Just like the old proverb, ‘You are what you eat’ (Hippocrates) implies our physical health is a representation of the nutrition we consume, the proverb ‘we think what we become’ (Buddha) implies how we speak and what we think is a representation of our mental health.. I was challenged with a task a few years back; to document everything I thought and spoke relating to myself, and the relationship I have with my perception of who I am over a seven day period.
The task’s intention?
To identify if the relationship was healthy or toxic.
I didn't like myself very much! If I was speaking about my body, I would say things like, “I wish I had bigger boobs, I hate my upper thighs and hips, I have shit skin”. If I was speaking about my fitness, I would say things like, “I’m such a slow old lady when it comes to running, I wish I could get my shit together and do better at the gassy WOD’s, I’m no good when it comes to gymnastics….” If I was speaking about my IQ, I would say things like, “I’m crap with numbers, my memory for technical jargon isn't the best, I’m a dreamer…”. Out of the time documented, at least 70% of it was spent in a negative conversation relating to how I felt about myself.
Usually, when we share these thoughts about ourselves with our peers, we are reassured and placated that these observations are false and we are awesome, functional people... retrospectively we know if someone came and spoke to us the way we speak to ourselves a majority of the time, those people would not be someone we’d choose to spend time with or call a friend. Thinking in positive undertones and relating to ourselves in a positive fashion are things that need to be practiced, because being negative is an inbuilt societal daily practice. The task made me realise I had no love for my body, the only one I had to live in for the rest of my life, and we had a bad relationship. This was not a relationship that I wanted to settle for.
To build a healthy positive relationship I started by practicing gratitude in the morning and in the evening. I picked three things…I was grateful to wake up in a body that was capable of taking me where I needed to go for the day, I was grateful for the pleasure it gave me when being with my partner before getting out of bed, I was grateful for it’s ability to feel the nice warm water of my morning shower. In the evening.. I picked three things again.. I was grateful I could train and benefit from the endorphins it generated, I was grateful for the ability to taste and consume delicious food throughout the day, and I was grateful to not be inhibited by any physical limitations on the things I wanted to do.
I committed to writing down my gratitude practice, in a small pocket note pad, for 90 days.
It was a challenge at first, some days were brutal in the sense that I had to contend with days where I had my menstrual cycle and lacked motivation, days where I was tired and overworked and unable to train, days that I didn’t feel like looking at myself in the mirror, I even missed some days in my note book. The outcome, following the initial practice, was a much improved relationship with myself. Celebrating what my body can do for me, having the daily habit of acknowledging gratitude for all the things I get to do because of it is, by far, a way healthier experience.
How we think about ourselves extends to our environment and the relationships we have with others as well. It stands to reason that if you are practicing negative self talk and it impacts your relationship with yourself, then practicing negative speech outwardly will dictate the kind of environment you are living into. Commiseration of negative opinions only serve to generate an environment of bad energy.
When you use gossip or a negative opinion you have to connect with another person, you are hot wiring that connection, instead of having vulnerable, open dialogue that contributes to you and the person you’re speaking with in a positive fashion. Instead you share an interaction charged with information that would cause harm if shared in the wider community. Author and speaker, Brene’ Brown, has began a worldwide movement of people invested in transforming this most human of practices; http://bit.ly/2xELDKp
If you are sharing info that you would not openly convey in a public forum, or worse yet, sharing info that is confidential and not yours to share, you are causing damage to both your trust in yourself but also to others within your community. Energy put out is returned in kind, to this way of thinking, if you spend your social time gossiping about what you view are other people’s shortcomings, you are creating a loop of energy to be returned in kind.
Consider this, sharing opinions about what you view as other people’s shortcomings are interactions being motivated by needs of validation and insecurity, that, when habitual, limit your own personal growth and authentic connection to other humans. How many times a day, a week, a month, do you enter into conversations that are self depreciating or depreciating toward others or situations or experiences? Energy invested into negative practices that do not generate positive return on investment.
Speak to yourself with love, speak to your community from a positively charged thoughtful mindset, speak to your experiences from a solution based mindset, practice this for thirty days.. take the bad days with the good and reflect on the impact…
‘What you think you become, what you feel you attract, what you imagine you create…’
When you converse in your community, is it to elevate others?
Do you invest your time and energy into positively manifesting an environment of support and acceptance OR do you generate negative energy by sharing judgements and assumptions?
Too many of us surrender our power to create the space we want to live in by shying away from self reflection… in my conversations, do I speak about others as I would want to be spoken about? Do I divulge information that is not mine to share? Do I speak for self validation to bolster my personal insecurities? All of these habits, that when practised consistently, lead to you generating a space that is superficial and vapid.
It is so much more challenging to be honest and share an issue with the person you have it with than to speak about it with others, with others you can commiserate and generate support on your judgements, but to share it with the actual person that the issue resides means you have to be courageous and subject to confrontation. The benefit of being brave means you will have the opportunity to evolve, be vulnerable and transform the interaction with that person.
In a time where free speech is being challenged and offense is too readily assumed to avoid being wrong or challenged, these positive mindful practices are becoming scarce.
It starts with a choice, to not say the sarcastic quip.. to have the uncomfortable conversation in the moment instead of stewing and having passive aggressive interactions at a later date.. It won’t always work, but for every time you react below the line is the opportunity in the next instance to be a better person. As you get better at the practice, these instances will become few and far between & you will grow in your ability to create a daily environment that is empowering for yourself and others.
In The Ox Box community everyone is on their own journey and we as a collective get the daily privilege of shining a light on each other in a positive manner to break the negative cycle, to sweat together and overcome our adversities, celebrate each individual’s journey, their successes and above all else be better human beings.