing ‘should’ (little gag in my throat) with ‘could’. The alternative implies choices and freedom. It offers opportunities rather than imprisonment. “I could work this afternoon…you could take the dog on a walk…We could cook rather than go out to dinner.” Already my shoulders are relaxing…aahhh.

Try vs. Do My Best ~ I only recently discovered my distaste for the word ‘try’. For me it implies that I actually intend or at least expect to fail. Sometimes it conveys uncertainty. If I really don’t want to do something (“I’ll try to make it for drinks at 5”) then I prefer to just say so rather than leave myself slightly on the hook and set up for forgiveness if I fail to follow through. To say “I will do my best” communicates that I am uncertain of my success and I do truly want to achieve whatever it is I am endeavoring to do…make it for drinks, finish a project by a certain time, fulfill a request, etc.… If I cannot say honestly that I will ‘do my best’, then I’d rather not make a false commitment at all. This change of wording also empowers me rather than fill me with doubt about my ability. Gotta love that.

But vs. And or However ~ A guy I dated a few years ago pointed this one out to me. He made a valid point that using the word ‘but’ completely negates everything you said before it. Hmmm…I was not convinced so I started to pay attention. “I really enjoy your company but I need to end this relationship”. “I do want to come to your party but I have too much to do”. Interesting. By switching to ‘and’ or ‘however’ all my words retain their meaning. These words are inclusive rather than negating. I am a lover of clear and authentic communication.

Pick any one of these this week and see what your languaging reveals to you. Please don’t go crazy and be militant with your self. Just have fun and see what your words reveal. There are more I want to share so I suspect I’ll be writing on this topic again.

Till then, I invite you to share your favorite words or what you experience when you shift the words you use. I’d love to hear from you!

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