The Power of Words: Part I Self-Love

The Power of Words will be an ongoing series, beginning with today's Self-Love post.

Sticks and stones can break my bones, but words can never hurt me

We've all heard this, and may have, at one time, even believed it.  One really hurtful insult may have shattered the notion, however, that you were, in fact, invincible to the power of words.  Words are important.  They help us communicate and interact.  They allow us to express our thoughts and feelings.  When words are negative and hurtful, they can affect the world around us.  They are specifically harmful when they are negative or hurtful about ourselves.  This is especially important when we consider that our actions are directly influenced by our thoughts.

One way to develop mindfulness is to shift your thoughts and work on positive self-talk (or as the poet Taylor Mali said in his poem "Silver-Lined Heart," self-love).  Corralling your disappointments and doubts and exchanging them for positive thoughts will inspire positive change.  This will empower us to grow and progress.

"Make sure your worst enemy doesn't live between your own two ears," said Laird Hamilton, an American big-wave surfer.  What a beautiful and powerful notion.  How often, though, do we allow our thoughts to say things we would never accept from someone else?  How many times have you heard your inner dialogue spew hate and distain, rather than support and praise?  This quote is a wonderful reminder to be kinder to yourself.  You deserve to feel good and to love yourself.  As we've determined, the way you treat others, including yourself, is a choice.

The best way to eliminate hateful thoughts is to acknowledge and identify those thoughts.  As soon as you are able to do this, you will be able to replace these thoughts with positive ones.  Also, identifying why you have the thoughts will help you to substitute in positive affirmations.  For example, "I can't do this..." or "I'll never be good at that..." may simply be unfounded.  Determine which of your thoughts are negative intentionalizing and which are based in reality.

Even when talking with yourself, just as you would try to be polite and considerate of others' feelings, you can develop ways to be kind with your words--and therefore love yourself in the process.  You might say, "I'm going to try my best at this..." or "I am getting stronger/ better everyday..."  This is not a suggestion that you delude yourself into developing an alternate reality or fantasy world where you are never going to face challenges.  Instead, cultivating a positive attitude will encourage a host of positive outcomes, such as: you may find you handle stress better, your body's immunity actually improves, or you may discover your overall well-being improves.

One way to start loving yourself today is to give yourself reminders.  When my students had to memorize poems to present in class, I would suggest they print out their self-selected poems and post them up somewhere to read them several times a day.  A perfect spot might be your bathroom mirror.  If you brush your teeth twice a day, you are guaranteed to have seen the posted message twice that day.  If you write yourself one note--or several--you can begin to shift your inner dialogue and improve your self-esteem.

Some examples of these types of messages include:

- I am beautiful/ kind.
- I am fun/ funny/ good at _________.
- I inspire _________.
- I choosing to work everyday to grow stronger.
- I deserve to be happy.

If you don't feel comfortable physically posting notes to yourself, find a more subtle way to give yourself these reminders.  Perhaps you can change the background of your phone or computer, maybe you can write it in your calendar.  Make your thoughts a priority and you will see a return.

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