We come across as quiet, easy going, emotional or “soft.” Seemingly easy targets for those who belittle others to feel empowered.
And because we internalize negativity so strongly, those belittling comments can sink in deeply. If we’re not careful, we can turn someone’s demeaning remarks into our internalized truths.
Like most of us, I’ve been faced with belittling remarks. In the past, I allowed these remarks to infiltrate my self-worth. My intuition would tell me not to trust the words I heard, but my soul would ache with shame and insecurity. Without consciously realizing, I’d eventually accept the words I heard as true. And what you accept as true, you live out.
Eventually I realized that this was unacceptable. My self-esteem was worth fighting for and I had the power to choose the words I believe in.
If you’ve fallen prey to those who belittle and have allowed their harsh words to penetrate the vulnerable parts of your mind and heart, you know how damaging those words can be. The next time you’re on the receiving end of such words, use the following steps to help you recover:
Remember the Truth About Belittling Words
When someone belittles you, it’s a reflection of the speaker, not the recipient. Belittling or condescending people is never a necessary or productive form of dialogue.
If someone feels they need to do that to feel empowered, they have some things they need to work through. The words they expressed reflect their truth, not yours. Never allow people who use communication so irresponsibly to sabotage your self-image.
You don’t need to engage in a back and forth dialogue with someone who speaks down to you, at least not when your emotions feel overwhelming. Instead, you can quickly and politely negate their statement and walk away.
If you can’t find the right words to defend yourself or you start to feel too anxious or intimidated, you can just say something simple like “Thanks so much for that insight. Have a nice day.” The simple fact that you refuse to engage with the person hoping to minimize you, is enough to remind yourself (and them) of your worth.
Embrace the Pain
Belittling words hurt. Trying to pretend they didn’t happen is impossible. Feel the pain and process it throughly. Trying to ignore the pain will only allow it to sink deeper into your subconscious.
When you’re ready, you can work to counteract the words you heard. But first, allow yourself some time alone to simply feel. Let your feelings work through you so that you can eventually release them.
Use Your Vulnerability
If the words you heard were very painful, talk them through with someone you trust. Someone who believes in you and can give you the comfort you need. Let your guard down and reveal how the words made you feel. This vulnerability will open yourself up to receiving the love and healing you need.
Let their loving words envelop you in place of the hurtful ones. Hold on to their embrace instead of the smothering words of condescension.
Fight the Good Fight
Belittling words will fight for control of your subconscious. Don’t let them win. Once you’ve fully processed the words you heard, it’s time to counteract them. No matter what the words were, whether they diminished your intelligence, capabilities, profession, age, gender, sexual preference, etc., you can find evidence in your life that proves them wrong. Take the time to gather that evidence.
Humans are biased towards negativity. It’s so easy to believe the mean things we hear, it’s far more difficult to believe the good. So you have to fight for your thoughts. Fight for your subconscious and make losing not an option.
Release the Words
Words are powerful. They can reflect both the beauty of the world and the ugliness. When people don’t respect the power of words, they use them irresponsibly. Don’t allow this irresponsible dialogue to steal your self-worth.
Process your emotions. Ask for help if you need it. Put in the work and fight for your thoughts. Then release the words that were spoken so irresponsibly towards you. They don’t serve you and they aren’t your truth.
Always remember, the only power belittling words have over you, is the power you give them.
Have you ever been subjected to belittling remarks? How did you handle them?
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Overcoming Cruel Words Cheat Sheet
Never allow cruel, belittling or condescending words to steal your self-esteem again. Use this cheat sheet to quickly heal and turn those words into something empowering.