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The Language of Love

Have you ever stopped to notice how you speak to yourself? What kind of language do you use? Are you kind and caring or critical and punishing? Where did you learn to talk to yourself in this way? Most often the way you speak to yourself mirrors the way you were spoken to as a child or by the people you surround yourself with now. If someone constantly tells you that you are worthless and undeserving of love, then you start to internalise this and it becomes a script by which you then live the rest of your life.

The vocabulary you use in relation to yourself is an important factor in self-care and driving positive self-esteem. The good news is that by changing your language you can also change your attitude, beliefs and behaviours.

How many times do you hear your self saying "I should...", "I must...", "I need to..." or "I have to..."? When you use these words you immediately place a huge weight of responsibility, pressure and urgency upon yourself. If you fail to do these things, you may reprimand yourself for having failed and may be left with feelings of guilt, disappointment or worthlessness. This vocabulary is also most likely to leave you feeling anxious, overwhelmed and powerless...I know I can feel my own stress levels rising when I think about all the things 'I need to do!'.

A lot of the work I do with clients is about helping them to reflect on the language they use towards themselves and to speak in a more positive, encouraging and nurturing way. How do you become your own nurturing parent?

  • Replace 'I should...' or 'I must...' with 'I can...': when you use the words 'should' or 'must' you automatically imply that there is a right or wrong way of doing things. It can also leave you feeling that you are not in control or good enough. When you replace 'should' or 'must' with 'can', you begin to realise that you have a choice in how you do or respond to things and that you have more power and control over situations and indeed your life.

  • Replace 'I have to...' or 'I need to...' with 'I choose to...' or 'I want to...': saying to yourself 'I have to...' or 'I need to...', suggests that you have no control over your own decisions and this straight away places you in the role of victim. You are therefore more likely to be led by others and look to them for your own sense of validation. When you instead use 'I choose to...' or 'I want to...' you are automatically empowering yourself to choose your own path in life and take responsibility for your own actions.

  • Shift the balance of focus from what you can't do to what you can do: Taking the self beating stick out every time you fail to achieve or get something wrong, just reinforces the feelings of not being good enough. Instead, try to shift your focus to what you 'can do' and start to identify the positive traits and attributes which enable you to succeed in achieving something positive. Write them down in a notebook and congratulate yourself every time you demonstrate one of those positive traits or do something that went well.

  • Apply positive affirmation: if you are able to affirm your love for others, why not start applying that you to yourself? Start every day with the repetition of one or more positive affirmations, for example, 'I am worthy of love and attention' or 'I deserve to be happy'. You might want to write them down and put them on the front of the fridge or the bedroom wall. Every day that you say this affirmation you will find yourself believing it that little bit more. Affirmations actually rewire your brain to generate positive thoughts more easily.

Finally, don't forget to reinforce your new 'language of self-love' with positive and nurturing behaviours. Eat well, exercise, create time for self-care and start to set boundaries that help you to prioritise your needs.

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