Well-Being Canada Staff | 10/05/2024 | 2 minutes

Words matter. Even the ones we think. 

Thoughts can shape your reality. Thoughts can shape your reality.

The language we use is about more than just communication; it’s a powerful tool that shapes our thoughts, emotions and overall mental health.  

Whether spoken aloud or silently in our minds, words have a profound impact on how we perceive ourselves, others and the world around us. Research has shown that language can significantly influence our mental well-being in various ways. 

For example, negative self-talk, characterized by self-criticism and pessimism, has been linked to increased levels of stress, anxiety and depression.  

Using positive and affirming language in our self-talk, however, can promote self-confidence, resilience and a more optimistic outlook on life.  

By consciously choosing to replace negative self-talk with more self-compassionate language, we can cultivate a greater sense of self-acceptance and emotional resilience. 

The same is true when it comes to the language we use in our interactions with others – it can also impact the quality of our relationships. Research has shown that engaging in empathetic and supportive communication can enhance feelings of connection, trust and emotional support. On the other hand, using hostile or critical language in our interactions can lead to conflict, stress and feelings of alienation. 

Words also matter when it comes to how society feels, in general, about mental health. Stigmatizing language and harmful stereotypes can perpetuate misconceptions, shame and discrimination, leading people to not seek help or access treatment. 

But, by using more respectful words when we talk about mental health, we can help reduce stigma, promote inclusivity and encourage individuals to seek support without fear of judgment.  

It’s not about self-censorship. We’re all free to think what we want, to ask questions and learn new things. 

But it’s about understanding that our words and the stories we tell ourselves matter.  

If we want to feel better, we have to treat ourselves better.  

If we want better relationships, we have to use language that respects them.  

If we want to make mental health more accessible, we have to stop talking about it in negative terms. 

So, think about the words you use. By choosing language that promotes positivity, empathy and understanding, we can enhance our well-being and contribute to a more compassionate society. 

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