Words are powerful! They can inspire or challenge, encourage or damage. When we speak, we can build people up or we can tear them down. And we gradually start to believe the things we are told – those phrases and attitudes become our beliefs and part of our inner dialogue. This is why I believe it is so important to speak respectfully to our children – the way that we talk to them teaches them how they should talk to themselves.
“A child’s inner monologue does not just happen; it is born out of what they hear from other people… When kids hear words of praise and encouragement, they learn to respect themselves.”
– L, Ashar, 2012, Who Do You Think You’re Kidding? –
But, it’s not just children who are moulded by words. All humans are designed to learn and evolve and so we need to be careful how we speak to fellow adults too, and, crucially, ourselves. With the start of a new year just around the corner, I have decided to be more intentional about what I say to myself so I have created the Intentional Words Challenge…
As someone who has had a very negative internal dialogue in the past (“You idiot! What did you do that for? I can’t believe you’re so stupid!”), I am trying really hard to fill my girls up with positivity. I want them to be confident in their abilities and believe that they have worth. I want them to be kind to themselves.
I don’t mean telling them they’re great at something when they’re not. I mean actively looking out for reasons to praise them; trying to catch them being good or doing something well, and highlighting it.
- When they’re kind, I tell them so
- When they’ve coped well with a difficult situation, I tell them so
- When they’ve worked hard on a picture, I tell them so
This leads them to think, “I’m a kind person” or “I’m resilient” or “I’m a hard worker.” The more positive feedback they can get, the stronger they will feel and the greater belief they will have in themselves.
I’ve also started getting my girls to say positive things to themselves out loud so that they can get used to talking to themselves in an encouraging way.
The Intentional Words Challenge
Last year, Stephanie, from Life At 139, posted a New Years Resolution post on her blog. But she had this ingenious idea of selecting a single intentional word as her resolution, rather than a specific goal. I thought it was brilliant! It’s not overly specific so it can be applied to lots of different scenarios. And yet it is still inspirational and something to work towards. Stephanie’s word of intention was:
I love this! I think there is an implication that she’s happy with the way things are going and that she wants to develop even further. There is the idea of growth and health and improvement and happiness.
Anyway, this got me thinking – what do I want to be intentional about in 2018? How do I want to develop? What do I need to work on? What intentional words should I gift myself? What could I empower myself with?
My intentional words
I’m always rubbish at sticking to New Years Resolutions. Last year, after an epic fail at the church carol service, I decided I was going to practise my flute for 10 minutes everyday and get back the dexterity and stamina I had as a music student.
… Well, erm… this year’s carol service is just 3 days away and my flute has come out of its box ONCE all year! Hahaha.
So yes resolutions aren’t really my thing.
But I think if I listed some intentional words and chose one to be my mantra for the year, that might be more attainable. It would be something to push towards. It would be a message of positivity that I sprinkle over my head.
So I’ve had a think and the word I have chosen is:
As a perfectionist, I heap a lot of unnecessary pressure on myself. I am very driven and always have a long list of things to work on, which can be a good thing, but it can also make me feel permanently inadequate.
“Be” is a call to live in the moment, to be content, to stop worrying. It tells me to take things as they come and deal with what is happening now rather than worrying about the future. To “be” is to be mindful of the present and to gently bob up and down on the waves of life rather than fighting against the tide or racing the waves.
Over to you
I’ve made a list of other intentional words to inspire you to take up this challenge too. What would you choose?
What do you think of my one-word resolution? Is there a word on the list that you could work with for 2018? Are you the sort of person to make New Years Resolutions or do you think they’re a waste of time? Please let me know in the comments section below.