If You Don’t Have Anything Nice To Say
There are a cascade of negative impacts on your health and well-being whether you are speaking negatively about someone else or having internal negative self-talk. Negative emotions will hinder your brain’s ability to learn, to take in new information, to perform a new skill, and cramps your ability to be creative or even curious. Self-criticism is known for reducing healing benefits as it increases your fight or flight response, putting you in a constant state of stress. When going through issues where your health is at risk, having critical thoughts that you are “not strong enough” or “I can’t do this” makes it more difficult to be in a frame of mind where creativity and your ability to move forward can assist you in the healing process.
In the fight or flight response we are also at risk for high blood pressure, heart rate spikes, and you begin breathing faster. This hormonal response in your system makes it more difficult to get into a state of healing, you may lose sleep, and you may ultimately be in a constant state of anxiety. This whole process can all begin with not speaking or even thinking kindly about yourself or others.
Luckily, talking and thinking kindly about yourself and others is a skill set that you can actively improve by becoming more mindful of the thoughts that cross your screen of consciousness. It is a practice and not a perfect.
Our inner critic is our biggest obstacle to experiencing peace, well-being, and making positive changes. Try the following practices each morning to set the stage for being with your thoughts, catching them and retraining your brain to see the good out there.
1) Name, tame, and reframe: if you are having a thought about how your house if never as clean as your neighbors; first name it, “there’s my thought about my housekeeping skills”. Second, tame it; bring your attention to your breathing and slow it down and imagine exhaling the critical thought out of your being. Third, reframe it; think of what is going right with your life. Your house may not be perfect, but you had time to enjoy your family.
2) Keep an appreciation journal. You may have done the gratitude journal before, a very helpful practice of grace. This time try to keep an appreciation journal. Practice writing down all the positive feedback/kind words you received in your day. Write down when your best friend tells you how good you are at something or how kind you were for helping a stranger. Detail the comment in your journal that tells you who said it, on what day, and what they said. This will remind you of all the amazing thoughts others have about you and assists you in remembering how amazing you really are.
3) Look for the good in others. When you find yourself being critical of others or thinking unkind thoughts, practice the art of finding loving compassion for others situations in life. When you see someone at the grocery store who is overweight with crappy food in their cart and you catch yourself thinking how weak they are, be mindful of the negative thought and practice changing your mind in that moment. In your mind’s eye send out love, kindness and understanding to your fellow human who is also struggling with their own critical mind.
That old adage of “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything it all” is great sage advice. Go one-step further, capture and retrain those moments to instill a little more compassion and empathy in this world. Be the change.