Speech is a powerful tool. How we speak to someone can have a lasting effect. It could be considered black magic if it’s negative such as gossip, or white magic, if its praise or encouragement. People will listen to our words and hold us to them, they will remember what we’ve said and keep a record of it (email) to remind us later, they will listen to how we speak and make determinations as to our intentions, motivations, and emotional state. If we come off angry or critical people will take offense. If we are complimentary, they may feel grateful or validated. Depending on what we say they may ignore us entirely or consider us an expert. They may or may not realize that what is said and how it’s said often says more about the speaker than the listener. Regardless, words have power. As the saying goes, it can take years to build a friendship and one careless word to end it.
Clearing out the voices in your head isn’t easy. In fact you will probably never be able to quiet them forever, but there are ways of working with them or around them.
Meditation – There are plenty of places to get instruction on meditating. The Insight Meditation Center is one. http://insightmeditationcenter.ning.com/. Concentrating on your breathing in a quiet space for 20 minutes a day can do wonders to center you and make you more resilient to the challenges (and voices) of the day.
Affirmations – I think affirmations get a bum rap. If you subscribe to the theory that words have power like I do, then positive words should have just as much power as negative ones. The problem I think we run into and why so many people think affirmations don’t work is because our ratio of positive-talk to negative-talk is often out of whack. We may have a lifelong habit (whether we are aware of it or not) of negative self-talk. It takes a huge amount of effort and willpower to counteract that. I do think it’s worth it however.
Imagine you are talking to a 5 year old - No you WOULD NOT say those things to a child. You probably wouldn’t say them to your spouse or partner either. So why say them to yourself.
Speak up – Your experience, your feelings, and your concerns are all valid. Don’t keep them inside. Say them out loud. Do it alone if need be until you feel comfortable. Speak kindly. Say what you need to say in a timely manner, as opposed to digging up the past. And speak with good intentions. You may be surprised by the reaction you get, and not everyone is going to agree with you. That’s fine. But there is something very empowering about saying what you need to say out loud.
Avoid gossip– Talking negatively about others is just as bad as talking negatively about yourself. Probably worse because there is always going to be someone who agrees and reinforces the negativity. If you get in the habit of not gossiping about others, then curbing the negative self talk becomes that much easier.
Listen - Listen to what people have to say, even if you don’t agree. Speak your thoughts in return. Keep in mind though, that you don’t need to argue every political point with in-laws or your co-workers. You probably won’t change anyone’s mind by arguing anyway. A solid well spoken opinion, that you don’t feel the need to defend, will speak volumes more than an argument anyway.
A wise man once told me “Never defend, your friends don’t need it
and your enemies won’t believe you anyway”.
Never assume - Finally, and it should go without saying, but I’m going to say it anyway. Don’t make assumptions. Your inner voices will always assume the worst and then they will try to convince you to take it personally. Remember to ask, or paraphrase what you just heard. It’s far better to iron out the misunderstandings on the front end of a conversation than you go down the path of assumptions and end up in an argument.
If you found this helpful or have additional tips, please leave a comment.