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  • Words Matter: The Power of Language in Mental Wellness

    Have you ever blurted something out – and then wished you hadn’t?

    In a world where communication is constant and instantaneous, it’s easy to overlook the impact of our words. We often speak without thinking, unaware of the profound influence our language has on our own well-being and the well-being of those around us. As a matter of fact, words have the power to profoundly change our brains.

    So, as we observe Words Matter Week, it might be a good idea to reflect on the significance of the words we choose to use – and how they shape our thoughts, emotions, and relationships with other people.

    How Words Affect Emotions

    Words aren’t just a way of communicating. They’re also vessels of emotion and meaning. How and when we use them can make a world of difference. Think about how even a simple phrase can evoke joy and comfort – or anger and sadness, depending on the context. And in the same way, our internal dialogue, the way we speak to ourselves, significantly impacts our self-esteem and emotional state. When we engage in negative self-talk, we subconsciously reinforce feelings of inadequacy and self-doubt.

    In contrast, practicing self-compassion and using affirming language can cultivate resilience and self-confidence, which in turn equips us to deal far more easily with challenging people or circumstances.

    Consider how statements like these to change the way you feel:

    • I believe in myself
    • I forgive myself for my past mistakes
    • I am capable, strong, and in control of my own happiness

    Doesn’t that already feel better?

    The Pitfalls of Self-Criticism and Criticism of Others

    Self-criticism is an all too common habit – and it’s one that we all fall into, often without even realizing what we’re doing. Isn’t it strange how we can so often overlook minor faults in others yet are incredibly hard on ourselves for even the smallest things?

    When we constantly criticize or scold ourselves for perceived shortcomings, we perpetuate a cycle of negativity that erodes our mental well-being. Your subconscious mind can interpret criticism as being truth, or even as being an instruction! That means we need to be really mindful about the way we react when we make a mistake, forget something, or “fail” at something.

    You see, the subconscious mind is responsible for something called the homeostatic impulse. Very simply, this means that it will work to maintain a steady level of whatever we consider to be normal and comfortable – and if our self-talk constantly describes ourselves as being less worthy, that’s what it will bring about!

    In the same way, criticizing others not only damages relationships but also reflects our own insecurities and biases. By fostering a culture of kindness and understanding, we create an environment where people feel valued and supported by the words we choose to speak.

    The Importance of Thoughtful Speech

    We live in an incredibly fast-paced world where it’s easy to succumb to impulsive speech. It’s easy to react instantly or automatically to situations without considering the consequences of our words.

    But rushing to judgment or speaking without due consideration can lead to misunderstandings, hurt, and conflict. By cultivating a mindful approach and practicing intentional speech, we develop deeper connections with those around us. Taking the time to pause, reflect, and choose our words mindfully not only allows us to express ourselves authentically, but also communicates the fact that we value what the other person is saying – even if we disagree.

    The Benefits of Slowing Down and Being Mindful

    By consciously slowing down our speech, we create space for greater awareness and insight into our thoughts and emotions in that moment. And, when we speak more thoughtfully, we’re communicating with greater respect, empathy and understanding.

    We live in a society where a snappy comeback is often seen as a sign of dominance – especially when it comes to social media. That’s not always helpful, though, especially if we’re genuinely seeking to be heard and have our opinions respected.

    One of the problems with impulsive speech is that we’re tricking our brains into rewarding us with a hit of dopamine when we say something that we think makes us appear wittier or more intelligent or more assertive. And in a conflict situation, we often try to justify it by believing that the other person deserved the burn or the crushing remark. But it’s a reaction that can ruin relationships, create totally unnecessary stress, and self-sabotage our own mental health.

    So What Is Mindful Communication, Really?

    Mindful communication is rooted in empathy, active listening, and non-judgmental awareness. By approaching conversations with openness and curiosity, we create an atmosphere of trust and mutual respect. Mindful communication involves not only listening to others but also being attuned to our own thoughts and emotions. By acknowledging our internal reactions without judgment, we can respond thoughtfully rather than react impulsively.

    (Does that sound just like the kind of good advice you’d receive in a couples therapy session? There’s a reason for that!)

    Words Matter Week is a great reminder of the profound impact language has on our lives. One of the best ways to put this into practice is to carry something with you as a visual reminder – maybe a small token you carry or wear, or a picture on your phone’s lock screen. The idea is simply to be aware of that reminder every time you engage in conversation, with others or yourself.

    Be kind. Be thoughtful.

    And, although it’s not always easy, it’s a good idea to remember that deep inner peace – a hallmark of great mental health – is rooted in habits like gratitude, forgiveness, and presence.

    Want to Share Some Words With Us?

    At My Therapy ConnectionTM, we’re experts when it comes to the power of words. Our goal is to support, encourage, provide the right tools, and work toward healing and restoration with those we serve.

    Sometimes, it can be difficult to break out of patterns and cycles that aren’t helpful in our lives – and for that, we’re here to help you. We offer a free, no-obligation introductory call, where you can ask questions, discover the benefits of professional therapy, and to discuss how we can best assist you.

    Want to find out more? Reach out and contact us today!