Archives for posts with tag: speak gently

I am sipping my morning coffee, considering the walk I am eager to want to take. I’m “not there yet”. lol My muscles ache from pushing myself, already. I’m not bitching about it, and I’m not unhappy over it. Sore muscles are muscles working a bit harder, doing more things that need done, and becoming more capable of more work. Consistency is a requirement for forward progress; if I skip the walk today over sore muscles, I don’t make as much progress toward my goals, nor as quickly, so… at some point? Walking. I’m not looking forward to the walking itself, although I’d like to. I am in pain. The walking helps the pain in my back and my neck (osteoarthritis), but is less helpful with the bad ankle that has to support the weight. Without walking, the weight remains an issue. With the walking, the ankle is an issue. I’m not saying it as though this is an unsolvable conundrum, either, just saying that these complications are part of my experience. 🙂 There’s a metaphor here…

It’s a journey with a lot of steps.

We become what we practice. Emotionally and physically. There’s not a lot of room to argue on this one. Are you hot tempered, easily frustrated, quick to react, and tending to fall back on negative feedback and criticism to communicate your needs? Well, that’s the person you become, over time, in a fixed and rather predictably unpleasant way. Are you tender-hearted, prone to tears in the face of negative feedback, (whether or not it is accurate or well-intended, or useful at all) particularly when it comes from someone whose opinion you value? Same slope; you become more of who you already are, and what you choose to do with the toxicity of the world around you, because it is what you practice. You may get called a bitch when you demand that your agency be respected, or when you insist on not being interrupted in a meeting, but that lack of boundary-setting? It’s a practice, too.

…Also? Don’t be a dick. Don’t be a bitch. Don’t call someone names, either; how about we start there? Speak gently. Be clear, and also honest. “Stay in your lane” in the sense that not every opinion you have actually needs to be shared (particularly with regard to your aesthetic, and someone else’s appearance). Check your assumptions – a lot of them are wrong (the science is in on that) – and practice deep listening, instead of waiting for your turn to talk.

Does it sound like I’m venting aimlessly, about commonplace bullshit we all seem to engage in, if not regularly, then once in a while? Well… then I’ve failed to communicate clearly. I’ll try again…

Your words matter. Use them with care. If you are communicating with someone you say you love, communicate with love – real love, using words and tone that make it very clear that the love is first and foremost in your mind, rather than some momentary frustration. Our bitterness, our hurt, our anger – once shared, it’s out there. Shared with emotional force, and absent the love that may be part of our experience, it causes real harms, real doubts about our affection, and can undermine that love we cherish so much.

Don’t let the sun set on a treasured relationship without saying something encouraging, supportive, authentically affectionate – the smallest moment of authentic appreciation and praise can change the color of an entire day. I am fairly certain most of us share negative feedback with cherished others almost every day… imagine the crushing weight of all that criticism, all that negativity, the constant pressure to raise oneself up from beneath the weight of it… Let’s not do that. Let’s handle our words with greater care, ensuring that we take more time for what is positive and uplifting that we do for things we see as problems needing correction.

I challenge you to practice even a 1 to 1 ratio of (authentic) compliments and (sincere) encouragement to criticism and requests for change. I hope you find that incredibly easy (and succeed) – because people need more love and encouragement than that, and as starting points go, it’s a bare minimum for success. I promise you that if you are only sharing negative feedback, that’s all that is being heard. That sounds like a pretty terrible experience to be on the receiving end of, just saying. Use your words as a force for good in your life, use them to lift others up, to encourage what is positive in everyone you meet.

A lot of people may grow up in environments in which very little positive feedback is shared, or the positive words are hollow superlatives about qualities they can’t control, and no attention given to the whole person. People coming from that place may not know how to give authentic positive feedback, and may genuinely not understand why it is necessary. They need to see it done, to feel it, before it will be something they can easily practice themselves. Is that someone part of your life? Be open to explicitly telling them what you need to hear – without excuses, or a need to justify yourself. It’s okay to need what you need, and it’s also quite okay to ask for it. 🙂 “I need you to say something nice to me right now.” may feel weird to say, but it is one place to start. 🙂

We’re all so human. There’s so much stress and hostility in the world right now. Our culture feels so toxic. Be someone who understands there is work to be done, and recognize you can do some of it. Be someone willing to do it. Be the change we need. Speak gently. Be encouraging and kind. Soften your tone. Be trustworthy. Be honest without being mean. Let small shit go. Don’t drink the poison offered to you. Don’t offer others poison.

Don’t like the world as it is? Be part of what changes it. We become what we practice. Practice being the person you truly most want to be. Every choice, every interaction, every day. Sometimes you will fail (I know I do); your results will vary. Practice more. 🙂 Be that better version of yourself, because you choose it, and it matters. Other people may not make these choices – don’t drink the poison they offer you, and walk your own path. 😉

It’s time to begin again.

I measure a hike in miles. I think measuring my progress over time, as a person, may be easier to do in words.

I started this journey, here, in January of 2013, after my emotional wellness crashed hard at the end of 2012 (due to the combination of a traumatic breakup, a fairly (terrible) new relationship I’d gotten tangled up in, and a serious flare up of my PTSD in the aftermath of the infamous Delhi rape in December 2012). While I sought therapy, I also sought a more useful way of communicating and reflecting on my experience, and ended up here. Since that very first blog post, a rather shy introduction, I’ve written 2013 posts, in 7 years, with an average word count of about 700 words.

