Slowing Down To Speak Authentically
I've recently been considering my tendency to speak fast. I've always had the tendency and most people seem to accept it as part of my personality, as did I until recently.
I believe most of us speed up our speech when we're nervous; such as in public speaking. Mine tends to be more pervasive, especially if I've had too much caffeine! However, in continuing to learn about mindfulness and emotional intelligence, I would like to learn to slow down. I have a hunch that the fast pace I tend to do most everything in correlates with the speed of my speech. Haven't you noticed that the most high energy people are also the ones that speak the fastest? And sometimes (but not always) the loudest?
I recently recognized that to speak fast, to hurry, to rush, is to force speech (thoughts) onto others. So, to slow down, to be mindful of what I'm thinking and saying (and doing), feels more respectful to others, and this is why I'd like to practice slowing down.
When I back up to consider why I speak fast (when it's not out of nervousness or anxiety), I believe it's an insecurity that the person (people) I'm speaking with may not want to hear what I have to say. While deep seeded and long standing, I protect myself by "forcing" my words out quickly to be sure I'm heard. This, of course, is a fallacy; if someone doesn't want to hear what I have to say, my pace, tone, pitch, and/or volume won't matter. This I know from experience as I've also been in the company of people who speak over me and interrupt to which I simply check out, even when I'm standing right in front of them.
This is my journey; to slow down and be mindful of my thoughts and emotions so that I can respectfully and authentically engage in meaningful conversation.
In what ways can you enhance your conversations?
Back up a minute!
I'm going to challenge you to consider your grumpiness. I'm not talking about what comes after grumpy, anger and resentment, I'm talking about an outward, irritated demeanor.
Have you ever stopped to consider what came before grumpy? Do you blame something or someone outside of yourself? Perhaps the dishes are still in the sink even though you told your child to do them. Or there was a long line at the bank. Or perhaps someone else was grumpy and you decided you wanted a piece of that action and put on your best grumpy face, too. Life was fine then something or someone did something that didn't fit into your comfortable world view and you became grumpy.
So what is grumpy? What are you saying to others when you're grumpy? What are others saying to you when they're grumpy? What benefit comes from treating people in a grumpy manner? And I ask again; what came before grumpy?
Grumpiness, or the outward expression of irritation, is a signal to ourselves that some particular need of ours is not being met and we have not taken productive, actionable steps to take care of it. Instead we show the world that we're not happy and it's up to other people to make changes in what they're doing so that we can get back to being comfortable. While grumpy, we blame, label, criticize, and compare others to get them to comply with what we want rather than taking a step back, considering what precipitated the grumpiness, and taking responsibility for our needs. Grumpiness may even be a threat to others; comply or stronger emotional outbursts will follow.
In the above examples, it is our need to have order and cleanliness, not necessarily our children's so either doing it ourselves or finding a better way to request investment in a clean home from our children might be considered. At the bank, perhaps we're in a hurry to be somewhere so our need was a swift transaction; it was our responsibility to provide adequate time, it is not the bank teller's fault that you're now running late. And if you took on being grumpy because so-and-so was grumpy (she started it!), you might want to consider if your emotions are often influenced by what others are displaying. If you tend to match or attempt to fix or change the outward expression of others, it's time to take personal responsibility for your own feelings and needs.
I challenge you to bring awareness to your grumpiness. What can you take responsibility for?
When I received this testimonial from Corrin it left me speechless. I'm unable to fully express my gratitude for her kind words, transparency, and confidence in me.
Having the opportunity to witness self esteem elevate as a previously insurmountable goal is met, and then surpassed, is truly a gift. While Corrin may not know it (yet), her kindness, trust, and tenacity has had a powerful lasting impact on me.
How amazing is the opportunity to grow through a shared relational experience?!
"I’ve been working with Holly since June 2014 and I’ve come to realize that this isn’t just a job for her – this is her calling. She took the time to learn about me as a person, to understand my fitness goals and she developed a unique plan to help me achieve them. In my first six months, Holly taught my muscles to stay balanced. For the first time in my life, I can put socks on while standing up! I can do push-ups, something I used to view as completely impossible! Holly helps me take pride in these accomplishments, and encourages me to continue surpassing my own expectations. Fitness junkies can be intimidating to some, which can act as a barrier to growth both physically and spiritually. Holly isn’t a fitness junkie, she’s a wellness junkie which I’ve discovered is completely different. She is concerned with the whole person, not just the physical body. She is more than a trainer and coach, she is a true friend who genuinely cares about her clients and dedicates her energy to helping them grow as humans. This is more than working out – knowing Holly is truly a gift, and I encourage anyone given an opportunity to work with her to take that opportunity."
Two years ago I wrote a poem. It was simply with me when I woke up one morning. I quickly wrote it down and shared it with the person I thought was meant to have it. In being reminded of it recently, I read it with different eyes and see that I wrote it for myself. As I share it with others, they read it with themselves in mind. I hope you see yourself in it, too.
more than anything
what you feel
what makes you
i miss you.
How do you feel when someone tells you what to do? How about when you’re told what you “should” do? Is there a difference?
