top of page

The Power of Unspoken Thoughts

Image of young siblings leaning against each other on a red sofa. Raleigh Psychotherapy, counseling, Katherine Broadway

After several months of unemployment, Judy got a job. She went into it with a number of unspoken negative thoughts. She would think that she did not want the job, she wanted to change careers, and she did not want to work in the industry she was hired into. To tell the whole truth she did not want to work a full-time job anywhere, but that was not a choice she could make since she needed to work to support herself.

The thoughts she spoke aloud had a much different tone: “I am happy to have a job. This is a new opportunity that has the possibility for growth and advancement, and I am excited to learn about a new industry.”

Unspoken Thoughts

As she began the job, the unspoken thoughts ran through her mind, pulling at her day and night. The job was hard, the learning curve was steep, her co-workers were younger than her and appeared to learn faster than she did. There was negative conversation in the break room and although she tried to not join in, it was irresistible. She wanted to feel like she belonged…besides, she was


As she continued her training, she found her anxiety was growing. Her focus wavered, and she became more and more discouraged. Judy finally began to speak her unspoken thoughts and realized how much influence that had on her performance.

The next day, she told herself she was not the only one who was struggling to master the job. She noticed that there were several others in the training group who were getting extra instruction. She decided to ask for help rather than stay in a place of hopeless, helpless negativity.

The Message

What can we learn from Judy’s experience? When you dwell on and nurture your negative unspoken thoughts, their messages influence you and others around you. Unspoken communication is powerful. When someone says something as simple as “good morning”, the meaning will vary with how it is delivered. If it is spoken without making eye contact, it conveys negativity. Add the eye contact and a smile, and it does feel like a good morning. The unspoken thoughts delivered a powerful message.

In Judy’s case, she saw herself as failing. That message came through in Judy's body language and nonverbal means of comunication. Her supervisor picked up on the message, and whether she realized the connection or not, she was indeed beginning doubt Judy’s abilities on the job.


On the other hand, when you speak your unspoken thoughts, they can lead to solutions. Once those thoughts are articulated, you can make a plan that

addresses the actual problem and brings positive thoughts and actions into our lives.

Take the example of Nancy. She is nine years old, and, unknown to her parents

and teachers, she reads far below her grade level. She is really good at compensating and was able to overcome her difficulties for several years. Finally, it became too much for her. On her mid-year test, she was caught cheating. Everyone was astonished and dismayed.

Nancy’s unconscious mind had come up with a plan to get the help she needed. While talking to her mother she expressed her negative unspoken thoughts: “I am dumb, I can’t do this, I am discouraged and I struggle all the time.” This information mobilized the adults in her life to find her the help she needed. She did not need punishment for being a cheater and a bad kid, she needed a specialized reading teacher.

Nancy is still working to improve her reading, and her teachers are telling her mother how much her confidence has grown, how helpful she is and what a pleasure she is to have in the classroom. When Nancy was able to find the solution to the right problem, she has started to thrive.

Positive Thoughts Misunderstood

To suggest that we only have positive thoughts and that it is only positive thoughts that will create success, is a huge misunderstanding in our world today. Negative thoughts can lead us to solutions and success if we pay attention to what those thoughts are trying to tell us. Both Judy and Nancy needed to understand their negative thoughts. Among all the frightening words was a message, “I need more help and I need to pay closer attention.” Because of the focus on negative thoughts and the resulting shame for feeling that way, Judy didn't pay attention to what she was being taught. Her concentration and focus was off. She was afraid to ask for the help she needed. Once she was able to understand what she needed, she was able to get the specific help she needed and to concentrate learning.

Human beings are the most naturally vulnerable living beings on earth. We do not have a tough protective covering or claws or fangs to protect ourselves. We have to use intelligence and strategy. Negative thoughts are one of the triggers for the survival instinct, making it very important to learn how to listen to them and to use them.

Mindfulness is the key to getting the most benefit from our negative thoughts. Mindfulness is defined as a way to intentionally pay attention to the present moment without being caught up in judgment and criticism. As you learn to be mindful you will begin to see negative thoughts as clues to what you need to pay attention to in order to better take care of yourself.

Are you ready to begin to speak your unspoken thoughts is a safe place? I can listen and help you understand. Call me at, (919)881-2001

bottom of page