Words are Powerful by Stuart MacEwan
It’s not ok to run yourself down. It’s wrong and it needs to stop. If this sounds confrontational, it’s only because this is something very important to talk about.
I had a friend show me a picture on her phone recently. It was a nice picture of her in a red dress. She was doing a commercial and it looked like a fun thing to do. Before she showed me the picture she told me “You’ll want to burn your eyes out after seeing me in this dress”. After a comment like that, my curiosity was piqued. What kind of awful picture was I going to see? It turned out that she looked lovely in the photo; I didn’t see anything terrible or wrong… just my friend looking happy in a nice red dress.
I have a client who works very hard in the studio. She shows up on time, ready to work and always gives it her best effort. She’s fun, engaging and has been making steady progress over the months. She’s a delightful person and the other members like greeting her when she’s here. I catch her saying things like “I suck at this exercise. I’m so weak. I’m your worst client. You must hate putting up with me”. I’m always a little surprised when she says these things. None of her comments are even close to being true. I like my client very much. She’s easy to get along with and I really respect her effort. As clients go, she’s a keeper.
I have many more stories like these that I can recount, but I think we get the point; I spend time with many women that use words that diminish who they are and what they can do. I think guys might do it too, but 99% of my clientele are female so I’m not totally sure.
I’ve had a long-standing policy of confronting this kind of negative self-talk when I hear it. It only takes a moment to address it, but the effects of our mini-conversation can last a lifetime. I like a gentle approach. I’ll ask her about the negative comment. I want to hear her thoughts. Was she aware of her comment? Did she know it was demeaning? Why did she choose those diminishing words? Then I let her know it’s not ok. My clients are very precious. They are unique and valuable. I wouldn’t let anyone else disparage my friends; that includes allowing them to do it to themselves.
Words are very powerful. They reveal everything about how we think and feel about others and ourselves. When a person says they ‘can’t’ do an exercise they just removed their ability to give it their best effort. To quote Henry Ford, “Whether you think you can or think you can’t, you’re right.” He was telling us that our attitude is everything when it comes to being our best self and succeeding at our efforts. To this point, our attitude is displayed in how we speak about ourselves.
My clients and I work on changing ‘I can’t’ to ‘it’s tough but I’ll to my best’. We change ‘I suck’ to ‘this is challenging for me’. ‘You hate me’ becomes ‘We’ll to it together’. ‘I’m weak’ turns into ‘I can do better”. Finally, ‘You’ll burn your eyes out’ blossoms into ‘I’m shy about this picture’. These choices of words reflect a different starting point in how we perceive our own value and worth.
This month, please pay extra attention to what you say about yourself. It’s not ok to run yourself down. You are far too important and relevant to quit on yourself before you even got a chance to discover just how wonderful you are.