Speaking my mind had never been a problem for me growing up, my Italian temper provided ample opportunities for me to go around putting people in their place. I was known for being outspoken, loud, opinionated and often times….mean. It was a part of my identity and something I didn’t even realize could be changed. I assumed I was providing the people in my life a service by keeping them aware of their faults in ways I thought were clever and quick, but I realize now- they were nothing more than below the belt jabs. I had created a language of my own which I was very fluent in.
The language of judging, shaming, belittling and being condescending toward others who I felt weren’t keeping me comfortable enough with their life choices and actions.
As I drifted into my thirties I began to notice something had shifted in the way I would communicate. Maybe it was because I was a mother of two now and my world had shifted from my own self serving space to one of awareness about my environment.
Maybe it was because I had two human beings under my care now who were watching my every move and I wanted to showcase the very best of my heart to them. Maybe I wanted to take part in creating a more loving world for them.
Maybe it was because I wanted people to be nice to them.
Maybe it was because I wanted people to be compassionate toward them.
Maybe it was because I wanted people to be forgiving toward them.
Maybe it was because I wanted them to feel they were worthy in the world.
Maybe I wanted them to know that they mattered
And then I realized, it wasn’t just my children I wanted to have experience all that love and kindness from others.
It was me too.
I didn’t realize that this native tongue I’d spoken in all my life, this language of spite, jealousy, critique, harsh hatred and poison masked in humor was the language of my inner self. It was how I spoke to myself on a daily basis. For as long as I could remember, my inner dialogue was one of complete disgust. I was never skinny enough. I was never fast enough. I was never smart enough. I was never creative enough. I did everything wrong. I was lazy. I was boring. I was plain and ordinary and nothing special.
This is how I spoke to myself, and this is what spilled over into my communication with others.
I depended on Jon to love me enough to keep me in a space of worthiness. I quickly realized that even my husband couldn’t fill the hole in my heart. Pieces and glimpses of myself through his eyes would be like tossing handfuls of pebbles into the Grand Canyon. It was impossible to fill the hole of self doubt.
So I tried to have my children fill the hole. And their love was like bringing a dump truck to the Grand Canyon and dumping a load of bricks into the huge rocky abyss. Their love had a little more depth and weight to it, but it still didn’t fill the hole.
So my quest began to discover what would fill this hole? What would be the “thing” that would finally lift this darkness of doubt from my soul and help guide me toward a more compassionate self and in turn, more compassionate world?
The work wasn’t easy. Change never is. But I slowly started to discover that if I wanted a world of kindness around myself and my family- it had to begin within.
I had to love myself before I could learn to love others.
And that seems like a huge leap when you are so far from the perfection you desperately seek.
“I’ll love myself when I lose 30 lbs.”
“I’ll love myself when I keep the house clean for 2 weeks straight.”
“I’ll love myself when I make a home cooked meal at least 4 times a week.”
“I’ll love myself when I make more money following my creative dream.”
“I’ll love myself when that client books me.”
“I’ll love myself when I’m a better mom.”
“I’ll love myself when I feel like everyone around me is happy with me.”
You see how endless this is? How impossible this is? How backwards this is? The key for me was realizing that NOTHING good could manifest in my life until I believed I was worthy of receiving it. Let that sink in. God was not able to let the goodness glide into my life and into my heart until I believed I was in a place of allowing it. I was blocking myself from my potential while I waited to be perfect.
So as one who’s never been kind to herself, I started with being kind to others. I started by accepting the fact that the words which left my mouth mattered. And I could use those words to either uplift others, OR to tear them to shreds. This was the first step toward freedom. I made an effort everyday to be kind, and as I learned this new language for the people around me, I felt that love returned to me from those I loved and even strangers.
You need to learn to say the things you might feel uncomfortable saying. The nice things. The small things you feel may not even matter to that person- they need to be said. Because if you are feeling the instinct to say them, that means they need to hear them. I believe that is how God speaks to us here on earth. Through our words.
Tell her she looks pretty.
Tell him he did a good job on the laundry.
Smile at the woman handing your receipt and Target and compliment her.
Tell your waitress you like her hair.
Anything good that comes up: Say it.
Say it before your ego blocks it and you try to remain safe in your “cool coat” of armor.
I know it feels weird at first, it feels silly, but I promise you, it will get easier and easier the more you do it.
One example I have is a story about how a total stranger used her words to fill my heart in a time when I wanted to die.