There’s an old saying that says sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me. Of course, we all know that this isn’t really true. Words have power, and when they are wielded carelessly, they actually can hurt. In both your personal and professional relationships, the words you choose and the tone you take can shape the way other people feel—about you and about themselves.

Chances are, you know this from personal experience. Perhaps someone said something thoughtless to you once, and it really hurt. It caused you to lose some of your own confidence or self-esteem. At the same time, people who speak carelessly can also do damage to themselves; perhaps someone says something rude to you and you simply lose your respect for them, finding it difficult to look past their haphazard remarks.

As a leader, the way you talk to your team members can have a dramatic impact on the way your team functions, and ultimately on the very way in which your company works. Here’s something that’s just as important, though, and even harder to implement: The way you talk to yourself also has huge ramifications, and can make or break you in terms of everyday success.

That’s why I think it’s so important to start each day right—looking in the mirror and speaking a few words of affirmation to yourself. These don’t have to be over the top; simply remind yourself that you are capable, that you are hard working, and that you have what it takes to succeed. Build up your own confidence with some positive self-talk.

By no means is this a silly or nebulous exercise. Psychologists agree that the way you speak to yourself can shape your attitudes and your actions throughout the day. Speaking positively to yourself pushes your subconscious to step up, take action, and spur you toward success—whereas speaking negatively to yourself will only suppress your potential.

Getting into the habit of self-affirmation can have other positive effects, too. For one thing, it will build within you a meaningful routine of affirmation. You’ll find yourself speaking negative thoughts—I can’t do this, I’m going to fail, etc.much less frequently. You’ll be able to shake off those confidence-killers once and for all.

Self-affirmation also helps you stay focused. It allows you to be reminded, each and every day, of what your purpose is, what you’re trying to achieve—and how you’re going to achieve it.

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