Watch Your Language

– It Can Affect Your Mental Health

Key points:

  • Language is powerful. Becoming aware of when we misuse it can be helpful
  • Used badly, language may fuel anxiety, depression and pain
  • Used well, language can give us back a sense of control and help us cope

“I’ve had a terrible day.” These were Petra’s first words to me when we spoke on the phone. Petra is a longstanding friend, so I didn’t rush to commiserate and say how awful that must have been for her. Instead, I said, “What happened?”

“Well,” she said, with a lugubrious sigh. “Michaela hasn’t rung. I was waiting all day and it made me go into one of my states, thinking no one really cares about me.”

Michaela is Petra’s daughter, who lives in Australia. “Isn’t she arriving on Saturday?” I asked.

“Yes. But she said she would ring midweek.”

“It may have slipped her mind. She must be very busy, with that promotion at work and making all the arrangements for coming over here.”

“She does have a lot on.”

“And she clearly cares very much about you, Petra, coming all the way over here, just to spend time with you. Your many friends care for you, too, as you know. So that wasn’t terrible at all, then. What else happened that upset you?”


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