He was two years old the first and last time he ran out into the road. We lived in the country so the probability for danger was low but that did not stop me from yelling, screaming, racing after him and yanking him up as swiftly as possible. All followed by some significant discipline. I never wanted him to do that again and he didn’t. I doubt seriously that I conveyed the entire message to him. I loudly communicated my anger and fear, but did I communicate my hope and desire and love equally as well? Typically, we talk to ourselves exactly the same way — loudly communicating anger and fear, seldom communicating the hope and love.

The complete conversation that a frantic parent wants to communicate involves anger, fear, a request of some kind and love. It might sound something like this:

I’m angry with you for running out in the street without looking both ways to see if any cars are coming. I’m scared that you will be badly hurt. I want you to pay more attention when you are playing near the road. Stop and look both ways. Only go into the street after your toy if no cars are coming from either direction. I love you so much. I want you to be safe and healthy. You are so precious to us. You deserve to have lots of fun and stay safe. 

That’s a very different message. In your own childhood, you can probably identify many times when you received only part of the message, not the full message. You may even see how you’re currently getting this stunted communication from your boss, co-workers, spouse, friends when what they really mean to communicate is the complete message.

I loudly communicated my anger and fear, but did I communicate my hope and desire and love equally as well? Sadly, it also becomes the way we communicate with ourselves. A fabulous life hack for silencing your inner critic is not to silence her at all but to complete the message. Think of one thing that upset you the most about yourself — eating habits, exercise routine, work ethic, time wasted, lack of family time. Maybe you’ve told yourself that you don’t get up early enough. You watch too much TV. You spend too much time on social media. You’re lazy. You need more sleep. Practice communicating the complete message. For example:

(Anger) You’re so lazy. You need to get up earlier. You have no self-discipline. What’s your problem? (Fear) If you don’t take advantage of the early morning hours, I’m afraid you’ll never make the kind of progress you want to make. I’m afraid if you don’t start a new schedule, your project will never be completed, and your dreams will never be realized. (Request) I want you to set your alarm for 6:30. I want you to place it on the other side of the room so that you’ll have to get out of bed to turn it off. I want you to stumble to the bathroom and get directly into the shower after you turn your alarm off. I want you to start working on your project before you check email or social media or do any other part of your “to do” list, in order to optimize the morning hours. (Love) I love you. I want you to have a wonderful life. You deserve to have your dreams come true. I want you to live life fully.  

When you begin to speak to yourself in a way that communicates the full message it changes the message entirely. We immediately go from belittling and berating to mentoring and motivating simply by completing the message.



Photo by Jordan Sanchez on Unsplash


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