I decided to head to the coffee shop to write today! It’s a great way to gain new perspectives.
As I sipped a cup o’ rich java, I stumbled upon a superb blog post on http://blog.lizrileyphotography.com (a photographer who writes a fantastic blog) that resonated with me. It really was about the messages we give ourselves – many of them negative or at least highly questionable – and the impact they have on us. The premise of Liz’s piece is people’s search for a full, enjoyable, confident (but not arrogant!), self-loving and self-sharing life, which in turn becomes life-giving for those around them. A wholehearted life! How we speak to and about ourselves is foundational in achieving wholehearted living. Here’s a shout-out to Liz for the great inspiration!
How DO we speak to and about ourselves? I have to turn that question on myself more often than I like to admit. Especially in times of change or uncertainty, old messages of doubt and fear creep in without invitation. What we say to and about ourselves matters. It matters a whole lot.
My coffee enjoyment is punctuated by others’ conversations, which is always eye opening and sometimes entertaining. Here are two statements I just heard from people around me:
* I should have known better.
* I’m so stupid!
What do you say about yourself? Do you speak respectfully to or about yourself, or do you diminish yourself with statements like the ones I overheard?
Let’s look a little more closely:
I should have known better – What makes you think you should have known better? What would “better” look like? Would “having known better” have changed the outcome?
I’m so stupid! – This is a general statement, probably in response to an event you wish had turned out differently. Or one that embarrassed you. The actual definition of stupid is to have diminished mental capabilities, though we seldom think of that when we use the word. I suspect that you’re likely quite intelligent. Capable of making mistakes, yes – like we all are. But, you don’t deserve the stupid label, regardless of the incident or embarrassment.
Another side of blatant disrespect towards ourselves is minimizing what we can actually do or accomplish. Something like this:
* I’m not really very organized, but somehow I managed to pull off that event.
* I could never go back to school like you did. I don’t have the brains.
Really? Not organized? Just a minute…you said that you planned an entire event? Evidently you have some level of organizational ability then, right? Is there something that could have been improved? Always! Did you have help? Probably, but it seems you spearheaded the planning. The point is: you did it! Yay for you!
And that statement about not having the brains to achieve a goal? Going back to school may or may not be your goal. Comparing your brain with someone else’s is kind of like saying because you didn’t grow up in Switzerland, you’ll never be a skier. What would you like your brain to help you achieve? How can you take one step at a time to move toward and then reach that goal?
What really gets me are the classic “I used to be’s” and “I’m kinda’s
For years I would say:
* I am sort of a writer. Or more recently,
* I used to be a runner.
Why do we do this? It’s like saying: I am a little bit pregnant. Do we avoid committing to something we think is intimidating, like being a writer or a runner? Do we subconsciously fear this will then require something of us that we can’t produce consistently?
The thing is, we do want to share our passion; if we didn’t, we’d avoid mentioning it. But we fear judgment for not being a NYT bestseller or a marathon champion. Maybe you struggle to call yourself a musician, an artist, a photographer, someone who is incredibly gifted.
If I write, I’m a writer; if I have run in the past (and am on a hiatus for whatever reason), I am a runner. Period.
What do you say about yourself?
*I used to be fit. Or,
*I once had a much more vibrant spirituality or a better connection to God than I have now.
Maybe so. Could be that you once were more fit than you are now. Possibly your connection with God seemed more satisfying at one point. That’s okay. Living wholeheartedly allows us to acknowledge where we are and how we see ourselves (even if not always 100% accurately).
We can find ways to stop punishing ourselves for all kinds of things: things we think we should have changed by now, or things in our past we could not have done differently, given what we knew then.
Today is today. Breathe!
To live wholeheartedly we need to show compassion towards ourselves. That’s right – extend compassion to ourselves. This isn’t as straightforward as it sounds.
Where do we begin to shift our messages from negative or downplaying to life-giving?
1.) Listen to yourself. What are you telling yourself every day? Take a moment to write down some of the lines you are feeding yourself!
2.) Counter these negatives with a question. Is this really true? Is there an angle I’m not seeing? What do I really want?
3.) Avoid inaccurate counter statements. For example, if I have a large debt, simply repeating statements about my financial abundance will not change my financial status automatically. Instead, these mantras will leave me frustrated and feeling like a failure, if I don’t take concrete steps to make something happen.
4.) Recognize that every change involves work and time. But it’s effort well expended. The impact on your life will be incredible.
In coaching we look at what you feel holds you back. I take your fears, disappointments, hurts seriously, and we go from there. We can go into much more detail than a blog post ever could. I look forward to hearing from you. Click here to get in touch.
Here’s to choosing our words intentionally, bringing us closer to wholehearted living.