I hate my job. I’m so unlucky. It’s not fair. I should be… I wish I was more… I’m so tired I can’t see straight. I can’t cope. I can’t stick to anything. Why does it have to be so hard?
All this has poured out of my mouth over the past couple of weeks. And it’s left a bitter taste in my mouth.
The way I talk, the words I choose, are negatively affecting the way I perceive and handle life’s challenges. When I say it’s hard, it is hard. When I say I’m so tired, I feel exhausted. When I say I can’t cope, I don‘t cope.
Are you choosing language that helps or hinders your happiness? Here are five fixes to help you talk yourself into feeling better.
1. Drop the word “should” from your vocabulary
“Should” is a destructive word. Every time you say “should” you’re saying “I am not enough”. So drop it. Use “could” instead — “could” gives you back your power by giving you a choice.
2. Use positive self-talk
According to Michelle Austin, ACT Academy of Sport Psychologist, positive self-talk (“I’m amazing.” “I can do this”) is associated with better athletic performance. Positive self-talk impacts on an athlete’s self-confidence, anxiety control, concentration and mood. It works for people who don’t wear Lycra too. If it feels alien, talk to yourself the way you’d encourage a child. You’d never tell a kid who was learning to ride a bike that they were crap and would never be able to do it. Unless you’re an evil child-hating meanie. If you’re not, be kind to yourself.
3. Act, think and talk like a child
Talking of kids, I caught my 4-year-old doing karate moves and pouting in front of the mirror yesterday. I asked him what he was doing. He said “I’m looking at myself being cool. Do you wish you had skeleton pyjamas like me mum?” Indeed I did. I wished I could be just like him in fact — full of confidence in his own awesomeness. Kids don’t waste time on self doubt and they tell themselves they’re amazing. They’re pretty smart. Don’t wait for someone else to tell you how awesome you are. Tell your awesome self. Be 4 years old. Be epic.
4. Use positive affirmations
The Secret has given affirmations a bad name. They seem a bit like self-delusion. But be open minded and giveaffirmations a go. Start slowly. Pick one thing that’s challenging you, look in the mirror and make a positive statement about it (out loud please). Maybe you feel overwhelmed? Say “I am grateful that I am in demand and I take on tasks with energy and enthusiasm.” Too much? Why not just “I am perfect exactly as I am”? Keep at it. Do it once a day for a week. You’ll feel like a dick for the first two or three days. Then it’ll start feeling good.
5. Choose who you talk to
Be discerning about who you discuss your hopes and dreams and loves with. Negativity is as contagious as stress. If someone shoots you down with negative words, remember that it’s their issue, not yours. And don’t talk to toxic people about stuff that really matters to you. Surround yourself with people who are positive and who empower you with encouragement and loving words.
For many of us, negative language and self-talk is a long-term habit. A habit that’s hard to break. But by being aware of the way you use words and language, you can take steps to change.
Make positive language your new habit. Practise it. Commit to it.
It’ll make you feel better. Even if you don’t have skeleton pyjamas.
Think before you talk drawing by sam brown, explodingdog.
You are awesome, from whom do you think your 4 year old inherited it?
Now I just need some of those skeleton pyjamas and I’ll be sorted!