Words are powerful, and whether you utter them aloud or to yourself, they create emotion.  They determine how you and others feel.  I’m sure you have heard the saying, “Sticks and stones will break your bones but names will never hurt you?” Don’t believe this for a second.  There are more people lying on a therapist’s couch and emotionally distraught – not because of the sticks and stones or the broken bones, but because of the words.  Words create passion – both highs and lows.  Words create dis-ease and disease.  But they also provide comfort, and a source for future success.  When you experience a serious life setback, the words you use to communicate with yourself and others, play a major role in the healing and recovery process.

Words are powerful

Henry Ford said, “If you think you can or if you think you can’t – you’re right.” The power behind selecting your vocabulary with care lies in your ability to manage your language to better manage your emotions. Isn’t it true that most people are more emotionally comfortable with the words ‘passing away’ in contrast to ‘dying?’  How about ‘unemployed’ as opposed to ‘in transition?’ Is there a difference in how you feel when you’re told to, ‘quiet down,’ as opposed to, ‘shut up?’  Many years ago, the term ‘cripple’ was changed to ‘invalid,’ which was changed to ‘disabled,’ which was changed to ‘handicapped,’ and today has been changed to ‘physically challenged.’  Decades ago, the term ‘imbecile’ was replaced with ‘moron,’ which was changed to ‘idiot,’ which was changed to ‘mentally retarded,’ then ‘mentally handicapped,’ and today, has been changed to ‘emotionally challenged.’

So words and phrases are changed for the sole purpose of changing emotions – how you feel. A salesperson became an associate.  A garbage collector became a sanitation engineer.  A stewardess became a flight attendant.  The secretary became an administration assistant.  And the receptionist became the director of first impressions.

Manage your words so they serve you well

When you’re aware that words are power and create emotion at all levels… you can then manage your vocabulary to assure that the words you use serve you well.  What do I mean by managing vocabulary?  Well, once you become aware of those words that create pain, discomfort, stress, anger, and fear… you need only change the words and use more constructive and empowering vocabulary. Indeed, watching and changing vocabulary will de-intensify a negative or fearful emotional state, or change it altogether to create a more positive and healing state of mind.  So once you identify those words that cause fear, pain, and dis-ease… simply replace those words with empowering vocabulary that won’t eliminate the underlying problem, but will dramatically reduce its negative impact, so you can meet the problem in a more positive state of mind.

Words that don’t serve

What words do you use that create the most emotional turmoil?  What words do you use that could potentially damage the healing and / or recovery process; or getting a new and better job?  Once you begin to identify words you use that “don’t serve you or your future,” simply replace them with more constructive and courageous vocabulary. The following list consists of words and phrases that normally create negative feelings… and are followed by words that might neutralize or outright reverse the negative emotion.  Identify words you need to change… to get all that you deserve.


I’m unemployed TO I’m reengineering my career

I’m scared TO I have a healthy concern

I’m a wreck TO I’m experiencing some challenges

I’m livid TO I’m rather upset

I hate this TO I could do without this

Adversity TO Opportunity

This is a nightmare TO This is a test of character

This is a death sentence TO This is a life challenge

I am depressed TO I’m a bit out of whack

The odds are against me TO I determine the odds

Don’t ever underestimate the power of using the right language.  Achievement and  underachievement, how you are perceived by others (and yourself), and the quality of your life are closely tied to words.


Jay Block is an industry pioneer and the nation’s leading motivational career coach.  Jay is a best-selling author of 15 books, including his latest blockbuster: 101 Best Ways To Land a Job in Troubled Times (McGraw-Hill).  He has a 20-year record of success for creating and recreating the career management industry. His website is: www.jayblock.com