Our Words Matter

words, Words, WORDS—I’m up to my neck in words as I craft my next book—The Business of Being. And I’m thoroughly enjoying every minute of it!

During the day I write them. Throughout the evening I read them. I’ve devoured six books since I’ve been here.

A week before I left for my three-month sabbatical, I had the privilege of speaking with a small group of entrepreneurial millennials. One of the topics we discussed was how our words matter.

Hint # 6 — The town where I’m enjoying my sabbatical is one of the few towns in the continental United States that boasts only one—count em, ONE!—drive-thru coffee shop.

My friend Dawn said, “Our words create our world.” That’s one of the reasons I suggest that my clients voice what they want and refrain from stating what they don’t want.

For example, instead of making statements like “don’t slam the door,” “don’t forget your lunch,” and “don’t talk to me like that,” state your desired outcome instead—say what you want. “Shut the door quietly, please.” Remember your lunch.” Speak to me with respect.”

Do you say what you want instead of what you don’t want?

“We die. That may be the meaning of life. But we do language. That may be the measure of our lives.“ —Toni Morrison, American novelist, editor, and professor

Reminder, the caveat of the Looking for Laurie game stipulates: “The first person to type the accurate city and state of my sabbatical location into the comments section of the Mar 28 post will receive a personalized copy of Note to Self: A Seven-Step Path to Gratitude and Growth for themselves or as a gift to someone else.”

© lauriebuchanan.com

69 thoughts on “Our Words Matter

  1. I am so glad your three-month sabbatical is going well. I guess it is good you are in a cold place as it keeps you in and writing and reading!! The words we say, or don´t say, are so important. Love the Toni Morrison quote.

  2. I long ago learned that the subconscious cannot work with negatives.
    It basically works on pictures, and you cannot paint a picture of not something.
    So as you say – always phrase things in the positive.
    I will remember my keys.
    I will make the next meeting on time.
    Human being can be the most cooperative entities in existence.
    Automation can provide all the goods and services anyone reasonably needs.

    Yes our words matter.

    It seems clear that for each of us, our higher awareness is born in a declaration in language, so words matter for each and every one of us.

    Words allow us to create patterns for others, and the written word can travel widely through time and space, sometimes carrying ideas across generations.

  3. I love the Toni Morrison quote, Laurie. And I love words. And yes, words matter.
    When I was growing up, we’d sometimes play the dictionary game where someone would pick a word from the dictionary. Everyone would write a fake definition, and then the person would read all the fake definitions and the real one, and people would try to guess which was the real definition.

    Your “words, words, words” made me think of Eliza Doolittle’s song, “Show Me” from My Fair Lady.

  4. Words truly matter. They can help or discourage. Heal or hurt. Far too often we speak without thinking causing injury to those around us. It would be far better for us to speak fewer words with intent and purpose than a flood which cause harm.

    Have a wonderful time on your sabbatical!

    • Shirley — I’m sitting here, RIGHT NOW, watching a hand across the street, reach around a sliding glass door and feed a mule deer standing on the back patio slab (totally illegal, but I love her intentions nonetheless). In other words, I’m in heaven.

      Would I want to live in this location permanently? No. But it’s a wonderful three-month residence that because of its remoteness, ensures I “get the job done.”

      Thank you for our comment — it made me smile 🙂

  5. How serendipitous to read your words, Laurie. I just read an article about the short-lived Civility Project launched in 2009 by conservative Mark DeMoss with a pledge to be “respectful of others whether or not I agree with them” http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/01/12/mark-demoss-civility-project_n_808219.html
    A Jewish man from the Democratic party and a few others joined him, but the movement unfortunately didn’t gain much traction.

    On a personal note, as a teacher in pre-school I try to frame requests in positive terms too. Instead of “Stop running!” say “Careful feet!” The negative pops into my mind/mouth first though and I have to “edit.” Great post, wise reminder.

  6. Perhaps “don’t” is used so much by parents and other authority figures because the fear of failure or disaster is greater than the desire to achieve something positive. Example: Don’t play near the edge of the cliff. The fear of the parent is having their child fall to their death. They may be perfectly happy that their child sits like a lump playing in the dirt with a stick, or anything else as mundane, as long as the child stays alive. Easier to say one “don’t” than suggest one hundred “dos” or “How about trying this instead?”


