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Our Words Have Power (So Speak Kindly To and About Yourself)

“I monitor my self-talk, making sure it is supportive and uplifting for myself and others.” ~ Louise Hay

Three years ago, I ended up with no work in a foreign country. I was almost depressed, as I didn’t know what to say when people asked questions about my profession. The idea of making no income injected my mind with a wide repertoire of worries, fears, and concerns.

I was lost and stuck, and the way I was labeling myself at the time felt quite painful: unemployed. Not only did it look like I had a serious problem to deal with, I was starting to feel like I was a problem, myself.

We all perceive the reality of our experiences filtered through our own lenses, the expectations we set on ourselves and others, and our individual system of belief. To some people, being unemployed is a fact. Not good or bad, normal or abnormal, right or wrong. To me, it held a strong negative connotation. In a world that generally validates our self-worth through what we do for a living, being left with no work made me feel like a total failure.

Thanks to Wayne Dyer, one of the spiritual teachers who helped me grow into who I am today, I managed to change my perspective and see things in a much different light. Here’s what I remember him saying in an interview on YouTube: “Your only problem is your belief that you have a problem. When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.”

His words spoke to me from the inside out. It came like thunder: a wake-up call that was going to shift my entire experience. The moment I decided to look at the situation from another angle, everything changed.

I decided to eliminate the word “unemployed” from my vocabulary, and I went for more empowering words instead. I was “job hunting,” and “looking for better employment opportunities” while being “in transition to a new career.”

Those feelings of frustration and sadness, which came with a deep sense of unworthiness and identity loss, got replaced by a much cleaner space of possibilities, hope, and curiosity for a fresh start.

By changing my perspective and the language I was using to describe my experience, I stopped feeling like a victim. Things were not imposed on me any longer, and I had power.

All of a sudden, I could see the bright side of the situation. When I was busy with work, always running somewhere, working overtime to reach goals and fulfill my duties, I so much wanted to get more time. When I was left with no job, I accused life of being unfair. It wasn’t.

I realized I had all the time in the world—and what a precious gift that was, because time never comes back! I had enough savings to rely on and a supportive husband, as well. And I had a dream to pursue—to do soul work with people and make this world a much better place. One year later, I got certified as a coach.

Today, I know that was a real blessing in disguise. “Unemployed” was not a weakness, but an opportunity for me to grow professionally and build a new career from scratch.

I have also learned that failing with anything doesn’t make me a failure, because I am not what I do. Being left with no work was an experience, and it didn’t have to define me or lower my self-worth unless I allowed it to.

One more time, Wayne Dyer was right: I am a “human being,” not a “human doing.”

You see, the thoughts we think and the words we speak have tremendous power. Words are a form of energy, and their vibration has a high impact on the way we feel and think; they can either empower us or put us down.

I invite you to try the following exercise: think of a situation in your life that looks like a problem. Stay for a moment with that and get mindful of how that feels in your body.

Now, think of the same situation as if that was an issue or a topic for you to brainstorm, reflect, and deal with. Can you see the difference and how much lighter you feel?

You’ve done nothing else but replacing the word “problem” (which feels like a burden, something heavy for you to carry) with “issue” (much lighter, something that you could find a solution to).

When I was a child, my mother advised me always to pay attention to my words. “One can kill or save another with only one word,” she said. I didn’t get what she meant at that time, but now I do.

Looking back on my life, I came to realize I spent many years punishing myself with disempowering words about who I was. Thinking I wasn’t good enough, perceiving myself as a failure when I was making mistakes, taking myself for granted, unable to acknowledge my achievements, as if “anyone could do that” or “it wasn’t anything big or special.”

“Stupid me!” “I’m not good enough.” “I’ll never get this.” “This is too big for me.” “I am average.” That’s how the voices in my head used to sound.

Years later, thanks to the beautiful work of Louise Hay, I have learned that being mindful of my self-talk is one of the best forms of self-care and self-respect.

“You’ve been criticizing yourself for years, and it hasn’t worked. Try approving of yourself and see what happens.“ ~Louise Hay

I knew I would have never told my best friend what an idiot she was for doing this or saying that. And if she were to consider herself ugly or stupid, I would have never encouraged such an idea. I would have supported her in the best way I could.

It took me a while to understand how unfair I was to myself: talking to others kindly and showing them compassion while putting myself down every day. Just like everyone else, I was also a person, worthy of being seen and listened to, appreciated, understood, forgiven, respected, acknowledged, nurtured, and loved.

The day I stopped making myself small with my self-talk, my life transformed, and here’s what I know to be true today:

I am whatever I believe myself to be. If I think I am smart, beautiful, ugly, or stupid, that’s what my reality becomes. We all get to shape our own story by the way we feel, act, and think.

Besides that, I don’t have any weaknesses; I only have areas for growth.

While I am aware of the things I need to work on (do less and be more, become more patient and sometimes calmer, talk less and listen more and so on), the very fact that I have replaced the word “weakness” by “area for growth” is empowering. Like everyone else, I am on a journey called Life, and that’s all about learning.

My husband and I moved to Mexico a few months ago. We can understand Spanish, but neither of us can speak it. I could see this as a weakness, but I choose not to. This is nothing but an area for growth: we are both going to acquire new skills, expand our knowledge, and grow as individuals. We’ve already started to take lessons.

