“Your words are powerful.” This is a discussion that has been occurring recently in my clinical practice. I find myself often educating clients about the importance and power of words.
Words are incredibly powerful. They can dictate how you think and feel about yourself, others, problems, situations, and the world. And the interesting thing about words is that we as humans give them meaning. Think about it: different languages determine the meaning of words (which are actually just a bunch of sounds that come together to form a word that we as humans have given meaning).
Words are purposeful in that they allow us to communicate and spread ideas. However, words are also very powerful – especially when it comes to self talk and communicating our expectations, hopes, dreams, emotions, and thoughts.
There are many nonchalant negative things that we say to ourselves that go unnoticed or unrecognized for having an impact. For example, if you frequently think or tell yourself aloud after making a mistake “I’m so stupid” or “I’m an idiot,” it’s important to understand that those words go a lot deeper and actually have a far greater impact on your self-esteem and self worth.
Subtle comments such as I can’t, I won’t, I’m not, I have, I am, etc. all cause the speaker to over-identify with the message and often to begin to define themselves by the way they are speaking.
Another example is a person who says “I have a lot of problems.”
Even though that phrase might sound innocuous, or might even be true, that statement is one of ownership and a person will begin to over-identify with their problems, or the very idea of “having so many problems,” and subsequently allow problems to define them.
Take another example, such as a person who says “I’m not good at meeting new people.” While it is true that the person might believe this, by making such self-statements, it only intensifies the original belief and behaviorally will limit the person from making attempts to meet new people out of fear and increased confidence in the idea that they are not good at meeting others. Essentially, their mind becomes a force used against them, but only out of their own self-directed negative self-talk.
Just as negative self-talk can be incredibly harmful to the ego, positive self-talk can do the opposite. Positive self-talk is incredibly helpful and healing.
Usually, especially in therapy, one of the goals is for individuals to improve self-esteem, to lessen overthinking, and see situations for what they really are. Intertwined in these goals is the idea of self-talk.
What you tell yourself about yourself, others, the world, problems, etc. has a significant impact on how you relate to the problem, person, thing, situation, or yourself.
Implementing positive, or at least neutral and realistic self-talk, is key to feeling better and living a more fulfilling life.
Self-esteem traverses across and through many domains of life. When a person speaks negatively about them self, they are only reinforcing negative ideas that likely are not even true. No one is perfect by any means, but by thinking more positively and engaging in positive self-talk, you are more likely to feel better, perform better, interact better, and live a more meaningful and fulfilling life.
Part of building self-esteem is increasing positive self-talk. And part of feeling more confident in your work and relationships is thinking positively about them. This is not meant to suggest that you ignore the realities of any situation and operate through rose colored glasses at the expense of ignoring true difficulties or problems, but rather it is to suggest that when something negative does not actually exist or there are positive aspects to a situation, that you focus on those sides of things and not falsely criticize or contemplate a situation.
Essentially, learning how to differentiate between what is actually negative versus positive, as well as the gray in between (nothing is dichotomous as all good or bad, after all), and to think about and communicate your ideas in these terms is what will have a meaningful impact on your mental and emotional quality of life.
We Can Help
At Tampa Therapy, we are trained to identify and help you learn how to recognize negative thinking that is more destructive than helpful. Most of the time, the negative thinking and negative self-talk that we as humans engage in is purposeless! However, it is easy to get in the habit of negativity and not even realize you are sending negative messages to yourself, and thinking about things in overly negative terms.
The team at Tampa Therapy is here to help you make self-improvements, such as learning about and changing negative thinking and negative self-talk. We would love to assist you on your journey to growth and healing. We are committed to providing a relaxing, healing, and non-judgmental environment to support you on your journey. If you want things to be different, you have to change them. Give us a call or email us today to start the process of making important changes in your life.