Counsellor Sarah Barr looks at the power of words and why we should be aware of the negativity they can cause.

“Sticks and Stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me”

Remember this poem from your school days?

I think it should read more along the lines of this..

We all have that one ‘word’ that can trigger off a wave of negative emotion within us.

Maybe your word is ‘stupid’, ‘lazy’, ‘selfish’,’worthless’ or ‘unlovable’ . This ‘word’ could have first been heard as a child. Then every time you hear it you add another layer of belief to it. The negative words you use when talking to yourself can be so harsh and untrue. That you would never dream of saying these words to others. Negative self-talk impacts on your confidence and your relationships.

Words are powerful, certain words can trigger off your core belief about yourself. These words can be spoken by those closest to you; your family, your friends, your partner or your co-workers. This causes a lot of pain as you trust those people and you believe what they say.

However it is so important to remember if someone is speaking negatively to you, it says more about them than it does about you. You cannot control what they say to you but you can control your response.

How to identify your core beliefs

Identifying your core belief gives you an understanding of why certain words make you feel bad about yourself.

Finding your core belief is a bit like solving a mystery. Start by gathering clues, and words that trigger you off. Then ask yourself, ‘how does that word make you feel?’ and ‘have you felt this way before?’.

These hidden beliefs drive your behaviours and your habits. Changing your perspective can help in challenging your core beliefs. CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy) is a brilliant technique to help you do this.

Journal your thoughts

Writing down your thoughts is also a good place to start in identifying your core beliefs. Then going back a couple of years later and reading over what you wrote can be an even more effective process. This gives you a shift in perspective, looking at your beliefs or situation from a different viewpoint. This shift in point of view can be critical in how you see yourself and your beliefs.

Be aware of what you say

Many of the words you speak come out as an automatic reaction. When you are feeling angry or hurt, your filter may disappear. By being mindful of your own words and responses can reveal how you are really feeling.

At times you might blame your emotions on things like the traffic, weather or even a comment from someone. This is just examples of triggers to your own belief.

Being aware of how you are feeling and developing an understanding of why you feel like that can help you to deflect untrue and often hurtful words. Remember you have the choice in how you respond. Do not take on someone else’s bad mood or negative views.

It is often hard to see these beliefs as false because when we are emotional and upset they seem to be true. We wrongly use the weather, traffic or other people’s comments as the cause of why we feel this way. Not excusing negative and hurtful comments that others can make or saying that it is acceptable, because it is not. However you have the choice whether to believe them or not.

Trust yourself, You know yourself better than anyone.

The beliefs we hold about ourselves can be difficult to identify and break without some practice. Our minds work so fast and they are very good at coming up with different strategies to distract us away from uncomfortable emotions. We use different strategies to deal with negative thoughts and feelings such as humour, putting our head in the sand or deflecting what we feel onto other people.

Counselling can help you to identify and change your core beliefs, helping dissolve uncomfortable emotions and unhelpful behaviours. Being self-aware is the most important step. This can be developed through writing down your thoughts and being mindful of your words.

I can be contacted on 086 4477867 or through my Facebook page for further information or to book an appointment in Moville or Letterkenny.


Take Care ~ Sarah.