The dialogue you use to describe yourself has a direct effect on how you feel about yourself and how other people feel about you.
In the book, "Words Can Change Your Brain," by Andrew Newberg, MD, and Mark Robert Waldman, they write, “A single word has the power to influence the expression of genes that regulate physical and emotional stress.”
Not only are you rewiring your brain, you're psyching yourself out — literally. So, STOP using the following phrases:
1. "I'm a screwup."
Nothing is forever (except maybe love, or a diamond). Missteps do not define you. Even if you've made 201 mistakes in your life, I'm sure you've made 300 non-mistakes. You wouldn't be alive to read this if you messed up every single time. That's just math.
Practice this: Esteem-able acts. The best way to gain self-esteem is action. Nobody cares about your intentions. Don't intend to do good. Just do it. Volunteer, treat your friends better, keep your promises. The more you follow through intentions with actions, the more your thoughts will follow your body.
2. "I can't counter-offer in salary negotiations."
A recent article from Harvard Business Review said that people generally don't counter-offer in salary negotiations. Women more so than men. You don't want to seem rude or greedy. You don't want to get fired. You don't think you deserve it. Well, you do.
In my experience, people who suffer from imposter syndrome (thinking you're a fraud, regardless of how much success you earn) are the ones who deserve everything. The thing people with low self-esteem have in common with narcissists is they both have a skewed perception of themselves.
Practice this: First, don't think of salary negotiations as a moral or emotional issue. Then, do some research on salary averages for your job in your city, document what you've accomplished in your role and write all of this down.
If you have a hard time with impromptu discussions, make a script, practice with a friend, then go in and do it by rote if you have to.
3. "I will stay single forever."
I'm not a fortuneteller, so maybe you will be single forever. I don't know. Or, you could NOT be single forever. Again, I don't know. But as I said earlier, nothing is forever. So chances are pretty good for you.
Practice this: Do at least one nice thing for yourself today. Take a bubble bath, make a nice meal or see a movie with a friend.
Like words, pampering or torturing yourself become habit. Change your habits. This sounds clichéd, but if you take care of yourself, it shows. People are drawn to people who have the ability to take care of their own needs.
4. "I'm sorry."
If you're a person who apologizes all the time, you're sort of self-absorbed. If everything that ever existed was always your fault, you'd be omnipotent. You're not. If you mess something up, apologize. But don't make an apology your default reaction.
Practice this: Every time you feel the need to apologize, take a breath and think about why you feel that way. If you find there's no reason for you to say you're sorry, then don't.
5. "I can't."
Why can't you? The answer is you can. Talking crap about yourself is exhausting. Once you stop, things start changing.
Practice this: Do some opposite-speak. Instead of saying, “I can't," say “I can,” or even “maybe I can?” That's a start.
If you have low self-esteem, you're most likely dehumanizing yourself in some way. When you say negative things to yourself, imagine you're saying that to your favorite person in the world. Would you talk to them like that?
You're just as human as everyone else. Re-humanize yourself by throwing these phrases away because sticks and stones may break your bones, but words can break your brain and your self-esteem.