  7. How funny…. I posted my blog first thing this morning, a post called “Words Matter,” and then I settled in to read the messages that came overnight. And there you were, Laurie, with a post entitled, “Our Words Matter.” Lovely message! I guess this reinforces just how much words matter, and how versatile words (and thoughts) are. And, of course, that old adage about “great minds”!

  8. Words do matter. And, I agree how we use words makes a difference. “I will” is more likely to result in a successful outcome than, “I’ll try.” If I’m focusing on a negative form of a situation, “I hope my car doesn’t skid on this icy road,” especially if said with a strong fear emotion, I may just be inviting that skid into a reality.
    Recently, I’ve read a couple of articles about how words are “embodied” within us, especially when repeated.become integrated within both body and psyche. We have a plethora of examples for this in current political discourse, “Believe me.”
    I’m glad to be one of a community of writers who are using words to provide clarity, support, guidance, peace and more. I’m happy to hear your writing time is so productive Laurie.

    • Audrey — I, too, am glad that you’re one of a community of writers who are using words to provide clarity, support, guidance, peace and more.

      I resonate with the observation that words are embodied within us, especially with repetition. Each day I vocalize (out loud) the following words: Flow. Peace. Joy. Health. Gratitude. Kindness. Inspiration. Creativity. Grace (which for me means, the immediate presence of Spirit) 🙂

  9. Oh Laurie, this is such a valuable tool for reframing and clarifying. A don’t or do not is like a knot. There is all this tension wound up in it and a person is never sure quite where to start in straightening it out. A clear arrangement of words for what we want just flows in the direction we want to go, or want someone else to go. Happy Valentine’s Day Laurie and all the best of the week to you!

  10. When my son was a baby and I was deep into learning how to be an effective and loving mom, I learned about positivity and focusing on always criticizing the act not the child when it was necessary – but now I cannot say whether I follow my own advice with my words. Your reminder was a good one, and I’ll start paying more attention to how I phrase things again. I can say with certainty that I still use that method with my furry girls though. Praise is heaped upon them when they do as I ask. And treats. Treats go a long way.

  11. I agree that words matter.

    I envy this sabbatical time you have gifted yourself.

    I am glad I got a copy of your book early on. I have a collection of books written by friends. It reminds me that some of my friends may have a book written by me someday.

    I wish you continued success in your career as an author. Fondly !!

    • Deb — I know I’ll have a book authored by you in my hands one of these days.

      Once you’ve had a chance to read Note to Self, I hope you’ll post a brief review on Amazon and Goodreads 🙂

  12. Definitely words matter. As a writer I am very much aware of this. And as I read your post, Laurie, and the comments, the song that goes through my head is the Buddy Holly song
    “Words of Love” – not just because I’ve been listening to it a lot lately (sung by the Beatles). But if you just say those three words and think about them for a minute…

    I too, write write in the daytime and read part of the evening – although not all the time for either as I am hounded by health and house distractions which have to be dealt with.

  13. Laurie, I don’t think I can hear that message enough! My tongue is often like a runaway horse, there is no stopping it when it takes a notion to run wild. I’ve spent more time agonizing over things I’ve said than I have regretting being quiet.

  14. Happy National Potato Chip Day. Words are so important and in the positive…YES! Stay warm, stay warm. Reading lots here too…

  15. My words aren’t going to mean anything this week, cos I’m too darn late . Never mind next week I’ll be time you can bet . I love the quote too Darlene ❤️🌷.

  16. That really true that words have their own power .It changes the way n direction of life if positive n shatters everything in seconds if negative or demotivating.your topics of blogging are awsom great pleasure in reading you dear.

  17. At age 48, I’m still finding my voice and learning to say what I mean to. I’m gonna have to get a copy of Note to self as gratitude plays such an important role in growing. Glad I stopped by your page today. Much Peace to you.

  18. Our words really matter. I am experiencing this more than ever in my current assignment. I am happy to say I am, finally, getting progressively better in saying what I want. Excited to learn you are working on a new book on the important business of being.

  19. Yes, Laurie. As authors, we know how meaningful, relevant, and significant our words can be for our writing, our speech, and relationships. I also think that knowing that words matter is only part of the issue. Sincerely listening (not hearing) to our words and other people’s words also matters!

  20. Words hurt. A kind of abuse. I grew up with that. But I tried to raise my children with sentences that started like “You know I love you, but it hurts me when you……” and then show them the right way. Too much yelling and anger in this world. We need more laughter and love!

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