Do me a favor, buddy.
Think back to the past few days.
How many times did you:
- Say sorry (when you weren’t actually apologizing)
- Say I can’t
- Or I shouldn’t
- Or I have to
- Judge someone else
- Judge yourself
Odds are, quite a few times. And if you’re a female, odds are it was a few more times than just a few.
Now, I’ve written a few posts on self-talk, See: Why “No” Needs to be Part of Your Vocabulary and Let’s Chat About Negative Self-Talk.
But this one just might be the most important.
Today, I’m asking you to stop saying sorry (when you don’t need to).
I’m asking you to pay attention to the words you use.
I’m asking you to use your words for good.
Because the things you say (and the things you think) each day have a profound impact on you and those around you.
Countless studies have shown the effects of negative speech and negative self-talk on our self esteem and productivity, as well as our relationships. We all know a debbie downer, and we all know how draining it is to be around them. (Imagine how drained they feel, constantly surrounded by their own negativity.)
And negative speech and self-talk can take many forms. It not only encompasses the usual I suck at this, my hair looks like shit today, I’m not smart enough to be here, but it’s also framing things negatively, reacting to situations in a negative manner. It’s the ugh I really should get to the gym but I have to get this work done first, I can’t handle this, look at that girls pants, yikes.
And honestly, I’ve been doing a whole lot of all of that lately, and I’m over it.
Very, very over it.
I’m in total grind-mode right now. I want nothing more than to kick this semester’s booty, be fully present and focused while I’m at work (and hopefully earn a promotion), be consistent and strategic with my blog, and take care of myself mentally and physically.
Ya girl has no time for negative energy. I know you don’t, either.
SO, I have some things I’ve been practicing that I think you can benefit from too.
1. Stop Saying Sorry
I was reading in my book, How to Get Sh*t Done by Erin Falconer, about the phenomenon that women apologize much more than men, and for no good reason.
Falconer points out how multiple times a day, us ladies will say sorry, even when we aren’t apologizing. These sorry’s take many forms, like the, “Sorry, I took the last parking spot!”, or the, “Sorry, you busy? Can you look this over for me?” or the, “Sorry, let me just squeeze right by ya.”
Too often, we apologize for things we simply don’t need to, or we could easily swap the word sorry for excuse me.
And this makes sense; a 2010 study in the Journal of Psychological Science showed that women have a lower threshold for offensive behavior than men do. Women feel that more of their everyday actions are intrusive or offensive, resulting in more “apologies”.
As this HuffPost article puts it,
Before we women even open our mouths, our words feel like an imposition rather than a contribution, and thus we feel we need to say “I’m sorry” to cushion the impact.
And this constant stream of apologies goes hand in hand with a lowered sense of confidence. More apologies make us feel more burdensome, which makes us apologize more for feeling burdensome.
With this knowledge, I’ve started to monitor my sorry’s, and only use them when necessary. It’s strange at first. It feels almost impolite.
But there’s such a powerful difference between respectfully saying what you need to say, and apologizing for saying what you need to say.
2. Stop Judging – Yourself and Others
I have to send a thank you out to my boyfriend, who’s always the first one to point out when I’m being mean to myself. He hears most of my ramblings of “my legs look so big today” or “I need to change these jeans, my belly’s hanging over the top.” He always says, “Hey be nice to yourself,” and although I normally laugh it off, his reminder does hit home.
For a lot of us, it’s easier to make jokes and poke fun at our insecurities instead of accept them and love them. I know I always make fun of myself for being so Type A, or for making sure I leave the bar at 10 so I can get a good night’s sleep.
But now, instead of cracking a joke at my own expense, I’m to rewriting my self-talk. I avoid poking fun at myself and being overly critical, and I highlight the parts of myself that I love, that make me feel confident, and the parts of me that make me me. I am who I am and I love who I am, why don’t I treat myself accordingly?
A great piece of advice I received was to treat myself like I would treat my best friend.
If I wouldn’t tell them they’re letting themselves go, or that they’re being a buzzkill for staying home to finish homework, or that they’re being annoying by asking for help, I shouldn’t say those things to myself, either.
The same goes for other people. I always find myself making snap judgements and assumptions about people, instead of giving them the benefit of the doubt.
Maybe that guy who cut you off on the highway and was threading lanes was on his way to a job interview that could change his life.
And maybe that lady who let her kids run barefoot in the store was simply choosing the lesser of two evils, letting her kids do their thing to avoid causing a scene and disturbing other peoples’ experiences.
It’s too easy to assume the worst in people right off of the bat, but I do believe that people are good. I need to remember that, even in times of frustration.
3. Swap Negative Phrases for Positive Ones
This is for the I can’t, I shouldn’t, I won’t, I hate statements.
You know that age-old trick of turning your weaknesses into strengths when you’re going for an interview? When your I drive myself crazy because I’m a perfectionist turns into I’m fully committed to doing the best work I can. Yeah, I’ve been practicing that.
My can’ts have turned into cans, my have-to‘s have turned into wills, and my shoulds have turned into wants. Simple affirmative language changes can really impact your perception of your life.
4. Make Sure Your Speech is Valuable
This is probably the hardest, but the most important strategy I have for you.
Before you speak, before you let your mind wander, ask yourself: Is this adding value to my day?
Is your, “Oh gosh it’s so freezing I hate the snow,” comment essential to your conversation? Is it going to positively impact your life? Does your friend not also realize that it’s freezing outside?
We all say little things like this throughout our day, but when you stop to think about it, was it really necessary? The only thing that statement brought you was feelings of discomfort and hate.
Let’s swap that for, “I can’t wait for spring, I love watching all the trees bloom after a long winter.”
This statement brought you hope, love.
It sounds kinda hokey, I know.
But these little changes can make a huge impact, I promise.
I hope you implement some of these strategies this week! Sending you all lots of love.