I love words. I love the way I can weave them together to share the stories and ideas that bring me joy.
Words build bridges and create connections. Sadly, they can also put immovable and impenetrable barriers between people.
The most damaging words, I believe, are the harmful words we tell ourselves, based on our fears.
I’m talking about the things we tell ourselves which crush our confidence. Say, when we have a big dream, but the fear of not reaching it steps in, so we convince ourselves the situation we have settled for is the best thing for us.
Have you ever wondered how at one moment, you might feel you are ready to accomplish anything in the world, and very quickly, another side of you starts to tell you all the reasons why you couldn't, so you stay put? Do you find this cycle exhausting?
Words like “I can’t”, or “I’m not good/smart/brave/likeable enough” hold us captive and stop us from recognising our unique strengths, Inner Genius and authentic selves which are actually more amazing and valuable than many of our learned skills combined.
I recently met another lover of words, a Communications Director named Ros, who attended my Discover Your Inner Genius program.
Ros by any means was a brilliant and smart high-achiever. On the surface, things looked positive. She enjoyed many successes throughout her career and received high praise for her achievements. Yet she still had deep-seated self-doubts which held her back from having a more meaningful and joyful career and life.
Ros held onto past experiences of rejection and exclusion as social proof of her worthlessness, rather than see it for what it was – a fleeting moment in her life and a lesson in resilience.
This inner barrier was always there casting a shadow over her self-belief. She admitted she always trusted the negative, self-destructive words inside her head much more than any praise from her peers.
How often do we allow our past experiences to hold us back?
Being connected and gaining acceptance is hugely important to many of us. Rejection is one of the biggest fears, even for people at the pinnacle of their careers.
The fear of rejection is a powerful influencer. It leads us to judge ourselves by what others think, and strive for other people’s ambitions for us.
Ros told me this fear went hand-in-hand with a fixed mindset. In her field of communications, she loved story-telling. “It’s funny, but I never realised my own fixed ideas and internal stories about being worthless were just so wrong. I needed to re-write them.”
The words she told herself were fixed too: “I can’t”, “I’m the problem” or “it’s always the same”. Lately, it’s become “I’m too busy/I don’t have time”.
To avoid rejection and disconnection Ros became an over-functioning people-pleaser. All her focus, time and energy was about fulfilling everyone else’s needs and priorities.
“My biggest challenge was spending my time more wisely, focused on the things that really mattered to me.”
“The moment of clarity came when I realised it was the words and stories I was telling myself – not the work/life juggle – that prevented me doing the things which make me truly happy. I have all these strengths and yet I still believed I had to prove my worth and be all things to all people. I was crazy.”
“I’ve stopped listening to the negative self-talk and started to accept my strengths and gifts are unique and valuable. What a difference it’s made! I also know what words will deactivate the power of self-doubt so I can get on with creating the career and life I want."
Words have a powerful influence on our thought and behaviour. Choosing the right words makes a huge difference to our life.
When we stop using the words that trapped us in an unhappy place and transform our mindset to appreciate our unique strengths and gifts, we will re-energise our career, life goals and relationships, creating daily happiness. Try it!
How have you used words to empower or disempower your career and life lately?
I would love to hear your comments.
Thanks, Yu Dan