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  • Anneka Barrett

The power of words


“Words are singularly the most powerful force available to humanity. We can choose to use this force constructively with words of encouragement, or destructively using words of despair. Words have energy and power with the ability to help, to heal, to hinder, to hurt, to harm, to humiliate and to humble.”


Yehuda Berg



Words are magical, a force so powerful one can heal the deepest of wounds or with a single blow destroy something. A study in 2003 found the average woman speaks 20,000 words a day. Men, who tend to use less, said 7,000. That’s a lot of words. Which got me thinking about what we say, how we say it, but not to others, to ourselves.


You are the person you speak to most on a daily basis. The way in which you speak to yourself has just as much power as the way you speak to others, in my opinion more so. Have you ever stopped to think about how you talk to yourself? If so, what kind of things do you say?


We have a propensity to speak to ourselves in a negative manner, oddly this is one of the brain's most primitive responses. It is caution to stop us from doing things that are dangerous. These days however, the same instinct and fear reaction that would stop us from going too close to a saber tooth tiger can stop us from pursuing goals, dreams and ambitions out of fear.


In our modern world we don’t need to fear dreams and ambition. We merely need to convince that part of our brain that wants to protect us that this ambition is not a saber-toothed tiger. We can do that with the power of our words, and the ones we chose to use on ourselves.


From a cognitive perspective this is the process of reframing thoughts. No one does this better in my opinion than Susan Jeffers, author of ‘Feel the Fear and do it Anyway’. She talks about turning your Pain words into Power words.


Let’s think about the phrase ‘I can’t’, how many times have you said that? ‘I can’t do this’, is a personal go to of mine. What if instead of ‘I can't’ we started saying ‘I won’t’.


‘I won’t do this’, puts the power back into my hands. ‘I can’t’, comes from fear. It is a simple and subtle change but immensely powerful.


Shifting your language from a place of fear, or as Jeffers, says pain, allows you to gain control of your narrative. It no longer controls you, you are in control of it.


Try thinking of something you can’t do, and instead of saying ‘I can’t’ try ‘I won’t’ and see how it feels. Below are some of the other examples from Jeffers book.




Words have power and they have meaning. They can make or break you emotionally. It’s important to remember that you have power of the words you use when you speak to yourself. Be mindful of when they come from a place of fear that you can change that to regain that power. There is no need to give that power away. There are no more saber-toothed tigers.


Remember, whatever you are going through you aren’t alone.


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