I was reminded the other day of my past and a phrase I used to hear quite frequently, “It is not what you say, but how you say it !”. Well that little phrase had me flummoxed. I had no clue what it meant or how I was supposed to say what I had to say differently. For the longest time this inability to communicate effectively and speak my truth at the same time had me totally stuck.
Hearing that deadly phrase again evoked a whole set of new responses as I listened to the story behind it…and added some new context. Books like ‘The Dark Side of the Light Catchers’ present a principle that =we get irritated by the things in others that we deny in ourselves. So to claim all sides of ourselves and become whole and so (in my words) have the ability to choose how we react rather than just unconsciously act, we need to give ourselves permission to be those parts of ourselves we normally reject. The bitch side is a good example of one that most of us try and suppress.
So there I am, saying what I want to say but coming from my suppressed and hated bitch side. Now what is it you are hearing ? The words or the intention ? When I switch places and am now facing the bitch in full swing I am no longer hearing what she is saying, but the anger and spite that she barely recognises in herself. My reaction is not to the words but the intent behind those words and the intent behind those words is very, very rarely directed at me. The intent behind your words is how you feel about you!
We are all quick to jump onto books like Debby Ford’s and give ourselves permission to express ourselves in whatever fashion we choose so as not to deny our shadow selves – after all, the reaction is just your shadow and has nothing to do with me. But we then seem to abdicate responsibility and find ourselves being the victim of our own choice. That is of course when we have the awareness to choose a behaviour which most of us do not.
My thought is this, that if you are going to give yourself permission to exist (and that is something we all have to do), then also give yourself permission to choose your behaviour based on the consequences you want to experience. Do not avoid a conflict because it scares you – rather avoid a conflict because you can get the same result in a different, more gentle way. When you choose your reaction you are truly empowered. At that point you are no longer a victim of your own habits and other people’s reactions. The trick is to become aware of your intentions when you choose your words, hard but not impossible. Which is why I love coaching…because it gave and still gives me the space to become aware and so choose who I want to be !
When you are truly empowered you choose your habits, you choose your experiences and you choose your life. How grand would that be ?