How many times have you said something, only to discover the intention of your words didn’t match the impact? It seems I’m always apologizing for what I said or how I said it.
I was upset with a friend and I called them an ass during an argument. They stopped me in my tracks and immediately called me on my behavior. “We can disagree without being disrespectful.” I started to defend the action because that was not my intent. I hadn’t even considered the impact of my words until I had to swallow the consequences of them. I wasn’t being disrespectful or demeaning. I actually highly admire them. I was just pissed with them. My attempts to defend myself made the matter worse.
I languished over my friend’s reaction. I couldn’t believe I was so careless with something as powerful as words. This friend’s love language is Words of Affirmation. They have shared experiences with me that showed that every word said to them is felt in some manner. I should have known better. They gave me plenty of warnings that this was a zero tolerance matter for them. How could I do this to them? No wonder why they doubted our friendship. I’m a horrible toxic friend.
I was inconsolable as I spoke to my life coach about the argument and the results following because of this simple word. Uttered thoughtlessly, had forever altered a connection I had with this person. I couldn’t believe I was this immature, that while in my feelings and emotions, I could be so thoughtless and cruel to someone I love.
My coach let me go on like this for a few minutes and then said, you need to be more gentle and loving with your words. My response, “I know! If I had done that in this argument, things would be different now.”
She responded and said, “how can your outer voice speak gently and with love, when your inner voice is so cruel? You haven’t learned to be gentle with yourself, so why are you surprised when you fail to do it consistently with others? Listen to how you described yourself within this interaction. She listed all of the adjectives I used to describe myself; disrespectful, demeaning, immature, thoughtless, toxic, horrible. Do you believe you are all these things because you called a person an ass?
Oh man….I didn’t even recognize the punishment I was speaking over myself. I made a mistake and was focused on the impact of my words and I was letting myself have it! So I posted to Facebook that I was doing my work and no more pity parties for me. I accept my role and my responsibility and I’m going to stop being a brat. I was so proud that I could own my bad behavior and be truthful and authentic while doing it.
Then life coach called and said, great post, but how could you have spoke your truth while still being kind to yourself? Because you were very unkind with your words.
Dang coach. I need help with my soulwork for this week. How do you master speaking lovingly to yourself at all times? How do you master your inner voice? This is what I know:
1. Practice Solitude. You have to get quiet and still in order to hear your inner voice. Find a place that is clutter free and is removed from distractions. Make this your “happy place”, your “place of peace”, whatever you want to name it. Learn to sit quiet and still, no tv, no music . Try 30 minutes a day and work your way up to 60 minutes. Know that practicing solitude is not the same as doing nothing. You are getting quiet to really hear your voice. Don’t try to do anything but breathe. Keep a journal nearby as you will want to capture some thoughts to take action on later.
2. Learn the difference between your voice of reason and your voice of fear. Your inner voice can be critical or loving. Which ever you feed, will be the voice that is the loudest. When your inner voice begins to repeat the negative messages others have attempted to speak into your spirit, stop it right then. Don’t claim ownership of those messages. Don’t agree with them. You are not what/who others say you are. You are what/who you say you are and that is all that matters. Every day you get to make a different choice. You have the power to change the messages playing in your head.
3. Listen to your voice. Follow your intuition. The more you listen and allow it to guide, the more your feed it, the more it grows.
4. Practice positive affirmations. Start your day by clearly stating a positive intention. Remind yourself throughout the day of your intention. Words are so powerful that you have to use them purposely. Here is an example: You don’t hear your alarm and you wake up 20 minutes late. You usually say “I woke up late, today is already starting to be a horrible day.” Well guess what, you just spoke a horrible day into existence. So a man thinks, so a man is. Try this declaration instead, “my day may have started a bit chaotic, but I’m still going to have a great day today.” And let’s face it, there will be times when you can’t say anything positive at all no matter how you try. That is the time to practice silence until you can speak positively.
5. Be gentle with yourself. You will not get everything right every time. You are doing the best you can at that very moment. A mistake does not define your character no matter what someone tells you. You are the sum of your experiences, both good and bad. Learn from the good, and attempt to repeat and expand those experiences. Learn from the bad, and extract the lesson and continue to move forward.
My friend is not an ass and I’m not a horrible toxic friend for calling them one. It was a learning opportunity for me to become more intentional, gentle and loving with every word I think and speak, for me to do some soulwork that I have been avoiding and to begin to master my voice, both the inner and outer one.