The Magic of Words


I am an English speaking person, by birth person. Given that context you would think that I would have been easily able to master the magic of using the correct words to achieve my goals. If you have ever read any of my blogs you will notice that typically I start off with the dictionary definition. I do this because, I want to make sure everyone is on the same page about the context of the word I am using. However, I have looked up the words I’m going to cover in this blog up and I don’t see them described this way in the dictionary. Let me ask you a question. What is your response when your boss has given you so many tasks that no human alive could achieve them in the desired time frame, and your boss gives you another one? The average person is not going to argue with this, they instead are going to pacify the person demanding things from them. The response becomes, “I will try”. Let’s take this another direction. A person whom you have a relationship with (father, mother, sibling, spouse, boyfriend/girlfriend, partner, ect) gives you an assignment. Something that they need done, but you have no desire or plan to actually achieve. What’s your typical response? For most people, their response becomes “I will try”. How long do you think it’s possible to use the word ty before it becomes an internal cop out? I cannot tell you how many adults I work with, who when I am teaching them new skills, they will say “I tried” or “I am trying”. There’s a complete lack of commitment when we use the word try. When I used to facilitate groups and I would hear someone use the word try, I would toss them a box of tissues. I would ask them to demonstrate what trying looks like. Inevitably, they would pick up the box of tissues, I would then instruct them that they had done it wrong. I simply wanted them to show me what trying looks like, not succeeding. At which point they would become confused. Trying indicates an absolute lack of commitment. In my experience there is no trying, you either do it or you do not do it.

Another word that is commonly mis-used is just. Even as I look at the definition of the word it doesn’t match how most of us use this word. The typical context I hear this word used in is: “I’m just going to” or “I just need to” or even “I just”. Can we really think of a bigger excuse maker? It seems to be a catalyst for denying either our responsibility or our commitment. I suspect that for most people these justifications come from a lack of boundaries or a sense of being overwhelmed. My recommendation is for us to purify our language and increase our accountability.

I was taught many years ago that commitment was a big deal. I desired to be a person of my word. Therefor I keep my commitment today unless I have a valid (and urgent) reason to not be able to keep that commitment. In the book of Matthew of the Bible, we are told to let our yes be yes and our no be no. How much clearer do we need to receive this message?

Below is a list of ways to remove the excuses from your language, increase your accountability, and enhance the magic of your words. These are how I have eliminated the negative and self-sabotaging words from my vocabulary:

  1. Understand our words have power: Whether we ascribe to the Law of Attraction or Self Fulfilling Prophecy the results are the same: Whatever we think, feel, believe, speak, or imagine to be true…we are creating that as a reality. For some people this may be a terrifying realization. For others, it will be wickedly empowering. Once we understand the absolute power of the spoken (or thought of) words we can begin creating our reality.
  2. Don’t commit initially: Many years ago I began implementing a philosophy in which I would not agree to do anything right when asked. In fact my standard answer became, “I need to check my schedule”. This allowed me some time and distance from the potential obligation to sort out if it was something I wanted to do, if it was something I would be best served by doing, or if it was something I was interested in. It allowed me an avenue for detachment without being overly concerned with hurting the other person.
  3. Clarity Meditations: Literally this can take less than a minute. I am a big believer in keeping things simple. The way I do this is by breathing in through my nose and out through my mouth. I focus on how the air feels coming in and out. Once I have done that for a few seconds I focus on breathing in all the good things (peace, love, joy, clarity, harmony, creativity) and I exhale all of the troublesome things (doubt, fear, insecurity, worry, anxiety). Recently I facilitated a client experiencing this phenomenon and she was instantly hooked. And the shift it created took less than 57 seconds to occur.
  4. Write it down: I love electronic technology. But after getting confused or near misses to deadlines, I went back old school. I have surrendered to the need to have written accountability. This allows me to stay focused, accountable, and accurate. I can also see (with a quick glance to my calendar) how I am doing with the balance I desire in my life. I also really value setting my intentions the night before. I would encourage everyone to spend some time before bed writing down a list of 3 – 6 things you want to accomplish the next day.
  5. Affirmations: At the end of the day, affirmations are simply statements of intent. This reminds me of Don Miguel Ruiz’s book The Four Agreements. In this book he talks about using the power of your word to speak in the direction of truth and love. How can it get any better than that? If you are new to affirmations, keep it simple. The goal here is to speak your intention as though it has already happened.

Every single word in the human language has meaning. Remember if your words are not assisting you in creating the reality you desire, than they are hurting you. If you wonder if the word you are using has any negative ties to it, go to the dictionary. Many times we have altered the original use or context of a word to mean what fits our motives.

Jenn Bovee, LCSW is a spiritual life coach and psychotherapist. Jenn offers in person and distance life coaching sessions. You can learn more about her here: