As a kid, I was taught the phrase “I’m rubber you’re glue, whatever you say bounces off me and sticks to you.” That’s nice in theory, but is that really true?
In my clinical practice I specialize in helping adults heal from painful and often traumatic experiences that occurred throughout their lives. Much of the healing work around trauma involves changing the cycles and patterns learned in the past and finding new ways of interacting in the world.
On a daily basis I hear about the messages people have been told that stick with them. People who were wounded by negative comments, sometimes intentionally said, sometimes said off-handedly and without much thought to how the statement would impact others.
You may have had an experience as a child where a friend, parent, or family member said something that has stuck with you, that repeats in your head to this day, and changes how you interact in the world. Possibly it changes your views about yourself or your belief about your capabilities or self-worth.
Unfortunately, because patterns are so invasive, many times you may find yourself saying the same negative comments to your child, friend, partner that you heard from your family when you were young.
Maybe a more accurate version of that childhood phrase would be “I’m glue and you’re glue, whatever you say sticks to me and sticks to you.” It’s hard to shake those negative comments and even harder to not repeat them to others!
Part of leading an authentic life is being truthful to who you are and genuinely expressing yourself. It’s important, vital, that you are sharing your thoughts, feelings and experiences with others! It’s this genuine expression that creates the deep interconnected relationships we desire.
Sometimes you might find that you get caught up in your own feelings and experiences and forget the impact of your words. You may honestly believe someone is acting “stupid”, but will calling them “stupid” strengthen or benefit that relationship? Will it help resolve the conflict you are experiencing or the frustration you’re currently feeling? Probably not.
Here’s a trick to you change those communication patterns:
Before you speak, THINK. Is it True? Is it Helpful? Is it Inspiring? Is it Necessary? Is it Kind?
Ready to do some self-evaluation? Grab some paper and jot down your thoughts to the following questions.
Think of a situation recently where you said words out of anger. Maybe it was with your kids, partner, or at work.
Take a moment to really reflect upon what words you said. What emotions were you feeling before and after this interaction? What outcome did you want from the situation and did your words help you get to your desired outcome?
Now take a few moments to use the “Before you speak… THINK” concept. Reflect if your words were true, helpful, inspiring, necessary and kind.
How would the interaction have differed if you had used words that were true, helpful, inspiring, necessary and kind?
How could you have expressed yourself differently in a way that showed respect for yourself and others and genuinely express your feelings, thoughts and needs?
What is one thing you are willing to change about future interactions?
Changing a pattern in your life takes practice and effort, especially if you have a history of experiencing trauma. Be kind to yourself, this may take some time.
This new way of interacting may not come easy at first. I can guarantee most people don’t stop and evaluate “THINK” before they speak! However, if you’re able to integrate this process into your interactions, you will find that your interactions are more genuine, connected and positive.
I hope you challenge yourself today and over the next few weeks to evaluate your interactions and find ways that you can authentically express yourself in words that honor you and others.
If you’re interested in learning more ways to change your communication with others, resolve trauma and pain from your past, or be more authentic in your self-expression please call or email to arrange a free telephone consultation. Let me know how I can help! 916-547-3997 firstname.lastname@example.org
Adriana Joyner, LMFT is a Sacramento Area therapist who specializes in providing counseling to people healing from trauma and abuse, and gender support for those within the LGBTQIA community. Her office is located in Gold River, CA located off Highway 50 at Sunrise Blvd. For more information or to schedule a consultation, please call (916) 547-3997 or email email@example.com.