Have you ever given much thought to the things you say on a regular basis? I can’t say that I have, outside of the occasional cuss words I can’t seem to kick (some are just downright fun to say!).
I am finding, however, that there are three phrases that are doing considerable damage to my quality of life. And that is why I hereby swear off the following three phrases:
Can we be honest with each other for a minute and admit how incredibly manipulative this phrase is? I am the queen of “I’m fine”. I use it nearly every day. Here’s the problem with it:
If I say it, you can bet I am 100% not fine.
What I really mean is, “I’m about to lose my cool, but I refuse to admit it. Instead, I’m going to pout and make you feel bad for me, and if you don’t bend over backward to make me feel better it’s going to be a very, very long night.”
Pretty ugly, right?
In my defense, I did not realize this is what I was doing until I had lunch with a friend the other day. She was telling me how she recently reminded her daughter of their house rule on using the phrase “I’m Fine”. This is their rule:
“If you say “I’m fine” in this house, you will be treated as if you are fine. We will not run after you. We will not beg you to tell us what is wrong. If you say you are fine, then we are going to believe you and act accordingly. If you are indeed not fine and you want your problem to be addressed, you need to reach out and be honest with us. Tell us your needs and they will be met. But you cannot manipulate us into meeting your needs. That’s not how this family works.”
What a GUT punch! I suddenly understood that I have been guilty of manipulating my family into meeting my needs, and then punishing them with my bad mood if they didn’t play along.
Well, that stops today. I am banishing the phrase “I’m fine” from my vocabulary and replacing it with the following:
“I don’t want to talk about it, yet.”- There are definitely times when I’m not ready to discuss what it is that is bothering me. Instead of denying a problem, though, I am honest that there *is* a problem, but I need more time to work through it on my own.
“I’m feeling upset because…”- Upon further soul searching, I’ve realized that I use the phrase “I’m fine” when I know I’m being irrational or dramatic about something. I don’t want to confess what it is that made me upset because I know how ridiculous it is. Regardless, it *has* made me upset and I need to share my frustration in a healthy way. Using “I statements” is a great way to do that. It takes ownership of my feelings without placing the blame on someone else. I can be honest about my feelings without making my family feel they are to blame for my irrational pain.
Last month, I wrote a post on my personal blog called, “My Word for the Year is “No”. I wrote it in response to the incredibly full calendar I was taking into 2018. As I imagined, saying “no” is difficult for a people pleaser such as myself. So, I had to learn a new strategy to help me fend off new commitments.
One of those strategies is to replace an automatic “Yes, I’d love to” with “That sounds like so much fun, let me check in with my husband and get back to you.”
This is not because I need my husband’s permission before I agree to things. This is because I need his perspective before I agree to things. Deferring to my husband is great for a few reasons:
- I need to create some time and space to consider the offer, and using this line creates that for me.
- I actually value my husband’s opinion. Aside from myself, my husband is the most affected by my commitments. He has a full view of my current life situation. He knows what brings me joy and what drains me. And He is aware of his own needs and commitments, and how my decisions might affect those. There is truly no better person to filter these opportunities through.
Making this simple change has already helped me from accumulating more onto my already packed out plate. So sayonara “Yes”. You just get me into trouble.
Research has shown that women are much more likely than men to apologize for, well, just about everything. It seems most of us were raised to be people pleasers, and we tend to see a greater number of offenses in our day than our male counterparts. As a result, we apologize for things that we simply do not need to apologize for.
I was an avid apologizer until I read this quote:
“Lately, I’ve been replacing ‘I’m sorry’ with ’thank you’. Instead of, ‘Sorry I’m late,’ I’ll say, ‘Thank you for waiting for me.’ Instead of ‘Sorry for being such a mess,’ I’ll say, ‘Thank you for loving me and caring about me unconditionally.’ It has not only shifted the way I think and feel about myself, but has also improved my relationships with others who now get to receive my gratitude instead of my negativity.” – Unknown
I love the slight change in perspective she discusses here. Gratitude is something you can’t have enough of, and instead of begging my friends for their forgiveness over silly things, I’d love to begin telling them how I am thankful for their grace and understanding.
It all comes down to this.
At the heart of each of these phrases is the issue of being kind to one’s self. It’s kinder to allow yourself some room to breathe on your calendar. It’s kinder to be honest about how you feel. And it’s kinder to give yourself some grace and focus on the positive.
What are some things you say that tend to have a negative effect on your life? Is there a way to tweak or replace that phrase? It seems like a little thing, but I have learned that our words can give life or bring death to us and those around us. I believe it’s worth asking which of those two options our words are bringing to us and do our best to speak life over ourselves and others.