Learning a new Language

“The most important opinion you have is the one you have of yourself, and the most significant things you say all day are those things you say to yourself.”

Your mind is the most powerful asset you own. It can also be a very vulnerable place if you let it be.

For some reason, I’ve always identified as a big thinker. Maybe blame it on the only child syndrome, where you only have yourself and your thoughts to entertain the long hours. This overactive imagination and overthinking contributed to an overall fascination with the world in my later years and also the tendency to unravel.  Also known as spiraling, I have been prone to taking one little thing and making it into a larger, more terrifying thing at an astonishing rate. I saw this funny quote the other day. “I got 99 problems and 89 of them are completely made up scenarios in my head that I’m stressing about for absolutely no logical reason.” (Source: ecards.com)

And I don’t think that I am alone in this kind of thinking, it’s easy to do when your mind is free to roam wild.  I’ve been speaking to myself in a new language though, and I’m learning it slowly and it truly does take as much practice as if you are learning French or Italian.

here are some examples of the changes I’m making

Instead of I will, say I am.
Why this helps: I do ‘I will’ lists all of the time. I encourage students to make bucket lists, goals list, language goals, so on. They are useful. But one morning I divided my paper by Where I am and Where I’d Like to be. For both lists I used ‘I am…” and I found that to be very powerful! You’re already envisioning your goal and that’s a surefire way to achieve it.  It seems that much more real. When I read in the morning my goals in the I am form I feel much more motivated. “I am working at a non-profit organization, I am 110 pounds, I am… whatever the goals may be.

Instead of should have, say Next Time I know.
Why this helps: ‘Should have’ means kicking yourself, ‘should have’ means regret over something in the past (literally and linguistically) ‘should have’ means it’s too late now anyway so why even bring it up. Next time I know is smart, Next time I know is recognition of a mistake and a solution for the future.  Next time I know is a future reminder to do better, ‘should have’ is counterproductive.

Instead of not enough, say enough
Why this helps: Don’t fall into the not enough trap. Not enough time, not enough work done, not enough pretty. Each time you let this thought fall into your mind you are convincing yourself there’s not enough x/y/z. The only thing waiting for you on the other side of that is inadequacy and frustration. Here’s a good time to practice gratitude. What are you given? You are given the same amount of time that was given to the greatest and the best.  That’s not enough? Not enough is an excuse to complain.

The most important part about learning a new language is to not be afraid to make mistakes, because they will happen. How are you supposed to be fluent unless you make mistakes while practicing? Mistakes are a part of life, and the biggest lesson is to say sorry to yourself and move on. I love, love this quote from Maya Angelou which ties it all together. Speak nicer to both others and yourself today.

“I don’t know if I continue, even today, always liking myself. But what I learned to do many years ago was to forgive myself. It is very important for every human being to forgive herself or himself because if you live, you will make mistakes- it is inevitable. But once you do and you see the mistake, then you forgive yourself and say, ‘Well, if I’d known better I’d have done better,’ that’s all. So you say to people who you think you may have injured, ‘I’m sorry,’ and then you say to yourself, ‘I’m sorry.’ If we all hold on to the mistake, we can’t see our own glory in the mirror because we have the mistake between our faces and the mirror; we can’t see what we’re capable of being. You can ask forgiveness of others, but in the end the real forgiveness is in one’s own self. I think that young men and women are so caught by the way they see themselves. Now mind you. When a larger society sees them as unattractive, as threats, as too black or too white or too poor or too fat or too thin or too sexual or too asexual, that’s rough. But you can overcome that. The real difficulty is to overcome how you think about yourself. If we don’t have that we never grow, we never learn, and sure as hell we should never teach.”
― Maya Angelou

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The Importance of Values

Now, before I begin I want to ask you what your top 3 values are and keep them. Write them down on a post-it note, or grab a sharpie and write it on your forearm. These are defining words for you and your life starting from today.

I’ve learned that very simply, we become the values we choose.

Have you heard of the Got Milk commercials? Someone’s very successful future self comes from the future and encourages their 8 year old self to drink milk because if they do they will be a gold medalist figure skater running a side business with a really hot boyfriend, but if they don’t they’ll end up looking very homeless and very tired. First of all, great marketing Got Milk I’ve always been a fan, and second of all, we HAVE this power.

Reasons being milk is plentiful and within our grasp at our local Albertsons, but also because we have the power to determine who we will be in the future based on the VALUES that we build now. We can pick and choose what kind of person we will be in the future, by creating and abiding by a certain set of values. Values = Milk. And being in our twenties, this is the OPTIMAL time to choose what values are most important to us because it will effect our everyday decisions. And you are very well aware, as am I, that the twenties are a tumultuous period of life filled with scary, uncertain decisions. Now, with our values locked down all we have to do is check if the decisions we make are in line with our values.

“It’s not hard to make decisions when you know what your values are.”
― Roy Disney

Another reason having values locked down is a good thing is that life happens. Think about balancing a family and a career. You know how sometimes people accidentally bring work back home with them, I mean physically they bring their work computer home but also sometimes people bring the stress and worry and frustration of work right back to their own dinner table without thinking about it. I vowed that one of my big value items (like Mcdonalds) will be family first. Life happens. It happens and we get caught up, but at that moment you will hopefully remember a promise you made to yourself…a promise of a very important value.

Values shape your life. Your life now and your life in the future. It’s an important thing to invest in now.

Be creative: Make your own crest, draw symbols representing your 7 big value items (yes, like McDonalds). Kate Middleton and Prince William have one and they’re doing pretty well for themselves!

“Your beliefs become your thoughts,
Your thoughts become your words,
Your words become your actions,
Your actions become your habits,
Your habits become your values,
Your values become your destiny.”
― Mahatma Gandhi

My Hope for You

My hope for you is that you will come to a point in your life when you will:

1) Resolve to forgive yourself for the things you did wrong.

2) Not blame the world or yourself. Understand life has its ups and downs. People have their mistakes.

3) Find the beauty in the ordinary, everyday things.

4) See the good parts in the mirror and overlook the “bad” parts

5) When faced with fear, DO NOT GIVE WAY TO FEAR.

I am a Self-Conscious Person.

Today’s topic is self-consciousness.

First, some background on me and how that word applies to my life: As a chronic over thinker, this is embedded in my personality. I’m self-conscious about my self-consciousness. Have you read the Malcolm Gladwell 10,000 hour rule? I have 10,000 hours of practicing self-consciousness. I am an expert at internally overanalyzing every move, step, and decision I make. And it drains my soul.

I was having lunch with a woman one day. She is in a very high position at a huge corporation, and I would love to someday do what she does one day. It was a casual, getting to know each other/informational interview. Somehow this question came up: “So what’s on your bucket list?” I shared with her an item on my bucket list is to write a book.

She asked what I would write about. After some self-conscious thought and banter (in my head, of course) I said, “Living more freely. Because for many years I was plagued by self-conscious and negative thoughts. I’ve realized it now and I’m changing them or making them go away and I want others to do the same.’ She said, “Really, I had no idea you were self conscious, I can’t tell by looking at you.”

I stared back in shock. Really? You can’t tell that at 100 miles per second my mind has been racing back and forth between whether or not my make-up is smeared or if it’s weird the way I ate that impossible-to-eat edamame? Did she notice? Nope. She didn’t notice the way I was eating or the fact that I’m self-conscious. That led to some deep thinking….

How many times do people not notice? Even though I freak out, I get sad and embarrassed, and I get (synonyms for self-conscious: anxious, uncertain, uneasy, awkward), the person doesn’t even notice or my thoughts don’t stop the person from thinking them anyways. So, hey, I don’t want to be that anymore. Those are some shitty words. I’ve created four W.O.W moments– Words Of Wisdom to share about the ‘self-conscious syndrome’.

1. Identify the negative thought, and imagine the worst-case scenario. Ask yourself if it will matter in a week or a year or in 100 years.

Well yes, let’s imagine that you’re simply going across the room to get more coffee. All of a sudden, those thoughts are flying and your pants suddenly fall off while walking. In 2114, I highly doubt people all across the nation will be sitting around the coffee table talking about that one time your pants fell off. Put it into perspective with time… and value your own time by letting the incident go. It was so much smaller than you played it in your head.

2. Assess the lighting in the room
Self-conscious people suffer from the Spotlight Effect. All eyes on you. All judgment is in your direction. That just isn’t true, and to be honest it’s a little narcissistic. Relax. Because people are actually more concerned with their own self-conscious behaviors, or the number of likes on their most recent Instagram photo, than analyzing your every move.

3. Trust yourself
Self-conscious people second-guess. There is a definite lack of trust that the outcome is going to be good. So worry fills those spaces and then you start believing the worry itself. If you don’t believe in yourself, you allow others to do the same. First, believe in you and your decisions and that you are coming from a place of integrity and good will so that no matter the outcome you can stand up for yourself.

“I think as an actor, as a director, as a writer, as an artist, there is no formula. It’s about saying, “OK, I’m willing to take a risk and I don’t care if I lose everything, because what is all this worth if I don’t have my integrity and free spirit?” – Nicole Kidman, Esquire

4. Be patient
Good news! The antonyms for self-conscious are: calm, comfortable, confident, content. However, the change from self-consciousness to the place of confidence and freedom from what others think is possible, but also difficult and long and tedious. You have to really remind yourself every time these thoughts arise. Be patient and allow it to take time to bring you to a place where you could care less…if your pants accidentally fall off.