Be Careful of the Words You Keep

Negative words are more destructive than you realize.

“Never finish a negative statement; reverse it immediately, and wonders will happen in your life.” — Joseph Murphy

The words you say to yourself matter.

A simple change in vocabulary can change your reality. When you say negative things, self-limiting beliefs take root. When you say positive things, only blue sky awaits.

I noticed the insidious nature of negative words as an athletic coach years ago.

Do these words sounds familiar?

  • I suck!

  • I can’t do that!

  • This is too hard.

  • I’m just not good enough.

I hear them often at the dawn of every season. New athletes unintentionally spread little seeds of negativity all over the field. Each word is like a weed crowding out healthy grass.

Negativity isn’t limited to mere words. Body language accompanies them like an unruly friend.

Do these reactions sound familiar?

  • Slumped shoulders

  • A deep sigh of disgust

  • Crying out or actual crying

  • Throwing equipment in frustration

  • A face with a frown and a faraway look

Words and body language translate directly from practice to games. When a team slumps, this is always the cause. The same is true in your personal life. If you encounter a string of bad luck, look closely at your words and body language.

Try some tricks I use with my athletes...

  • Use the powerful qualifier, YET. “I’m not where I want to be yet, but I will be. Let's get after it!”

  • Replace negative words with something like “again!” or “I’ve got this!”

  • Instead of slumping your shoulders, get fierce and focus.

  • Find joy in the path to mastery. Learn to diagnose your own mistakes and enjoy each improvement.

  • Jump to the support of others. When a teammate or fellow traveler falls, be there with words of encouragement. Those words reflect back on you.

  • If you hear a negative word, say “that word isn’t in our vocabulary!” And so it shall be.

The beginning of every comeback begins with positivity. Choose your words and body language carefully to repel the bad and attract the good. Make it a habit.


🤔 Food for Thought:

Did you realize just how destructive a single negative thought could be?

Do you remember your last negative word or reaction?

Can you think of other tricks to reverse negativity?


⚙️ One Small Step:

Keep a log for one day of every negative thought, word and act. What is the result? I was shocked at my own frequency of negativity in just one day. You can repeat the same exercise with negativity you hear and observe from others.

Now pick one situation where you responded negatively that is likely to happen again soon. Plan a simple, positive response and practice a few times. You can even practice with another person for some added fun.

Look for this situation and throw out your positive response. Do it with gusto! Do it again... and again... and again until it becomes habit. Then look for the next bit of negativity to attack.