We all know the words we say to others matter. But sometimes we forget that the words we say to and about ourselves are equally important. We need to be careful about the way we describe who we are. If you wouldn’t assign a word to a friend or other loved one, you probably shouldn’t assign it to yourself, either. Keep scrolling for seven specific words that you should stop using to talk about Y-O-U.
1. Alone: If you’ve just gone through a breakup with a significant other, have experienced a loss in your family, or are just feeling generally down in the dumps, it can be tempting to feel — and even say — that you’re all alone. Remember, though, that if you’re sharing these feelings with a friend or other confidante, you’re far from lonely. If you feel lonely, stop thinking of yourself as alone and reach out for support. “Perhaps it would help to reach out or let people in your life know that you need something versus trying to figure it out alone,” licensed psychologist Sue Sexton says. “You are not alone!”
2. Stupid: Licensed marriage and family therapist Ibinye Osibodu-Onyali tells us that she hears this word all too often. “If you say to yourself that you are stupid, you will trigger a negative feeling about yourself, as well as negative thoughts about yourself,” Osibodu-Onyali says. “Too many negative thoughts can lead to a drop in self-confidence or self-esteem.” Give yourself a little credit. Allow the necessary room to make mistakes so that you can relieve the pressure you put on yourself and be a little more compassionate to yourself.
3. Lazy: “Too many of us call ourselves out when we can’t rise early to exercise, take on one more task at home or at work, or just keep up with someone else,” says Karen Azeez, certified holistic health coach and author of The Kindfulness Solution. “At this point, we should see if we just need more down time, sleep, motivation, or information instead of judging ourselves harshly.” Don’t conflate exhaustion or overwhelm with habitual laziness. You’re only lazy if you choose to be.
4. Just/Only: When asked what you do for a living or even for fun, don’t hedge your answer with the word “just” or “only.” You’re not “just” a student or “only” an assistant or spending your weekend “just” hanging out. Own who you are and what you do. “These qualifiers undermine your power and awesomeness, serve as an apology for something that requires one, and broadcast low self-esteem or fake humility,” says Nikki Bruno, a power coach, speaker, and author.
5. Sorry: Women, in particular, are in the habit of making themselves apologetic way too often. While saying that you’re sorry may seem harmless — maybe even polite — you probably say it more than necessary. Executive coach and Development Corps founder Kate Gigax encourages you to be mindful that you’re not saying sorry for things that aren’t yours to own. Consider replacing “I’m sorry” with “thank you.” For instance, try saying, “Thank you for your patience” instead of “I’m so sorry I’m late!”
6. Sensitive: “By labeling your thoughts and feelings as sensitive, you’re not only judging yourself, but you’re instantly negating your thoughts and feelings,” therapist and life coach Tess Brigham notes. “There’s nothing wrong with having emotions.” Even if you’re convinced that you have more feels than the average human, you don’t owe it to anyone to justify your behavior. Instead, allow yourself to experience those emotions, so you can move past them when you’re ready.
7. Hopeless: No matter how low you’re feeling or how much you feel you need to grow or improve, we ask you to never, ever label yourself this way… and the experts back us up. “Reinforcing that you’re growing and learning is a far more positive, motivating, and effective message than expecting mastery out of the gate and beating yourself up over it,” life and career coach Sally Anne Carroll says.
This article originally appeared on Brit + Co.