'Be careful how you are talking to yourself, because you are listening' Lisa M Hayes
Though we may not even realise it, the way we speak to and about ourselves has huge impact on our feelings and experience. The never-ending narrative written within our minds is not mere words, it’s the translation of how we perceive our worlds, ourselves and the stories we’re composing about both. Our language has the power to be constructive or destructive, to enhance or limit ourselves; to build us up or put us down.
Put simply, what you say to yourself matters. And if what we’re saying isn’t giving us a positive view of life, then it seriously matters that we take notice and make the necessary changes.
The language we use on a daily basis becomes ingrained; it’s habitual and automatic and we may have no idea of its potential negative impact. There are various phrases and words that we don’t even realise diminish our self-worth and re-enforce self-limiting beliefs.
These could be different for each of us, so it’s important to consciously pay attention to what our thoughts are telling us.
Here are some common ones to delete from our dictionaries:
1. I CAN’T
I can unfortunately vouch for the power of ‘I can’t’ in keeping us feeling small, worthless and incapable. This one, from my own experience, can significantly increase anxiety, cement negative beliefs and make life feel a lot more intimidating, scary and impossible than it ever needs to be. Telling ourselves we can’t causes Constant And Neverending Torture.
We are capable of so much more than we realise. But in order to grant access to what we want out of life, we need to unlock the language of belief and trust. Whether or not it feels true, tell yourself you can. Repeat as necessary and eradicate any internal conversation of ‘can’ts’. If you do find yourself resorting to it, and a ‘can’ still isn’t sitting right, simply add in a ‘yet’. Permit the power of possibility in your life and you’ll find yourself eventually replacing the ‘can’t ‘and embracing the ‘can’. As the quote goes, ‘Turn your can’ts into can’s and your dreams into plans’.
2. I AM + NEGATIVE WORD
‘I am’ is one of the most powerful phrases in our vocabulary to create our own reality and how do we use this? We call ourselves names and we insist on highlighting our ‘faults’. Quite often the ‘I am’ statements we’re making in our minds are affirmations of our low opinion of ourselves - we’re useless, stupid, fat, annoying, the worst, losers etc. I’m sure we all have a few favourites as go-to’s.
We consistently reaffirm the parts of ourselves we don’t like, where we fall short or the negative beliefs we have about who we are. Instead of fuelling our fluency in negative self-talk, catch these statements and translate them in to words that you’d actually like to be. What you speak about, you bring about. But don’t judge how often you use negative words or take on any guilt, instead commit to creating a constructive catalogue of phrases and language that make you genuinely feel good about yourself.
3. I SHOULD
If you’re looking for a great way to feel pressure and stress, bombard yourself with things you ‘should’ do. Words like this can carry an emotional attachment to them. There’s an added weight of incompetence, not good enough, and failing to measure up when we smother ourselves in ‘should’s. Instead, consider what you would like to do, explore helpful things you could do, speak to yourself about goals and dreams instead of pressures and worries.
4. WHY CAN’T I / WHY AMN’T I?
There’s a litany of lingo that’s sole purpose seems to be to make us feel bad about ourselves and how we live our lives. Questions asking why we’re not the way we should be or comparing ourselves to others - why can’t I be like them, why amn’t I as good etc - are entirely pointless. It’s not as if they even motivate us for change, nah they just keep us stuck in victim mode, measuring ourselves up against the pedestals of the rest of the population. There’s a reason that it’s said that, ‘Comparison is the thief of joy’.
Instead of constantly asking why, ask what you can do about it. Ask what you do have that you appreciate, look for positives within and make it your business to give them your energy. If you do want self-improvement - grand, go after it, but make sure it’s coming from a place of kindness. Turn your desperation into inspiration and ensure to support rather than undermine yourself in the way you speak.
5. I KNOW BUT / I WANT TO BUT..
The word ‘but’ allows our fears to speak for us. It negates the first part of the sentence by representing our reservations, lack of confidence and worries about what we actually want to accomplish. It gives us excuses and makes us believe in its validity. ‘I know what I need to do, but I don’t have the time’ ‘I want to do this, but I can’t’ ‘I would like to try it, but I wouldn’t be good enough’, you know these sort of phrases, but do we realise how often we let them dictate what we do?
When we notice these come up, we need to chop off the part of the sentence that follows ‘but’ and consider what we’re left with. If we truly want these things, what strengths can we focus on to overcome the ‘buts’? Where’s the potential? What are the options? How could we do these things? What is actually stopping us?
The way we speak communicates our experiences; it tells our story and introduces who we are. Positive language makes a major difference to how we feel, progress and achieve our own personal success.
Begin to listen to the language you use in the telling of your own story and harness your power as narrator, author and editor to make it one that brings you a more positive creation.