I’ve written about identity before but this is a topic that can’t be addressed often enough for many of us.
Today though, I just want to talk about one aspect of identity and that is how we speak of ourselves to others.
We do it without even realizing it, but those little phrases pop up again and again:
- “I’m crazy, I know…”
- “oh, stupid me”
- (the precursor of the title) “I’m fat”
- “you’re gonna think I’m an idiot but…”
Sure, none of these is a huge damning announcement; no, they’re just little dings, bites, chips, scratches, that erode our status and confidence.
I’ve written about Nonviolent Communication (NVC) before, but a very quick reprisal would be to say that it’s a way to become more honest, specific, open and judgement-free in our communication with others. There is no reason why we couldn’t practice that same approach with ourselves.
Speaking purely for myself I will say that NVC takes some time to get used to and may even take me a very long time to master but the benefits are invaluable.
I have learned that simply leaving out some phrases before I even speak still gets the point across without the judgment, the criticism, the snark.
The same thing works when we speak of ourselves to others. Think about it, leaving out the part that says “you’re gonna think…” immediately removes your own judgments of yourself and the other person (who knows for certain what they would think?) and doesn’t charge the moment with any undue influence.
Take a look in the mirror. You are not fat (or skinny, or too anything). You are a person.
You may be carrying more (or less weight) than you’d like or is optimal.
You may be showing your age in ways that only certain cultures actually give a damn about (so why buy into that hype?)
I am approaching my 64th birthday in a couple of months and each year I see more and more of my true age. The “oh, you look x years younger than you are” has gotten a smaller and smaller value for x.
I have prostate cancer, arthritis, cataracts; my hearing aids are getting stronger and stronger as I lose more of my hearing; I am a survivor of multiple forms of abuse; my recovery from addiction is a never-ending state. But none of that defines me. None of that is me.
My actions and reactions to the challenges of living – and the blessings of living – create the life I choose to have.
I am who I choose to be.