While I would normally love to spend hours waxing on the power of words as it relates to stories and novels, this post deals with a much more prevalent kind of language: the one we use with ourselves.
I can’t number the amount of times I’ve spoken poorly of myself internally. Whether it’s after receiving a poor grade or getting on the scale – there always seems to be something inherently wrong to point out. As I’ve been trying to be more mindful recently (and really since teacher training) – I’ve noticed it’s not only what we say to ourselves, but how we say it. The seemingly minute difference between saying, “I’m slightly annoyed” and “I’m pissed off” can evolve based solely on word choice. Focusing on an event as a life-changing and horrific may make it such an event (when it wasn’t one in the first place). On the other hand, treating our annoyances and anger as fleeting and temporary can have exactly the opposite effect – in fact, making ourselves more centered and balanced.
Of course it’s not instantaneous. You can’t just wake up and decide to change a lifelong habit (Though if you can/are such a person, then serious props). I know I couldn’t. The first step of any change is simply recognition. Just taking the second to think and acknowledge that you used extremely negative language against yourself is a step in of itself. Eventually, after noticing these occurrences enough – all you have to say is “Would I let someone say this to me publicly/Would I let this be said to my loved ones? Usually not. It can take time. In fact, it usually does. Our internal speech is subtle and oftentimes, it’s easy to miss. But once you notice the more dramatic outbursts, it becomes simpler to spot the quiet negativity which can be just as subtle, or even more hurtful.
One of my nightly affirmations is: I choose to think thoughts that serve me well. I’ve found that since adopting this into my nightly routine, my internal voice is no longer as scathing. The only problem can be distinguishing between what you personally consider scathing and what may be internal calls for improvement phrased nastily. This of course varies greatly on the person, and there is no “right way” to think about it. Usually (and thankfully so) it can be fairly easy to identify what is hurtful as one becomes more mindful and aware.
I choose to think thoughts that serve me well.