…I’ve written, right here, 1,317,956 words. Yep. 1.3 million (and a few more) words…

…I haven’t solved anything by doing so. I haven’t “fixed” myself, or the world, or made any noteworthy mark on society, as far as I know. I’m not bitching, I’m just saying – these are the words of one woman. One human being. One perspective. The word count will no doubt continue to grow. I manage about 187,000 words a year. I write nearly every day, even when I don’t write a blog post (I’m not even going to try to quantify all those words). I average 286 posts per year, which, while it doesn’t amount to reliably “every day”, shows some astonishing constancy. Still… I do miss an average of 79 days each year… about 6 and a half days per month, although I doubt there’s that sort of reliable monthly cadence to it. lol. It feels more as if I take a breather, now and then, for a few days, or when I’m out in the trees camping, and then shake that off and get back to it.

…I find myself wondering how many total words I’ve written, and spoken, over the course of a lifetime… a lot of words, no doubt. 🙂

I sip my coffee and smile. This morning feels good. That’s enough. 🙂

Even on the days I feel strongest, most well, most balanced, healthiest, most prepared to adult on all cylinders, even if I feel like a super hero – I’ve got my Kryptonite. We all do. When I am mindful of my limitations, my boundaries, and skillfully setting and managing expectations with others, I can plan around all that. Kryptonite is different; it’s that emotional weakness, trigger, or character flaw that trips one up most often, sometimes quite unexpectedly.

What’s your Kryptonite? Mine happens to be frustration. :-\ Life would seem much “easier” without it. lol

My day started easily. Gently. Rather routinely. The commute was effortless, and efficient. I already had my weekend plans sorted out. My day is locked into a plan pretty comfortably, too. I got into the office feeling relaxed, and ready.

Fat fucking lump of Kryptonite sitting right in my inbox. LOL

Breathe. Take a step back from that shit. Remind myself none of this is personal, really, almost never. At all. Another deep, relaxing breath. This? Not about me. If I make it about me, then it becomes toxic – and I “lose my super powers”. lol Metaphors work for me.

I get a fresh cup of coffee, return to my desk, and get on with things. Re-set. Restart. Reboot. Do-over.

Begin again.

A friend gave me a small sign, says “Speak Gently”. It sits on my desk, part of the background at this point. For no particular reason, it was really in focus at a couple points today. I paid attention. Some things I expected to go very badly, weren’t so bad. That’s something.

…It also feels better to depart from the enormity of the stress and emotional back-pressure that often seems to accompany raised voices, frayed nerves, or terse dialogue. That much I definitely appreciate. Sure. Verbs. Reading is a verb, yeah? I read that sign, and heeded the caution – with the thought of a dear friend in mind, which was even nicer still.

Now a gentle evening, and even the self-talk is bordering on tender. Certainly, I’m giving myself no grief at all this evening, as any lingering twilight is overcome by night. I feel content, and relaxed. It’s enough.

The day seemed much more complicated in real-time. This moment here doesn’t seem to hold any shards leftover from all that. It’s behind me. I look around here, in this place, in this moment, and see a few things I could take care of before bed… Then… I run out of words. 🙂

Language is funny stuff. I sit here amusing myself with rephrasing passive-aggressive posts in my feed, and vague-booking posts, and always/never posts… basically just reading posts and rewriting them in my head to be clearer (to me) and more frank and… more honest.

Seriously, though, what’s with the bullshit that fills up our thoughts and clutters our minds? “I always…”, “you never…”, “you always…”, “I never…” We could just start and end right there with that one. Those are not just wild exaggerations (and for my own amusement, I’ll say “they always are”, which is likely only mostly true) – they are the sort of subtle lies that set us up for failure.

“Can’t” versus “Haven’t”.

“Always” and “never”.

“Have to” and “Can’t”

“No one ever talks about…” (seriously with that foolishness?)

We put our experiences in context, but rather unfortunately I suspect, we own not only our experience, not only our “content”, but also our context – which we get to craft ourselves from whatever notions and moments we think make sense together. lol We’re not super skilled at it, and fill our heads with narratives about good guys and bad guys, and us versus them, and walls and borders and restrictions… still sucking at real boundary-setting, still sucking at being our authentic selves, still sucking at honest self-reflection…

…Still sucking at accepting and encouraging the varying experiences of others, which differ from our own…

…And we wonder why our lives are filled with drama? LOL Omfg – because we create our experience specifically that way! 

We (and by we, I specifically mean you and I) can do better. We can for sure do differently. We have choices.

Choose your words with care. You aren’t only communicating to others, you are setting a tone for yourself, crafting the narrative of your life that you may share with others intending to communicate something about yourself, and literally creating your own understanding of the world. I’m saying your words matter, specifically for that reason.

Treat your own sanity well, specifically by practicing using skillfully frank, and yes also kind, language with and to yourself. Stop trying to “sell it” and just be clear.

I know, I know, this is me saying this, and you know I love some words… Just, …choose them as you would anything else that really really matters. 🙂 Because they do.

Ready? It’s time to begin again. 😀