Tuesday, October 24, 2017

24. Removed the S words

A few days ago I wrote about how I've nurtured myself by adding words to my vocabulary as a form of meditation, focus, and kinder self-talk. Today, I am advocating for the removal of two S words. I experienced a marked improvement in my life and well-being when I removed the poisonous words: Should and Sorry.

Should is laced with guilt and obligation. When I found myself saying I "should" do something, it was inevitably a chore that did not bring me joy. A task hijacked by a word certain to keep me de-energized at best or in a foul mood at worst. I used to catch myself saying things like, "I should do the dishes...or the laundry...or go to the grocery." Those shoulds never inspired or motivated me. They made me less inclined to tackle the task at hand.

The toxic cocktail of should becomes more concentrated when the word is used to guide behavior as it pertains to relationships. “I should call...visit...ignore certain bad behavior...” These shoulds are deadly to health and well-being. Should can lead one into vulnerable, unsafe emotional territory. Should keeps up appearances. By removing should from my personal lexicon, I let my well-being and energy resources guide how I spend my time.

As for the word sorry, well, my writing partner and I have a whole book to say about that awful word. But until it's written, I'll say this: girls and women are socialized to apologize for everything. Ladies, have you listened to us? Do you notice what the circumstances are when you say, “I'm sorry”? If you're like me, you'll find yourself saying you're sorry when you pass someone in a tight hallway at work, when you want to make a point, share an opinion, or disagree. I'm Sorry. I'm Sorry for being Sorry. It was an appalling discovery. We apologize for our very existence!

When I stopped saying sorry, I began hearing how often my daughter said the word, and it was crushing. With time and awareness, I have helped her reduce her usage. We talk about how the word sorry is reserved for times when we have done harm to someone. Hurt feelings, caused an accident, etc. Do you realize how infrequently those instances occur in daily life?

I mother myself by being mindful of the words I say and do not say. I act with integrity, not obligation. I am accountable for my words and actions when I have caused hurt or a problem, but I do not apologize for things that fall outside those important lines.

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