Watch the Words You Use
Updated: Apr 10, 2020
by Bo Ramsey
Thoughts are things and words matter. I became aware of the words I was using back in my publishing days. My Executive Editor and friend, Jill Lawrence enlightened me on the subject.
At the time I had two small children and I sometimes referred to them as “little shits.” One day Jill asked me not to do that. She said, “Thoughts are things and the words you use make a difference. The Universe hears them.”
At the time I didn’t think a whole lot about it, but I did taper off on referring to my children as small pieces of excrement. I did it mostly to appease Jill and because it really didn’t sound nice. That small shift in my awareness started me thinking about how I referred to other things in my speaking, and I began to watch my words and use them differently.
Choosing our words in a mindful manner makes a small but significant difference in our lives. Adjusting our “self-talk” is especially effective. The Universe is indeed always listening, and we get back what we are putting out. Leon Russel said it best in one of his songs, “We all live in the jungle of our minds” and it is really true. Inner dialogue sets the stage for outer circumstances. Consider stinkin thinkin.
For decades I have practiced what I call the “cancel-cancel.” When I catch myself saying or even thinking something that is negative or self-sabotaging, I silently (or sometimes right out loud) say, “Cancel-Cancel.” The benefit, I believe is two-fold. Firstly I can give myself kudos (I love to self-praise, don’t you?) for my good habit of monitoring my thoughts and words. Secondly, I feel like I really have cancelled out something I didn’t intend for the Universe to create. And THAT makes me feel powerful. Yay me!
Words are symbols of our thoughts. Back in the day I used to call lots of stuff “shit.” I love that shit! That’s really the shits! Pass that shit over here! (Really, how hard is it to say “mashed potatoes”?) After Jill woke me up about how much I was using that word, not as an expletive (hell no!) but in descriptive terms, I started paying attention to ALL my words. I discovered that I was referring to and thinking about many things in a slightly derogatory manner. I wondered why I was doing that, but didn’t beat myself up over it, I just started changing my words, the ones I said and the ones I thought.
I started slowly. When I noticed I was saying something I didn’t want to say, I would stop and give it a quick thought. Remember, I was monitoring my inner conversation too. That’s where most of my attention was going. I would consider the word(s) I had used and then changed them if I needed to. A typical example might have gone like this:
Self-talk: “It’s time to take those damn pills!”
Self-talk correction: “It’s time to take my life-saving medication.”
See the difference? This may sound mamsy-pamsy, but it works for me, and is an actual example of how I am changing the words I use. And yes, I have to take those darn pills (oops, live-saving medication) every day. Obviously I’m not thrilled about having been recently told I have to take pills now, but I do have control over my thoughts. And I expect that over time I won’t be so annoyed with this change in my daily routine. And maybe one day I won't even have to take them!
Small changes, over time, will add up to big changes. Making a good habit or breaking a bad one will ripple out in your life and change its texture in a good way. Monitoring your thoughts and words is a small, but mighty way to bring positive change your way. Doing it has shown me a lot about myself, and I appreciate having a tool like this to make myself a better, happier person. Yay me!
Thanks for reading!
Bo Ramsey published The Shifting Times, a free spiritual newspaper, at the turn of the century. Today she is semi-retired and enjoys writing, editing and graphic design.