Watch Your Words
rom the very first days of Kindergarten we are taught to watch our words, for, as we are told, our words hold tremendous power. The mantra, “If you have nothing nice to say, don’t say anything at all”, was impressed upon us at a very young age. As a result, we have learned to watch the language we use when we communicate with others; we are kind, never unnecessarily critical and always gentle. We learn to be sensitive to how the words we choose make others feel. We keep careful watch on the way we speak to others, but do we pay enough attention to the words we use and the tone we take when we speak to ourselves?
It may come as a surprise that the way in which we speak to ourselves or our “self -talk” can be significantly different from the way we speak to others. We tend to be unforgiving, critical and downright mean when we speak to ourselves.
As such, I want to add to the notion of treat others the way you would want to be treated and challenge you to treat yourself the way you want others to treat you.
Tune into your self-talk and ask yourself, would you speak this way to your sibling, best friend, neighbor or colleague? Would you let them speak this way to you? Probably not, so why do we give ourselves permission to inflict this harsh, analytical and unkind language upon ourselves?
Louise Hay, famous for her work on positive affirmations, speaks about how negative self-talk is a learned neurological pattern. In her book, Heal Your Body, Hay explains, “When you were a tiny baby, you were pure joy and love. You knew how important you were… You knew you were perfect. And that is the truth of your being. All the rest is learned non-sense and can be unlearned.” Learning to rewire our self-talk to include an underlying tone of kindness can be equal parts uncomfortable and unnatural, and this is where positive affirmations can help.
Positive affirmations are short phrases that you can repeat daily to yourself. They are a way of re-wiring the narratives we tell ourselves, about ourselves. Affirmations are short and effective phrases that while painfully unnatural at first can become more accepted as they are recited over time. It is often advised for individuals to write down their affirmations and stick them to a mirror in their bedroom or bathroom. The affirmations can be said while looking at oneself in the mirror and should be read daily. While there is a great selection of already written affirmations from which one can choose, I encourage you to write your own. Write something that feels uncomfortable and challenges you, but says the things you have always wanted to tell yourself but never have allowed yourself to.
Some examples can be:
- I am enough
- I am so loved
- I am motivated and intelligent, there is so much I can do
- I am courageous and brave
Be honest with yourself and write something that resonates positively with you. Then stick it on your mirror, look yourself in the eye- and really, truly and genuinely speak kindly to yourself. Your kindergarten teacher was right when they told you to watch your words; they really can make all the difference.
Hay, L. L. (1984). Heal your body. Hay House, Inc.