Saturday, December 3, 2011

Don't Box People In (Yourself Included)

The words we say to ourselves and to the people we love are very powerful. The simple task of becoming more aware and catching yourself boxing people in can cause wonderful changes in your day-to-day quality of life. Let me give you a few examples.

In a relationship with someone you care about, never tell them, "you never......" or "you always......" It makes the other person feel like giving up. I normally stop couples mid-sentence in couples therapy and ask them to rephrase the statement about their partner. It can make a huge difference with your partner if you tell them "you never spend time with me," rather than the more encouraging, "I really like it when you spend time with me, let's work out a way to spend more time together playing."

Keep hope alive in your relationships, by using solution-focused words, rather than blaming statements. It helps to comment on relationship conflicts in a mutual way, for instance, "Let's not fight like this. How about we both cool down and begin again later?" Try your best to make "I" statements, such as "I like", "I don't like", etc., rather than "you" statements, i.e. "You are being sarcastic. You hurt my feelings, etc. Don't tell other people how they feel or what they think. Each person deserves the respect of having their own thoughts and feelings, and it's perfectly okay if they are different from yours. A healthy dose of mutual respect and curiosity about the other person always helps here. Even if you have been together for many years, don't assume you know everything about the other person. You don't.

Be careful with your self-talk as well. I have worked with brillant, loving, and accomplished people who are often engaged in hateful internal dialogue. It is important to good mental health to be your own best friend, seeing your strengths and weaknesses in a balanced way. Even something you do not like about yourself can be fit into an affirmation for encouraging positive change. For instance, instead of "I will never meet someone," it would be better to work with a mantra that "Everyday I am becoming more friendly and warm towards others, I am letting people closer and allowing them to see the genuine me." Instead of "I hate my body," we need to replace it with, "Everyday I am becoming more loving and caring of my body, exercising it, feeding it healthy foods, and loving it the way I love the people closest to me."

Words are powerful, and create dynamics and feelings. Make sure your words don't box you in, or the people you care about, so that you can build new and healthier possibilities for tomorrow. All our lives, if all goes well, we keep evolving and developing our skills and our spirit. You dont want to box out all the wonderful possibilities for you to love deeper, and be a happier, healthier, and more mature person tomorrow. Life and people need hope; make sure your language choices allow room for it!

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