Words are my thing. I started reading at a young age and from that point on had my nose in a book, even now I’m perpetually in the middle of reading at least three. I hoard articles, quotes, take pictures of passages I find particularly impactful. I love language. Its nuances, its ability to create absolutely captivates me. I pride myself on being careful, thoughtful with my choice of words, thinking through not only what I’m trying to convey but also how my words will be received. However, recently I began to question if that was truly the case or if I was putting in just enough effort to call it good.
I started to make subtle changes in my word choices after reading an article about how often we say ‘sorry’. It’s a catchall, used so frequently, so casually, it has lost its meaning. Its overuse also sets us up for negativity Running late to a meeting? A rushed “sorry I was late!” is my usual greeting. Starting with an apology already puts me in a negative space to work back from. I started, instead, to thank people, as suggested in the article. “Thank you for your patience,” sets a much different tone than “sorry.”
In teacher training there is a large focus on word choice. For sculpt it’s all about being precise and concise. Get your words out, make them meaningful. No fillers. I started to notice the words I use as crutches: so, like, that, just, really. I had trained myself to use them in place of pauses or more powerful words choices without realizing their use was softening my voice. In yoga training there is more space for words. Space to add color, not fluff. Sentence structure sets the tone for a class. Word choice can empower or defeat students:
“Just hold high plank”
“Hold high plank to build strength”
They’re the same thing, right? Not exactly. One implies if you can’t do what everyone else is doing you can “just” do this alternative. The other says you have another option to serve your body where you are today. Subtle, but meaningful.
As I started to be more mindful about the word choices and the energy I created with them I began reading The Four Agreements. The first agreement is “be impeccable with your word.” I realized watching the word choices I spoke was a good start, but it mean anything if wasn’t impeccable with the words I used with myself. What words have I been using when talking to and about myself? Were they creating the world I wanted? Like my longstanding battle with Diet Coke I vowed to reduce my intake of things that served as a crutch without truly helping me. Here’s the list…
Sorry - In Scary Close Donald Miller likens apologies to Press Releases, formalities without true meaning. “Sorry” is the tl;dr version of an apology. I choose to either truly ask for forgiveness or frame a conversation in a different way.
The Fillers - They waste my breath and your time. I’ll try to be more respectful of both. Deal?
The Contradictions - A little confusing but each of these have a time and a place. I need to understand when to use each.
No - Often when I say no to something it’s out of fear. New experiences for growth come present themselves in ways that can be scary. If I want to grow I have to say yes.
Yes - Blindly saying yes is how I overextend myself and don’t give the best version of me. When I take something on, I’ll do so thoughtfully.
The Big One - Can’t
As a filler - I’m notorious for using the phrase “I can’t, I’m busy can’ting,” to avoid things I don’t want to do. It’s not great. It makes me sound like a jerk. “Can’ting” is a cop out. Reflecting on the no/yes commitment if I don’t want to do something I need to examine why and decide if it is coming from a place of fear. If I genuinely do not have the energy, either physical or emotional, to do something I need to be honest about it and explain where I’m coming from.
As a personality trait - Often times I let my Impostor Syndrome get the best of me. I get inside my head to the point of paralyzing myself with fear. I let my ‘can’ts’ win, they become my own self fulfilling prophecy. That is no longer something I have space for in my life. I can. I am capable. The ‘can’t’ doesn’t get to win. I do.