“Hold on. Let me rephrase.”
If you’ve happened to talk to me in person or on the phone lately, it’s highly likely that you’ve heard this from me.
Words are powerful. Multiple studies have been published showing that plants, water crystals, and people all develop better when spoken to in positive and encouraging ways. We know this. It’s why we rail against bullying and make sure to encourage and build up our friends. But how often do we build up ourselves?
Even those of us who say, “I try very hard to be kind to myself” can find themselves speaking seemingly-innocent yet extremely damaging words into their identities. Not long ago, I had one of THOSE DAYS. You know those days—everything goes wrong; things fall apart; your outfit doesn’t look right; your hair has a mind of its own. In the midst of that day, I made a simple, absent-minded mistake. It was an easy fix and no negative consequences came from it. However, in describing it to a friend later I said; “I was an idiot and…” She stopped me immediately. Can you see why? I’m not an idiot and I don’t think that of myself. It was just an easy phrase to describe that I made a snafu. Simple, but inaccurate.
One of my favourite books is The Giver by Lois Lowry. (Do NOT even talk to me about the movie.) At one point in the book, our hero recalls an interaction his best friend Asher had with their preschool teacher. Asher, anxious and impatient for lunch, loudly complains that he is starving. They boys’ teacher quickly and forcefully corrects him. In their perfect society, he is not starving and will never be starving. Precision of language is important.
So too for the way we talk to and about ourselves. We must be precise in our descriptions or we may find ourselves living up to identities and definitions that we don’t need. Now, when I find myself making a comment like “I have no upper body strength” or “I’m totally not qualified,” you’ll here me stop and utter those famous and vital words:
Hold on. Let me rephrase.
What can you rephrase in your life? What perspectives need a little more accuracy?