"Words can inspire and words can destroy. Choose yours well."- Robin Sharma
I have a dishtowel that hangs in my kitchen that a dear friend gave to me. It reads, "I love Jesus but I cuss a little." First, thank God for friends who know me so well but love me anyway. Those are the best kinds. Second, while I have a history of being an avid lover of choice words as well as someone known for frankly giving people a piece of my mind, I'm finally realizing in my "maturity" that saying whatever I feel like saying whenever I feel like saying it may not be the wisest of choices, and very likely will end in a situation where I am far more negatively affected than my intended target. As a teenager I was told, "You'll catch more flies with honey than you will with vinegar. As a young adult I was told, "It's not what you say, it's how you say it." Who am I kidding? I was told that as recently as the last six months.(Note: We are always a work in progress.) However, as much work as I still have to do in this area, I have absolutely bought into the belief that my words matter and that what I say has the power to positively or negatively affect my relationships, my situations, and my state of mind.
I have two dogs. One of them likes to step in her own poop if you let her. Don't ask me why she would want to do that or how she seems to walk exactly where poop is instead of ANYWHERE else in the yard, but nevertheless, if I don't clean it up as soon as she does her business, this is what happens. And sometimes the grass or leaves or acorns get in the way so that I might miss a nugget or two. This is precisely what happened the day I lost my ever-loving sh%$ on my family. I was herding everyone into the car in an attempt to get everyone to school on time when I start to notice a trail around the house of dark spots on the floors. Upon closer look I notice that those spots are dog poop. Upon inspection of my dogs front and rear paws, I find the culprit- dog poop smashed into and in between a rear paw and toenails. I immediately start hurling F bombs at everyone in the house- "Why the F didn't you pick up the poop?" How many F ing times have I told you to check her paws? What the F is wrong with you people? No one notices the F ing poop all over the floor?" I continue with my rant all the way down the stairs and into the car, everyone staring at their feet, not daring to move a muscle or make eye contact lest my fury be laserly pinpointed on them. I'm still losing my mind, in fact, as I turned on the car and put the car in reverse and backed out of the garage. There was only one problem. I became so wrapped up in my furious fit of verbal abuse I forgot to raise the garage door. That's right. I rammed right into the garage door. The good news was it shut me right up. Bad news? My garage door and my ego were both pretty damaged. Not only did I have to admit that even I am capable of making mistakes, I had to spend money to fix the physical damage my tirade had caused. It ended up being a funny not funny story that we all laugh about now, but the truth is that my words caused the whole situation to escalate to a point that was completely avoidable.
"Be mindful of your self-talk. It's a conversation with the Universe."- David James Lees
As critical as it is how you speak to others in challenging times, so too is how you choose to speak to yourself. We all have parts of ourselves that we aren't over the moon about, but by choosing to focus on what we do like about ourselves and even telling ourselves positive affirmations aloud, we feel good and it shows in our behavior and in the way we carry ourselves. I listened to a podcast once that talked about the benefits of talking to yourself in the mirror every morning as a positive way to start your day. I figured I would try it. At first, smiling at myself was the best I could do. Then I mustered up the courage to tell myself I was going to have a great day. Now I have the audacity to tell myself I am stunningly beautiful. What's more is I actually have myself believing it most days. The feeling I get when I choose to treat myself with love and respect through the words I speak to myself set the stage for how I speak to everyone else and determine the words I use to handle any stressful situations throughout the day.
As we become more proficient in consistently practicing our self-care, we realize the words we speak to ourselves set the stage for how we will treat others. I know firsthand, for example, that on days where I have been really down on myself and couldn't even bear to look in the mirror, let alone say something nice, I also was unable to offer any words of wisdom or be of service in any way to someone else. If we can't find a way to love ourselves, we cannot authentically love anyone else. It just won't work. This is why being self-centered has nothing to do with being selfish and everything to do with being fully aware that it is impossible to pour from an empty cup. Words are the building blocks to the way we can positively or negatively affect our self-talk, self-care, relationships, and community. Choose wisely.
With love and gratitude,
Kinda and Rachel