Watch Your Words

The words we speak, whether silently to ourselves or what we verbalize can reveal why our self-esteem might be low and why we are not living a happy life.

Watch your words

In my book, Watch Your Words is Pit Buster #23. Here’s Why.

Watch Your Words – Words Have Power

Masaru Emoto is a Japanese author, and an alternative doctor has documented the effects negative or positive words have on the formation of water crystals. Positive, loving words yield beautifully shaped crystals, while harsh, negative words yield ugly, deformed crystals. Since our physical bodies are 70% water, words can have a tremendous impact on who we are and how we feel.

Watch your Words – Words Affect How we Feel

In 2009, I attended a learn-at-lunch lecture at UCLA to hear Dr. Daniel J. Siegel share some of his findings captured in his book Mindsight: The New Science of Personal Transformation. One of his findings addressed how the power of language affects our level of stress. As an exercise, he asked us to say “no” several times. Then he asked us to say “yes” several times. What audience members reported was that repeating “no” triggered feelings of restriction, stress, tightness, and fear; while repeating “yes” triggered feelings of expansiveness, freedom, and relief from stress. Those are just TWO words! Consider how many other words we speak on a daily basis that either contributes to our stress or provide blessed relief.

For nearly 15 years, I was fortunate to work with a gentleman who was, as I and many describe him, the prince of patience and tact. No matter what situation and level of stress he encountered, his first response would always be, “That’s okay.” Those two simple words, gently spoken, brought such relief and enabled me to approach situations with more clarity.

Today, “That’s okay” is a phrase I say to myself 100 or so times a day. When I catch myself on the verge of thinking or saying something negative about myself, I counter it with “That’s okay, honey. You’re doing just fine.” It makes a PROFOUND difference in how I feel about myself and any corresponding action I may take.

Watch your Words – Words Affect Our Self Image

Among the most important words spoken are the words we speak to and about ourselves. George R. Walther, the author of Power Talking, says that the words we use when talking to ourselves help to shape our own self-image which impacts our actions and behavior.

David D. Burns, the author of Feeling Good, says that the cause of our sense of worthlessness is our ongoing self-criticism.

I am often appalled at the way I talk to myself. Just recently I decided to place an item in my purse instead of a desk drawer, all the while saying to myself something like, “You better put this in your purse, not your desk, because you are such a scatterbrained moron that you’ll forget it otherwise.” The tone was negative and derogatory.

Wow! I was SHOCKED when I realized how I was speaking to myself. What right do I have to talk to myself, or anyone, in that manner? And then I mused, how often am I talking that way to myself and it goes unchecked?

Another critical phrase I hear myself saying is “What’s the use? I’ll never get it right.” That phrase pretty much stops me in my tracks, and I throw in the towel. If I’m mindful enough to catch myself, I’ll reach for some word substitutions.

Word Substitutions

It is so important to be mindful and listen to what words we are saying to ourselves and find positive substitutions. Below are some common phrases I’ve re-worded to support me in feeling and to become the type of person I want to be:

I’m Sorry (after bumping into someonePardon Me
I’m anxious to know

I’m eager to know
That’s a problemThere’s an opportunity
This is awful/a disaster/a problemIt’s ookay. No big deal. We’ll figure it out
Not good; I have to: If only I hadI get to; I choose to; Now I can

Look at the earlier example of my negative self-talk and how I shifted my words once I noticed it. Can you feel the difference? These substitutions make a big difference in how I see myself and how I show up in the world.

Watch your Words as they Reveal Who We Are and How We Act

The impact of Hardy’s simple words, “That’s okay,” demonstrates the power we yield when speaking to others. I and others felt calmer with his words.

But did you realize what we say to others is often a reflection of how we see ourselves and what we believe? Hardy and his “That’s okay” response is a perfect reflection of who he is and how he lives his life; peaceful, calm and wise.

Notice how these quotes reflect the personality of the person who spoke them:

  • “Nobody can make you feel inferior without your consent.” – E. Roosevelt
  • “Whether you think you can or think you can’t – you are right.” – H. Ford
  • “Life is either a daring adventure or nothing at all.” H. Keller

Tips on How to Watch your Words

To work wonders for your self-esteem, reduce stress, and support your ability to take constructive action to create a life you love to live:

  1. Listen to the words you use to speak to yourself
  2. Recognize them and note it in a journal
  3. When you catch yourself in negative self-talk, challenge yourself to create an opposite word or phrase that is positive and supportive
  4. Start to note how the words other speak reflect their personality and way of functioning in the world.

In summary, change your words, change your world.