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How to Extend Grace to Yourself

Be softer with you/You are a breathing thing.

–Nayyirah Waheed

If charity begins at home, then grace begins in the psyche–in the way we regard ourselves and the way we talk to ourselves. Our self talk is rarely benign; it holds the power to add or subtract, affirm or negate, uplift or belittle. The power of our self talk

derives from the fact that our words and thoughts are energetic constructs: they are projections of energy that yield fruit, and it is up to us to determine what kind of fruit we want to cultivate and harvest. If our thoughts and words develop from a high or positive vibration, the fruit will be sweet. If our thoughts and words develop from a low or negative vibration, the fruit will be bitter.

Scientists have studied this dynamic. In her book Change Almost Anything in 21 Days, Dr. Ruth Fishel reveals, “Brainwave tests prove that when we use positive words, our ‘feel good’ hormones flow. Positive self talk releases endorphins and serotonin in our brains which then flow throughout the body, making us feel good. These neurotransmitters stop flowing when we use negative words.” Another scientist, Dr. Masaru Emoto, examined the effect of human consciousness on water. He demonstrated

that the projection of negative feelings/energy onto water creates deformed crystals when the water is frozen. However, the projection of positive feelings/energy onto water creates beautiful and symmetrical crystals when the water is frozen. Emoto claims that since humans are made up of over 70% water, these negative and positive energies have an effect on us as well.

The underlying message: We should be nicer to ourselves. We should tame our internal tongues, squash our inner battles, and soothe ourselves instead. In her book Daring Greatly, author Brene Brown encourages us: “Talk to yourself like you would to someone you love.” Good advice–but it is easier said than done. Once you have created a momentum of negative self talk, how can you change course?


graceHow to Stop the Momentum of Negative Self-Talk

First, do no harm.
In other words, as your mother taught you when you were very
young: If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all. When you notice that you are engaging in negative self talk, a conscious intervention into what is often a compulsive habit can help.


Second, create a symbol or choose a word to focus on that will shut down your negativity and give you a chance to regroup. Try envisioning an actual stop sign to halt the negative self talk.


Third, take a nap. Studies have shown that momentum slows significantly when you are asleep. If you notice that you’re headed own a negative thought path, take a nap to reset your momentum.


How to Switch to Positive Self-Talk

First, speak love and kindness to yourself from your whole heart, you can forge a new energetic path and begin a new momentum.


Second, say only what is true; say only what you can say with 100% veracity–even if it isn’t very poetic.
Certain statements like “I am great” or I love myself” will not work if you don’t really believe them. Instead tell yourself something you can believe like “It will be okay” or “I am doing the best I can do right now.” Remind yourself, “I know I am smart” or “I can be nicer to myself.”


Third, get silent and reach inward and upward. Go deep into your meditation or your prayer and ask your Maker, your spirit guide, or your inner being for an affirmation that lifts you up–one you can embrace and turn to when you get into a bad spot.


Fourth, focus on a positive affirmation to keep you from falling into the trap of negative self talk. Doing this will point you in the direction of self love and positivity. Then, when those inner voices start trying to drag you down, just close your eyes, take a deep breath, and repeat your affirmation.


Fifth, write it down–over and over. Set aside the time each day to write down or repeat your affirmation, and you will keep a positive momentum going.


Whatever you do to build yourself up is worth the time. As the Buddha himself is purported to have said, “You, yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection.” And so you do. And so it is.

Jill A. Lahnstein is a mother, a teacher, a writer, and a jewelry artist. She lives in Wilmington, North Carolina, with her teenage daughter Angel and their little canine sidekick Sunny. She has spent over 20 years teaching English to college students. Most of her experience has been with those students who are first-generation, economically disadvantaged, or disabled. She fervently believes that every moment–inside the classroom and outside the classroom–can be a healing moment.


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