“You should use Tylenol not Advil.” “You should cut your hair and donate it.” “You should put on a few pounds.” These are just a few of the things I’ve been told I should do recently.
What about statements like: “You never call me!” “Oh, so you do know my phone number.” “You did it right.” And “You never listen to me!”
What do all of these statements have in common? They all come from a language of emotional shame rather than emotional respect.
When we grow up in homes that speak the language of emotional shame it can be difficult to recognize; we’re used to everyone telling one another what to do, what they should be doing differently, and whether what they’re doing is right or wrong.
What causes some people wake up to the fact that constant fighting in order to maintain one’s status doesn’t feel good and yet others never do? Walking on egg shells in hopes of avoiding criticisms, judgements, and blame doesn’t feel comfortable either yet some people choose to continue the life long drama of who’s winning and who’s losing, who’s in charge and who’s not.
Sometimes it seems easier for us to notice this type of communication at work. We seem to take more offense at someone not particularly close to us giving orders, criticizing, and blaming us. I recently shared an article on how successful people deal with toxic people and in response have heard that many of you work with people just like the tyrant depicted in the article. If you pay attention, I bet you can find it closer to home than that.
I’d like to challenge you by reversing your perspective on that article; as easy as it is to name people you work or associate with as toxic, what if some people think of you when reading the article? Ouch! It’s more comfortable to be the martyr than it is to be the transgressor, isn’t it? Ultimately, who wants to fall into either of those roles?
From these familiar interactions, we learn to use judgements, comparisons, blame, and labels in order to keep ourselves in the top dog position… “She’s fat.” “I can do a better job than him.” “It’s your fault I’m mad.” “You always do this!” And “You never do what I ask.”
Whether or not you’re accustomed to thinking or saying shaming comments to others, you might recognize the thoughts that run through your mind about your own behaviors; the “I should’s.” For instance, “That was stupid,” and “I should know better.”
There are yet more pieces to the emotional language puzzle, but now that you’ve heard some of the components, I’d like to give their equal spoken in an emotionally respectful way. These are alternatives to the comments stated in the first paragraph. See if you can feel and hear the difference:
“Perhaps Tylenol would help, have you tried that?”
“Your hair is so long, have you ever considered donating it?”
“I’m worried that you’re losing weight, are you?”
For those of us that grew up learning the language of emotional shame, it can be difficult to learn there’s another way. We’ve built our world around making sure we stay on top, always. Of course this means everyone else has to stay beneath us, always. What happens when (not if, but when) we fall? Or worse yet, someone pushes us off? We fight and scream to get back on top, which means others have to go down. However subtle, this dynamic happening in homes and offices everywhere.
That said, we don’t all speak emotional shame (and if you’re thinking you don’t, consider the idea that placing yourself above this skill is putting yourself on top, affirming you most likely do) and even if we do, we can learn and practice emotionally respectful language. I won’t lie, it’s not easy! It isn’t pleasant looking in the mirror noticing how you speak to and think about others. For those of you that can identify this quality more easily in your self talk, it’s an impossibility for you not to be equally hard on others… pay attention to your “should’s.”
With emotional respect you’ll value individual differences and feel valued for your individuality rather than feeling compared. You’ll understand another person’s story and feel understood rather than feeling judged. You’ll be asked for desired changes from others and learn to ask, rather than demanding and criticizing. You’ll seek solutions to problems rather than blaming or feeling blamed. You’ll hear “I appreciate your perspective” rather than “You’re right.” You’ll know that you’re not perfect, they’re not perfect, and it’s okay. You’ll feel safe and comfortable around others because they’re authentic and in charge of their own feelings, thoughts, and behaviors, and so are you.
As a personal trainer and a parent I’ve found a hotbed of opportunity to practice not using praise. What’s wrong with praise you ask? Well, it’s the flip side of the “That was bad” and “That was stupid” coin. Just as no one has the right to label you as “bad,” “stupid,” or “ugly” (judgements), no one has the right to label you “good,” “smart,” or “pretty.” We can, however, say things like “I love the effort I see you’re putting into that exercise.”
As a recent example of this, my oldest son excitedly told me he earned the highest score in his class on his physics test. My instinct was to tell him “Great job!” Instead, I asked “How do you feel about that?” He very enthusiastically replied that he was excited to see all of his studying pay off, to which I was able to respond with “I feel happy hearing the pride and relief in your voice,” allowing him ownership of his achievement.
So how do you change the language you’ve so adeptly learned if it isn’t the emotionally respectful kind? The first step is awareness and in order to have awareness you have to be present. Presence, as you know from previous blogs, means mindfulness. If you truly want to change how you think and relate to people, you have to be present, there is no other way.
My challenge to you is twofold: First is to practice being present (mindfulness) so that you can do the second part which is paying attention to your thoughts and words. If you’d really like to jump start your presence in the world, start a practice of mindfulness meditation. Aloha!
If one is estranged from oneself, then one is estranged from others too.
If one is out of touch with oneself, then one cannot touch others.
~ Anne Morrow Lindbergh
Learner and sharer of all things healthy, active, esteem building, growth promoting, witty and Hawaiian