Words... Who Knows What They Mean!

A client asked me recently what I thought about her husband using the word “shall” in their evening prayers. He thought it represented knowing good things will come and she thought it was forceful. I worked through what I thought the word really meant, and checked several dictionary resources.

I realized that it doesn’t matter what the dictionary says, or using the word precisely according to its definition… what matters is perception. Each of us, with our unique history, education, career, culture, religion, health, geography, friends, family, and experiences… have unique perceptions of the world, and of words. A word can actually never mean the same exact thing to two different people.

It’s really fun to explore this idea. Think about it, and see how many words mean something to you that no one else would know. Perhaps they are related to a person in your past who frequently used them, how you felt about that person, and how that person made you feel. Think about a word your grandparents used, or a favorite teacher, or your least favorite boss. That personal history of yours matters, and colors the definition of the word for you. Savor the magnitude of the mystery in all of that.

Even more important is that the vibe that is put out with the word. Let me give an example with the word love. If a parent says to a child “I love you, but your behavior is driving me mad right now,” that feels completely different that “I love you, you are the most perfect daughter in the whole world.” The child is going to respond much more to the vibe that comes with the word love, than the word itself. Think about the use of sarcasm, or when someone has a condescending tone.

The feeling and the emotion and the vibrational energy you put out with a word are far more important than the word itself. That is why in person communication is far more effective than phone, which is far more effective than email.

It’s not the word that matters, it is the feeling and emotion and vibrational energy behind the word that matters. Enjoy all your words. Accept the infinite number of potential perceptions out there. Savor the endless mystery of communication.

Enjoy, Rick


Rick Schaefer, M.D. is known as the Happiness Coach. He is the creator of Guilt-Free Coaching, and is the author of Extreme Thought Makeover™… 37 Days to Maximum Life! He speaks throughout the U.S. and has a following in more than 50 countries. To learn more or to work with Dr. Rick directly, call 414-573-8880 or go to http://www.rickschaefermd.com