‘Sticks and stone may break my bones but words will never hurt me’. For most, that little rhyme was the first introduction to what my grandma used to call “hogwash”. Your words matter. Your words affect your physical feelings, beliefs, the people around you, and even your weight. It’s time to give up the hogwash and be the one that changes the dynamic of our society because your words matter.

Social media gives a platform to see what conversations between friends look like. Scroll through for practically no time and you’ll come across someone poking fun at themselves, their eating habits, their bodies, their motivation. Friends are quick to jump into the conversation, not for the rescue, but to poke fun at themselves for all of the same reasons. As the conversation goes on the words get harsher but are always followed by an LOL. The problem is, when these conversations aren’t happening in the company of friends they’re still happening in our heads… and they aren’t followed up with LOL.

Shame is a familiar feeling for me. It’s a familiar feeling for most women (and I’m sure men, too). Studies show on an average day 97% of women say they dislike their body. Shame researcher (and one of my top three favorite authors and people) Dr. Brene Brown found through that the number one source of shame for women was body and weight.

While there is laughter after our words with friends, the scene at home looks much different. The scene at home looks like hidden wrappers, belly aches, tears, disgust, laying in bed feeling depressed… you get the picture. A few weeks of the shame cycle may be followed up with intense, joyless exercise and deprivation-filled dieting. When that can’t be withstood (because no one can or should withstand life like that) we give in, label ourselves a person who has no willpower and the vicious shame cycle continues.

Shame is an intense feeling. It creates a connection that says we have to change in order to be loved/accepted. I believe through joking - making fun of ourselves, our eating habits, our bodies, our motivation we’re looking for connection. In the moment, the connection is felt; in the end, we’re left feeling shame. You are already worthy of love and connection. You were born worthy. If you are walking around feeling shame about your body for any reason it’s because your body image is distorted and negative. It comes from narrow perceptions and expectations that have been broadcast on to you. The good news is, we can change our perceptions into a more positive, loving one. It doesn’t come from changing your body, it comes from changing your words. Your words matter.

Your words affect your physical feelings. Pay attention to the energy you feel when you say things like, ‘I am so tired’, ‘I have no willpower’, ‘I can’t do it’. Now feel the difference when you say out loud, ‘I feel so good’, ‘I am powerful’, ‘I can do it’. Almost scary, right?!

Words have an affect on the people who hear them. Even when it’s YOU you’re talking about. Your friends, your kids, your coworkers… they’re all listening. Those harsh words towards yourself also send a message to them that there is no room for loving and accepting themselves either.

You words change your beliefs. Say it enough - you’ll start to believe it. Believe it and it will affect the way you make decisions. What do you want to believe about yourself?

The Four Agreements, a New York Times Bestseller, based on ancient Toltec wisdom offers a powerful code of conduct that can transform our lives to experience freedom, true happiness and love. The first agreement? Be impeccable with your word. The first agreement seems straight forward but has a very powerful meaning. It states: Speak with integrity. Say only what you mean. Avoid using the word to speak against yourself or to gossip about others. Use the power of your word in the direction of truth and love.

It’s time to recognize that you are worthy. It’s time to feel that worthiness and acceptance. It’s time to practice self-love. It’s time to start that practice by changing our words. It’s time to give up the hogwash and be the one that changes the dynamic of our society because your words matter.