I was having a conversation the other day with a friend and she kept using the word “cheap” in reference to herself. After she used this word several times in the course of a 5-minute conversation, I couldn’t help but wonder if she was “cheap” or if she just couldn’t articulate that she was frugal and fiscally responsible – there is a difference. So I asked her, “if you were a millionaire, would you continue to limit your spending as you do?” Her response was what I expected, “no.”
I wanted her to realize that the way she spends money is not being “cheap,” it’s being responsible and living within her means; nothing wrong with that, in fact I admire that. But the words she used to convey that were not doing her justice and in fact, lowered her own value.
Jump ahead to this past weekend…. I was suffering terribly from allergies. I couldn’t breathe, I was frustrated, the lack of oxygen and the overwhelming anxiety of it all made me clumsy and run into things. I was upset for sure. The words I kept saying were, “I’m miserable, I hate this, this sucks,” etc…. My husband finally got tired of all my complaining and reminded me of my words and said rather than saying you’re miserable, why don’t you say something like, “I love Spring and all the flowers, they just don’t love me the same way. I am grateful for all the flowers and the sunshine, I feel wonderful.” I laughed at this because it was so opposite of what I was truly feeling but then I sneezed again and just as I was about to go into complaint mode, I changed and said, “I love Spring and all the flowers and the sunshine but they just don’t love me back.” I laughed and he laughed and I felt better for that moment.
Words have so much value, they convey a message to others but I think we often fail to realize they also convey messages to ourselves. If my friend continues to use the word “cheap,” “I’m cheap, I’m cheap,” well then I think she is ultimately giving herself and others permission to view her that way, as cheap, worthless. Imagine if she changes her words and instead says, I choose to be fiscally responsible. I value experiences and other things over material items. I choose to spend my money in ways that bring more value to my life, not to impress others. WOW! What an admirable person she is. She has so much value and wisdom.
Likewise, if I am not careful with my own words as was the case this past weekend, I will continue to be miserable and unhappy, a victim rather. By choosing to take the high road with my words, versus Spring, I get to be happy despite the histamine war going on in my body.
How wonderful is it that we get to choose our emotions and how others perceive us, simply by the words we choose to utilize. Remember the value of the words you use when speaking to yourself and to others. They are powerful. Your words can convey self-worth and ability or it can tell a tale of worthlessness and incapability. What would you choose?
CHALLENGE: Consider the words you say to yourself in a given moment or conversation. Take a pause and think before you speak. Grow your vocabulary so you can articulate your value and ability the way you want to, not the way you’re self-limited to.