Did you ever have one of your English papers passed back filled with red marks; edits and deletions shaping your original script into something more cohesive and descriptive? If you’re at all like me, you first reacted with a bit of defensiveness tinged with embarrassment – “I thought the paper was good.” But then, upon reading the revised essay, you begrudging admit that the revised version is better. Maybe even much better.
The external hand wielding the marking pen gives you the gift of perspective, allowing you to see the patterns in your writing and the fall-back phrases that are too often used. The editing process removes what doesn’t better the whole and selects the best choice of similar words to express an idea.
Have you ever paid attention to your internal narrative, the story you tell to and about yourself? Have you ever noticed a pattern in the words you select and the phrases you repeat?
Often we unwittingly craft a negative internal narrative, repeating past injuries and berating ourselves. Spinning yarns into straightjackets that keep us bound and gagged, prisoners of ours pasts and our beliefs. We excuse others while we abuse ourselves, framing our choices as worse than they are.
The words we choose to say to others have influence.
The words we choose to say to ourselves have power.
When we repeatedly hear the same words about ourselves, we begin to believe them. Even if they aren’t true.
Pay attention to the words you use to describe yourself. Are you selecting the best term? For example, feel the difference between “depressed” and “sad.” Sure, they are technically synonyms but the connotation is vastly different. Depressed is heavy, permanent. A condition. Whereas sad says, “I feel badly right now.” It’s a mood. Ephemeral. Even if you are depressed, try renaming it as sadness in your script. Keep repeating it and you’ll start to believe it.
Look to see what other words or phrases you can replace –
“I shouldn’t feel that way” becomes “I feel this way right now and that’s okay.”
“I’m lonely” turns into “I’m feeling separated from others right now.”
“I’m stupid” is replaced with “I made the best decision I could in the moment and I’m learning.”
“I’m rehashing” is exchanged for “I’m processing.”
“I’m broke” is retired and “That doesn’t fit in to my personal wealth goal” is brought in to fill its place.
“I’ll never find love again” is crossed out and “I am open to receiving love again” is written in above.
“My life sucks” is modified with the phrase “right now.”
Edit your personal narrative to create a story of compassion. A script of forgiveness and learning and hope.
The words you choose have power.
Use that power to shape the life you want.
You’re worth it.