Words are important to me! And I have noticed that with mindfulness practice, not only have I become more aware of my thoughts and emotions, I have also increased my awareness of the words I use.
Words turn up in our head with the constant conversations we have with ourselves. If you haven’t noticed yet, then just close your eyes and sit in silence for a couple of minutes without distractions. Listen to how your internal voice takes you in one direction and then the other without respecting that you decided to just sit in stillness! Often the voice in our head is very critical, and I am trying to turn things around by allowing, as best I can, for good words and kind comments to come to me instead.
There are three expressions I am particularly aware of at the moment, and that is “I should”, “I have to” and “I don’t have time”. Here’s my view on them:
Should vs Could
Several years ago I read a passage about how it is beneficial to replace “should” with “could”. This is easy in the English language! Notice how the “could” version sounds kinder, more like an invitation? I should write an article, or I could write an article. Using “could” in this example, I am giving myself a choice rather than an order.
As best I can, I use “could”, also in conversation with others.
I have to vs I want to
It is easy to live by other people’s rules and opinions. That is how it works daily for many of us. However, in my view, it is completely okay, even crucial for our own wellbeing, that we act according to what is right for us. There is nothing wrong with “having to” do things, but sometimes I feel I am using the “have to” without awareness, and it makes something that needs to be done sounding as if I have no power to decide myself. So if a task comes up, I choose to say “I want to” do it, as long as it is true to me. Often I need to hear the “have to” first to realise what I just said! And from there I can change it around.
You could try this too? Allow yourself to look at a task with kindness and curiosity, no resistance – sometimes saying “I want to” will make the task easier to accomplish.
I have to fix this, or I want to fix this? Hm… Well, it is up to me!
I don’t have time vs I choose not to prioritise this
This is a big one, as I believe you always have a choice! You have decision power over your time and how you want to spend it. Perhaps you are not always in control of your time at work, but outside of work, yes, most of the time. What’s the reason for saying we don’t have time so often? I see the “I don’t have time” as a very automatic reaction. I often say it, but when the words come out I don’t like it. I’d rather be true to myself and admit that it has more to do with prioritisation than not having time.
I am not an expert at saying the right things all the time, and I don’t expect it of myself either. What I know is that I prefer to have influence over what comes into my mind, and what I say. And a way of caring and giving kindness to myself is to bring awareness to the words I use.
It is a good thing to treat yourself as your best friend. You are with you your whole life. Know you can choose to be kind in the way you speak to yourself. When using kinder and more inviting words within, notice how you speak kinder words more easily to people around you too.