The Power of Words

Last fall I attended a yoga workshop with the fabulous Grace Jull. She said something that really struck me, “Your words create your world.” As a writer and editor, I’m all about words. In this case, she was referring to those thoughts that are always running in the back of our minds, sometimes up front. On a good day it might be something like, “You’re on top of things” or “Great job.” On a bad day, well, on a bad day those words will hit all your hot buttons. “You’re fat and lazy,” You never finish anything,” or maybe even be the words of someone you used to know, like, “You’ll never amount to anything.” Ouch. We wouldn’t talk to someone we care about that way but we do it to ourselves all the time, often without even noticing.

And it’s not just yoga teachers who are on to this. A close friend of mine who is an attorney stopped me recently when I was bemoaning my forgetfulness and proclaiming that I was developing Alzheimer’s disease (I can be a little dramatic at times). She commanded, “Don’t say that. If you keep saying it, it will come true.”

Grace offered an alternative. Whenever you notice negative words running through your head, replace them with something positive or even neutral. A mantra or affirmation will work. You don’t even have to know what the words mean. For example, the mantra “So hum” is Sanskrit. You can use it as a focus for your meditation. Or you can use it to replace the voice over in your head. (If you’re wondering, it means “I am.” ) Sometimes for me the advantage of using something like Sanskrit is that I don’t embellish it. For example, if I was using “I am” I might be tempted to tack something unflattering on to the end and then boom, I’m back in the craziness.

It’s a work in progress for me. What about you? What kind of world have your words created for you?


  1. The right words for me to hear at the right time. Thanks!

  2. Thanks Julie! A perfect reminder to all of us to continually edit our internal monologue.

  3. I am terrible about negative self-talk, so this post is very helpful. I love the idea of replacing those negative words with “so hum.” I agree that saying “I am” could encourage more negative labeling, but “so hum” just has a happy, almost musical vibe. I’m going to try this!

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