Are You Sabotaging Yourself With Your Words?

by Julie Costello, LMFT

Only 1 more month until this deployment is over.

Just 2 more classes, and I will graduate.

Can you feel the excitement? The anticipation?

But what happens when you use those words, the justs and the onlys, to limit yourself?

I was reading a post not too long ago where a person was making a great point, but then clarified that they were just an intern. So, were they telling me to discard their point since they weren’t experienced enough to make it?

Here’s my voice and
here’s my message,
but I must qualify that
I’m only…just…

It got me thinking about how often people sabotage themselves with their words; making themselves seem less than without even realizing it. I’ll admit, I was a bit shocked about how often I do it, both out loud and in my head.

I’m just a stay-at-home parent.

I’m only an intern.

The ever-dreaded “I’m just a dependent.”

The same words that can bring you the thrill of a countdown can also serve to sabotage your worth before you’ve even had a chance to show it.

That just and the only convey the message, “I’m not really convinced of my value and you shouldn’t be either.”

Why are you limiting yourself? Why are you telling people that you’re not good enough?

And while we’re on the subject of self-sabotaging words, can I please throw in a 5-letter one? How about “sorry”? How often do you find yourself apologizing for something that doesn’t warrant it, or feeling guilty because you might have inconvenienced someone by doing something like, I don’t know, asking a question? Allow me to give you an example of what this looks like.

Dear Someone More Qualified Than Me,

I’m sorry to bother you but I just wanted to ask a quick question
because I’m only someone with less experience.

Someone Who’s Time is Less Valuable Than Yours
(which is why I’m apologizing for interrupting you with my question)"

So here’s my challenge to you (and to me). Stop using those 4 (and 5) letter words to limit yourself and your potential. Don’t be only a stay-at-home parent, BE a stay-at-home parent. Don’t be just an intern, BE an intern.

As we move through this season where many express what they are grateful for, be grateful for you, my friends.

Be grateful, and proud, and confident in who you are and where you are at this moment. Stop apologizing for being less than or less valuable, because I assure you, you are not.

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Julie Costello is an Army spouse and a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist. She graduated from Tarleton State University with a master’s degree in counseling psychology and is currently pursuing her PhD with Northcentral University, specializing in military family therapy.
Julie is passionate about educating the mental health community on the unique needs of military families.

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