Remember when you were younger, you were told to ‘mind your language’ This was often in reference to either bad words or perhaps your tone of voice when speaking to your elders. It was a way of reminding you (or admonishing you) about how you should speak in public, or to parents or teachers.
Fast forward to present day and I am on a holiday and I am reminded of this old fashioned phrase, but in a different context.
Here I am on holiday on a cruise ship in the middle of the Mediterranean. Yep, life is very good and I am enjoying every single second, either basking in the sun or going ashore on yet another adventure. As I embarked on yet another excursion, I became aware of a conversation that was happening next to me. Loud enough for me to hear clearly, I decided to eavesdrop. It went something like this:
“How you feeling today?”
“Ok, I woke up feeling like I didn’t want to get up”
“Yeah, I woke up feeling the same”
“I always feel this way when I wake up”
“Me too, just starts the day badly”
“Yeah, I already feel a little agro before the I get out of bed”
At this point, I moved away, as it wasn’t a conversation that I wanted to listen to any more, but it got me thinking… how do I feel when I wake up? The next morning, I decided to take my emotional temperature, to see how I felt. It was actually by the time I hit the shower that I remembered what my homework was. How was I feeling? Well, I was up and I was in the shower. I like having showers, so I guess I was happy. It was then I started thinking about the power of words and the language that we use in conversations and what we say to ourselves. How do we want to be in this world? The conversation that I had overheard, had happened several hours after the initial wake up, yet it was still relevant for this person to discuss it, bringing the negative feelings into the current moment.
Now I am no Zen master, but after years of delivering the Watch Your Body Language workshop with Maria Teresa Stone, it dawned on me that perhaps we also need to watch our verbal communication; the conversations that we have with ourselves and then repeat to others on a daily basis. Do we give a commentary on every ache, pain or discomfort or can we give those a little less air time and a bit more to how positive we feel? For example, if your left knee is sore, then it is unpleasant, but how good does the right knee feel? I remember doing this practice (because it took work, not to focus on the partially torn ligament in one knee) so that I could think about things working well in my body. I have also noticed the little reminders that I get when I embark on a conversation that is not positive, how the subject gets changed or the phone rings and something distracts me. I am reminded then that I was not focusing on something that made me happy. Minding your language is more about your own self care, rather than making others less offended.