The Importance Of Using Positive Language (& Why Negative Words Truly Hurt)

Whether they're spoken, written, or simply thought, words are more powerful than most people believe. You probably remember the old schoolyard saying, "Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can never hurt me." Unfortunately, that well-intentioned advice doesn't quite hold up in reality. As many of us know, words can definitely hurt when they come from other people. But we tend to be less aware of the effect that our own words can have on ourselves.

If you've ever browsed through the wellness section of TikTok, you might have seen users like @barenutritionhealth swearing off saying harmful phrases about themselves that are all too common. In one video, the holistic nutrition coach revealed that she will no longer be saying, "I'm dying," when she's experiencing a fit of laughter. Because even when used as hyperbole or sarcasm, language is important. There's a good reason why you should strive to use positive language when talking about yourself and others. And along the same lines, it's vital to avoid negative self-talk (even if you think you're just kidding).

Why we should use positive language

The belief that our language can significantly impact our experience is grounded in multiple schools of thought. According to Healthline, positive self-talk can lead to an increase in positive emotion and motivation. It can also boost your productivity and your self-confidence. The words that you think about yourself, and subsequently say out loud, actually frame your beliefs about yourself and can then lead to self-fulfilling prophecies, per Cleveland Clinic. For example, if you often tell yourself that you're getting promoted, you're more likely to act in ways that will attract positive attention from your boss. The same logic applies to negative self-talk, which can result in more negative emotions, reduced productivity, and a lack of motivation.

The theory of the Law of Attraction states that you will attract experiences into your life based on your emotional vibration, which is governed by your thoughts and words. The concept proposes that everything in the universe has its own vibration, and similar vibrations attract one another. So to attract love into your life, you need to be emitting the vibration of having love already. When you have positive thoughts and use positive language, you feel better, which raises your vibration and attracts better things to you.

This theory also explains why believers in the Law of Attraction are wary of using negative language. Just as you can attract positive experiences with positive words and feelings, so too can you attract negative experiences with negative words and feelings.

How to change your self-talk habits

If you're in the habit of saying negative things about yourself, it can be difficult to break. The first step is always awareness. Pay attention to the thoughts you have (especially the ones that you voice out loud), without trying to stop or change them. Just accept that you're still in the first stage of observing your habits without judgment. It can help to keep a notebook and jot down all negative comments, even when they're jokes. This may open your eyes to how much negative language you're actually using.

Practice this for long enough and you'll soon be able to immediately recognize harmful self-talk. Then you can start trying to transform this language into something more positive. When you're used to saying horrible things about yourself, even in jest, it can feel strange to reframe those statements. If you're finding it hard, you can aim for statements that are neutral, and slowly work your way up to positive language.

For example, if you're used to saying "I hate my body," it might be asking too much to switch it up to "I love my body." Instead, try something like "I accept my body" or "My body works as it's supposed to." Make the effort to replace every negative statement you make about yourself until it feels natural not to use negative language at all. Repeating positive affirmations frequently can help you to change your thinking before you even begin to utter something negative.