If you can't say something nice don't say anything at all.
A mature person has self awareness, discipline, and discernment to speak only words of encouragement, kindness, life, and love.
This is incredibly counter culture. Especially in our reality TV driven world. This is where it's important to also remember that influence and example are the most powerful teachers. So while we can talk a lot about speaking kind words if we are constantly under the influence of examples speaking negative then we're in a losing battle.
Whoever desires to love life and see good days, let him keep his tongue from evil and his lips from speaking deceit. (1 Peter 3:10)
Notice the Negative
You gotta notice something before you can change it. This is an essential step in the Joy Guide journey that I lead because EVERY SINGLE CHANGE starts with awareness. So, put the thought in your head, "I'm going to notice every time I say something negative about myself, others, a situation, or an event." It's like seeing a commercial for a car and suddenly seeing that car EVERYWHERE; you won't be able to help but notice your own negative habits once you decide to!
Modify the Negative
After you've noticed how small or large your negative habit is start modifying what you are saying. When a negative comment comes out of your mouth change the end of the sentence to modify it to a positive, or at least less negative, statement. This is an important practice for external and internal dialogue.
"I am so bad at this...." notice the negative and add, "...today."
Stopping the Negative
Once you're noticing negative habits you'll be able to stop them from coming out of your mouth. It's much simpler to stop yourself from speaking the yuck out loud than it is to stop the silent self-talk in your head. The negative self-talk inside is lethal, though. Literally a life-long undertaking, but 1000% worth every effort. If there is one gift I could give all of us it would be the power to stop negative self talk RIGHT NOW. For those who believe in the power of prayer /mediation start asking for the internal awareness to overcome this particular self-wounding practice.
Replace with Positive
When you notice the negative start to come up like word vomit switch gears. Find something positive to say. Give light, life, and edification to yourself and those around you. Not only will this result in you being more joyful and encouraged, but it will make you a magnet for others! People cannot resist someone who speaks with genuine, positive energy.
Let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger. (James 1:19)
Beyond the Negative
What if everything that you said to yourself and others was not just harmless but actually UPLIFTING?! What if everything you spoke in your head or out loud was encouraging and dropped knowledge?! So big. That's the goal right there; for all the things I say to be edifying and life-giving. Gotta seriously slow down my mouth if that's going to be my future.
Slowing down is a major theme in maturity. Slowing down allows us to discern and form a conclusion before speaking. In fact, you don't have to speak right away at all. If you aren't sure what you're going to say is helpful, positive, edifying, or constructive just don't speak yet. Silence is ok. I know! What?! Yes. YOU get to decide how quickly you respond to anything. You get to take a beat, a breath, a week, to sit on, meditate on, pray on whatever it is that needs a response from you.
Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up... (Ephesians 4:29)
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