Julie often called herself names. Not names like Jules, or Mrs Jones, but names like “stupid” and “thicko”. She did it when she was with friends and makes self-deprecating jokes because everyone loves someone who pokes a bit of fun at themselves. It makes them more loveable, right? Well, that’s where it started but it’s not where it ended.
When Julie was angry or frustrated she wanted to express her disappointment in herself or her behaviour. In other words, she gave herself a good telling off. It didn’t stop with a telling off. The words took on a life of their own, and soon enough the telling off grew into verbal self-abuse. And the language? The language was horrific.
When she forgot to reply to an email she wasn’t a “silly moo” but a “Thick twat that shouldn’t be allowed near the internet let alone run a business…”
Zoe, a good friend, and a coach, finally called Julie out on this habit. She said, “I don’t know if you’re aware of the way you speak about yourself but spoken words have more power than you’re aware of. How you speak to yourself is how you act.”
Like Julie, you may not realise it, but your words impact every area of your life and they can wound you for years to come and limit your potential in a variety of ways. In this article, we'll explore some of the ways that words work, and how you can make them work for you.
Your Words Impact Your Confidence
When she was feeling good about herself, Julie used encouraging words to describe herself. She focused on self-care and body love when she had a victory moment like mastering complex graphics for her website or getting a big project done on time.
But those diamond-like moments were rare. Most of the time, Julie nit-picked what she did and constantly looked for flaws in herself and in her work. As a result, these negative words eroded her confidence and she often found herself feeling shame and following that comes the overwhelming desire to hide.
Your Words Impact Your Attitude
The most dreaded words in the human language?
“We need to talk…”
How do you feel when someone says that to you. How do you feel when you say those words? I bet you can recall when you've said that phrase and the other person looks hurt before you say another word.
How you approach a difficult conversation can be impacted by the words you use beforehand. For example, if you say that you’re headed back to the mines before you go to work on your marketing, you’re going to associate the task with pain and drudgery.
But if you say that you’re off to work on the exciting adventure that is your business, you’re more likely to approach your content creation with energy and enthusiasm. This doesn’t mean that everything you create during that session will be pure gold. However, you’re more likely to be happy with your work and enjoy the process if you approach it with the right outlook.
Your Words Create Your Level of Success
Julie’s friend Karen was going back to school to become a nurse. She wanted to be the top of the class because she loves nursing. But she often found herself saying things like, “I’m not smart enough to handle the workload” or “I don’t have the brains in the family, I got the looks instead”.
Again, someone recognised this negative self-talk and flagged it up. She explained, “Your words create your level of success in your life. If you speak as though you’re not going to finish your nursing course, you will believe that truth and live it out. Even if you don’t want to.”
The words you speak dictate your level of success—whether in your work, your relationships, or your hobbies. You can only go as far as you believe is possible in life and in business.
As Henry Ford once said, “whether you can or you can’t, you’re right”.
Your Words That Heal Instead of Hurt
Petra grew up with parents who were in and out of prison. She was frequently placed into care where she felt solitary and lonely. When Petra got older, she viewed herself as broken and worthless. If her parents didn’t want her, and the State didn’t care for her, why would anyone else? Her experience shaped her language and kept her small.
She too was encouraged to look at herself differently. Her fiance said: “The beautiful thing about a mosaic is that broken glass and tiles can be made into a new work of art with time and your imagination.”
Petra slowly began to change the way she spoke about herself. She no longer used the word broken, choosing instead to say that she was a work in progress, a masterpiece not yet complete. The more she began to speak these words and phrases, the less anxious she felt.
Your Words Create Habits
As Karen, the aspiring nurse, learned more about how her words affected her, she started paying attention to the ones she had around her habits. For example, she tended to say things that include:
- I always overeat.
- I can’t be on time to save my life.
- I never make it to the gym.
Since she was challenging herself to create new habits, she decided to play with the words she used. When she found herself saying one of the three sentences above, she reframed them with a positive slant…
- I’m learning self-control when it comes to portions.
- I’m working to leave the house 10 minutes early.
- I make the gym a priority.
The more she focused on changing her words, the more they came to life. Pretty soon, Karen had a host of new, healthy habits that were fueling her body so she could reach her goal of becoming a nurse.
Your Words Produce Peace & Calm
Your words have a profound effect on your emotional state, too. Using certain words can alter your perception of events. For example, you could say, “I’m furious that my food is cold.”
With this statement, you’re focusing on a strong emotion (fury) over a minor problem that doesn’t fully deserve this reaction. But what would happen if you changed your words? You could say, “I’m annoyed that my food is cold.”
The verbs you choose determines your emotions. If you choose mild words, you’re less likely to blow up over something seemingly small like a cold item of food.
Of course, when being mindful of the words you use in your self-talk, remember you verbalise things without thinking. There's someone reading this right now thinking “They're lucky to have food. There's someone in the world starving right now and all they can do is complain”.
Your Words Give You Space to Grow
It’s easy to talk about yourself in absolutes that don’t leave you open to new possibilities. For example, when Julie was struggling to grow her business, she often said, “I’ll never hit six-figures and be successful like my friends.”
The business coach she hired challenged Julie on her use of the word never. “Never is a long time. Are you sure you want to apply that word to your situation?”
Negative absolutes (like never and always) can leave you feeling trapped and defeated when you use them. If you find yourself saying them a lot, pause and ask yourself. “Is this a statement that I want to be true about my life or business?”
If you truly want to grow into your best self, you must be willing to give up the mindsets that keep you small. I understand the words have served you. In Petra’s case by being small and not drawing attention to herself she avoided the bullies and mean kids in the care home. But she’s moved on from that space, she’s living a different life now, so the language she uses has to adapt. This means making friends with your inner voice, your ego, the very thing that’s keeping you small. Thank her for her input then suggest that she sit down quietly because you have work to do.
Your Words Determine the Results You Get
Your words create your reality. They also determine the results you get. If you go to take a test in one of your courses and you say you’ll fail, chances are high that you will. It doesn’t matter that you spent all night studying or that you know the material backward and forwards., you've talked yourself out of the result. This is known as self-sabotage.
Jess, on the day of her driving test felt nervous. She was dropped off at her mum's house. Instead of talking about her nerves, and how she'd practiced hard for this test and was going to pass, she picked a fight with her mother. Jess knew what buttons to press, and she pressed them. 90 minutes later, an angry and bitter Jess failed her driving test but in her mind she knew it wasn't her fault; it was her mother's fault for failing her.
Your mind is incredibly powerful. It manifests what you say, regardless of whether what you said was positive or negative. This means you will always experience the outcomes you predict, even when they’re painful or the reverse of what you're outwardly expressing.
However, there is some good news. You can change the results you get and the experiences you have by changing your words. If you approach the next test with confidence and the same dedication, you’re likely to ace it. Why? Because you believed it was possible, so your mind went to work to make it happen.
Your words are your most powerful resource in content marketing.
They can be a weapon you use to hurt yourself and limit your potential. Or they can be an amazing tool you can use to harness to create more of what you want in your life and business. Words can make your content inspirational or a warning.
The most wonderful thing with words is that you get to choose them. You can choose the words that will accelerate your business or you can choose words that will keep you in the slow lane, or even move you to the hard shoulder.
Need help choosing the right words? Book a call