The words we use in our everyday life have power. They can either destroy or build relationships with ourselves and other people. Getting mindful of our self-talk is one of the best forms of self-love and self-compassion. Let us choose our words wisely.

Language shapes our behavior, and each word we use is imbued with multitudes of personal meaning. The right words spoken in the right way can bring us love, money, and respect, while the wrong wordsor even the right words spoken in the wrong waycan lead to a country of war. We must carefully orchestrate our speech if we want to achieve our goals and bring our dreams to fruition.” – Dr. Andrew Newberg, Words Can Change Your Brain

And now, I would like to hear from you. If there were one single disempowering word for you to eliminate from your vocabulary, what would that be?

About Sara Fabian

Sara Fabian is a women’s career and empowerment coach and inspirational speaker, on a mission to help professional women to discover their unique strengths, gifts and talents, boost their confidence, find their calling and live a meaningful life of purpose. For weekly inspiration, subscribe to her free newsletter at sarafabiancoaching.com or follow her on Facebook.

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  • Great post!! I really needed to read this tonight. I recently transitioned from a full time job to pursue a freelance career and it certainly has its ups and downs. People still considered me “unemployed” even though I was doing work, it’s just not traditional work. I tried not to let it bother me, but when work had its slow periods, I fell into some patterns of self-doubt and thinking I had a problem, similar to what you wrote about. But I am really trying to look at things in a different light, be kinder to myself, and know this is just part of the journey. Thank you for writing this!

  • Sara Fabian

    I can empathize with your sharing, Cassie. I’m glad it helps!

  • Wildflower

    This is so timely and resonates with me deeply. I’m currently in a transitory phase in my life and the universe consistently points me to these articles. I’ve also just had an epiphany re the conceptualisation of the phrase human being, one of my enduring philosophies is that we should just BE. Be still, Be in the moment, Be assured. Hence, I’m a human BEING.

  • Anthony La Rue

    Beautiful. Just what I needed. 🙂

  • Sara Fabian

    Thank you, Anthony. Blessings!

  • Sara Fabian

    Exactly. Societies have trained us to believe we are “human doings,” and distance us from our nature. I’m glad it helps. Blessings!

  • ‘Busy’ has been out of my vocabulary for about three years now: ‘occupied’, sometimes ‘fully occupied!’ or ‘engaged in’ have a much more relaxed and energising sound to them! Thanks for a great article #morewalklesstalk!

  • Sara Fabian

    Love this, Elizabeth! I can feel the difference, “busy” sounds so much heavier! Blessings!

  • Georgina Eli Fisher

    Hi Sara, thank you for your post, I very much need to continue to change my language from a negative one to a positive one. I hear you say it is about finding the positive from something, and yes that shapes the way my brain looks at something. I would like to remove the word ‘failure’ from my vocabulary to ‘success’. I often think of myself as a failure for having been a drug addict, I am not a failure as I am in recovery having been for over 2 years. I am a success and am continuing to work on myself every day. I often fall into the trap of negativity and berate myself for my past mistakes, instead of kindly asking myself what I learnt, and moving on. In the same way as you, I would not speak to a friend in the way I often speak to myself. I need to stop berating myself, and change my vocabulary. To give myself positive affirmations instead of negative ones.

  • veena kapadia

    Some of the words !
    1)What will people think?
    2)I am ugly

  • Sara Fabian

    Thank you for sharing, Georgina. If you failed with anything in life it doesn’t make you a failure, because you are not what you do. Your life experience as a drug addict belongs to the past. It’s part of the “story.” However, your past circumstances do not have to define you, and you can always recreate a life of your design. Carl Jung expressed it beautifully: “I am not what happened to me; I am what I choose to become.”
    In case the word “success” doesn’t fully resonate with you, I suggest to replace “I am a failure” by “I am enough” and see what happens. Blessings!

  • Sara Fabian

    Thank you for sharing!
    1. What will people think?
    Whatever people think of you (that you are smart, stupid, ugly or beautiful and so on) is all about them and has zero to do with you. We all see people filtered through our own lenses, personal expectations and system of belief. Any form of feedback is nothing but a personal opinion and not the absolute truth.
    2. I am ugly.
    This is nothing but your self perception and not the absolute truth. You can always decide what to believe about yourself – we create our reality by the way we think. “You are what you believe.” (Buddha) Decide you are gorgeous and see what happens. Blessings!

  • veena kapadia

    Thanks for ur wonderful reply.
    I am going thru a worst phase.
    Nothing is working.
    No affirmations no positivity nothing.

    Wht to do

  • Sara Fabian

    We all have ups and downs in life and I believe there is a solution for everything. I suggest you work with a counsellor or a coach you feel that you resonate with. Such work with Self is transformational.

  • veena kapadia

    Do u train ?

  • Ramit Kapoor

    Really nice!!

  • RavenRandom

    Positive self-talk is very important. Be your own supportive best friend. Thanks.

  • Great post! We are what we think! We can never (and will never) control what others say or do, but we can control how we react and the things we tell ourselves.

  • Stella Smith

    thanks for sharing this! As I have read in the Consumer Health Digest, being negative can rally cause a lot of anxiety and depression to a person. Thanks for this, I hope to get myself help