How can simple things you say affect your life in such complicated ways? More often than not, it is the small things that can cause the biggest ripples in your life. Today we will take a look at how important it is to be mindful of how you speak.
My Aha Moment
For the longest time in my life I struggled to remember peoples names when I first met them and I wasn’t alone. More often than not when meeting people we would discuss how we were so bad at remembering names. A few minutes later I would almost always find myself wondering what that person’s name was that I just spoke with.
Then it happened, I came across a book that told me to stop saying that I was bad at remembering names and to replace that phrase with something akin to, “I was working on it.” At first I was very doubtful about this, but before long I had an opportunity to test it out.
My daughter was invited to a birthday party by one of her grade school classmates one Saturday afternoon. It was just her and I attending and I didn’t know a single person there at all. As the party went I began to meet people and with each one I told them I was working on remembering names better and by golly it worked! Later that night I was still able to rattle off the names of over a dozen people I had met that day.
This whole situation really got me to thinking about how the things I say can really affect my life. All this time I was literally telling myself that I was going to forget people’s names and I did. When I started telling my self that I was getting better at remembering then I did! Such a simple little concept, yet it had such complex ramifications.
Taking it a Step Further
Now that I had a basic understanding of this concept I started to see how else I could apply it in my life. I decided that I would start being mindful of how I was talking to my kids as the next step in this growth process I was going through.
I realized pretty quickly that both my wife and I were saying things that were not helping our kids out as much as we thought. The biggest thing that I found was that when we paid them a compliment such as, “you’re smart” or “great job” that we were only rewarding them for the end result and not the effort that they put into it. Wait though… isn’t that a good things to say to them?
Instead of just rewarding an end product, which could lead to doing things quickly just to get the end praise, my wife and I started praising the kids for the efforts that they had put into whatever it was. We would tell them that we were impressed with how hard they had worked on the project or that we were proud of their efforts.
Now I think you can see that by praising hard work and their efforts, my kids learned to do the work and put in the effort. Compare that to them rushing to get to the end so that they can get the end praise again. See the difference?
Another Angle on the Same Perspective
Most of us have had a moment where it seemed that life was moving in slow motion through an incident. Almost as if you were seeing things with total clarity for what was happening. I had one of those moments when my family was sitting down for dinner once.
My youngest, Alex, had a bad habit of drinking some of his milk and then letting it sit right on the edge of the table versus setting it back down behind his plate. One night in frustration my wife said to him, “you’re going to spill your milk, now please move it to where it should be.”
This was that moment where time slowed down for me and I could see clearly what was about to happen. My son looked at his cup of milk and as he reached for it, he knocked it over spilling it. I had heard what was said by my wife and knew the results before they had even happened.
Just as in the first example with remembering names, when my wife told my son he was going to spill his milk he did. While he did not intentionally spill it, he did exactly what his mother told him he would do. We talked about it right away and discussed ways that she could have phrased it better to avoid the unwanted result of spilled milk.
Share Your Thoughts and Experiences
I hope that I have been able to convey my message to you here today, however if I haven’t please leave a comment below with your thoughts and or questions and I will work with you to get them clarified.
Also, we would love to hear your stories with how just changing a few words made a difference in your life. Please leave your stories below as yet another example to help those that pass by here.
James W D