Speech is somewhat magical if you think about it. In the book The Four Agreements by Miguel Ruiz the first agreement is to ‘be impeccable with your word.’
He says, “If I love myself I will express that love in my interactions with you, and then I am being impeccable with my word because that action will produce a like reaction. If I love you, then you will love me. If I insult you, you will insult me. If I have gratitude for you, you will have gratitude for me. If I’m selfish with you, you will be selfish with me.”
Our words literally create the world we live in. Decreeing something as so, for example, “I am angry!” brings with it a certain force that isn’t there before the words are said.
I like to take this concept one step further and use it not only on how we speak to others but also how we speak to ourselves.
How many times a day do you say something to yourself that you would never, ever say to someone else about yourself?
How many times do you look in the mirror and judge yourself harshly? What do you say to yourself when your pants feel a little tight? Do you ever walk out of meeting or conversation beating yourself up about some off-comment you made or didn’t make?
I’m willing to bet the narrative going on in your head isn’t all that positive.
I get it. I was the worst at negative self-talk, and without making an effort I tend to fall back in the habit. How are we ever supposed to get better and feel better when this is going on? I’ve got three ways that you can start to shift the narrative in your head from negative and judgmental to loving and compassionate.
1. Notice when you are talking to yourself negatively.
While the occasional downbeat or judgmental thought may have little impact on your contentment, the ongoing negativity that passes unnoticed can have a dampening effect on your mood and your outlook. When you are aware of the tone of your thoughts, however, you can challenge them.
Try to be conscious of your feelings, opinions, and judgments for a single day. From sunup to sundown, scrutinize the messages you are feeding into your subconscious mind. Consider your thoughts from the perspective of a detached observer and try not to judge yourself based on the notions that come unbidden into your mind. Simply watch the flow of your consciousness and make a note of the number of times you find yourself focusing on gloomy notions or indulging in self-directed criticism.
Just the awareness of this will start to shift it.
Set parameters around social media usage.
Studies show that social media increases self-criticism. Instead, spend some time tuning into yourself and how you feel about and see your own life through your own eyes. Listen. Pay attention to your own thoughts. Say something nice to yourself. Be with yourself, and get clear on what you actually think and feel about who you are.
This is difficult for so many of us, but if you cannot be with yourself, how do you expect anyone else to be with you? If you speak to yourself disrespectfully or even flat-out rudely, how do you expect anyone else to treat you differently? By elevating your self-treatment to a standard that aligns with your value system, your environment will follow suite.
3. Realize thoughts are fleeting and they do not define you
We all have negative and judgmental thoughts sometimes. I am not supporting the idea that we shouldn’t have them, but I am saying we should be able to disidentify from them and realize that they are fleeting and transient.
We can feel totally down in the dumps one hour and then on top of the world the next. That doesn’t mean we’re crazy, it just means we’re human. If we can recognize when we’re taking our own self-limiting beliefs and thoughts too seriously. We can then allow ourselves to have the emotions and thoughts without identifying with those thoughts. We can allow them to pass through us, instead of letting them stagnate and fester.