“You’re killin’ me!” I heard my four year old say this to my two year old and I cringed. I have become uber-conscious of the words I use and I know this is a phrase I used often. Recently I found the books of Florence Scovel Shinn. Her primary work is The Game of Life and How to Play It. I’m reading this now, and will review it with you once I’m done. It’s typical for me to power through a series of books by a single author, once I form an interest in his/her writings. To date I’ve read Shinn’s both The Power of the Spoken Word and The Magic Path of Intuition – which I loved. They are very repetitive and seem to be comprised of Shinn’s personal notes and journal entries whereas The Game of Life is a standalone book she made with intention. Even so her message resonates so clearly with me, that I see the repetition as a boon.
All of her work has left me feeling a bit like, I need to shut my big mouth! I’m a talker, and a careless talker at that. This means that I talk idly to fill the silence. Which is a common practice, and goes hand in hand with complaining. I’m not sure why this is an acceptable social norm, but really, people usually spend idle talk griping about the weather, bills, work, health and family problems. It’s really uncommon to hear people filling the silence with praise and expressions of gratitude.
I suspect this is for two main reasons. One is that most people feel it’s rude to share their blessings for fear they will be seen as bragging and not humble. The other is that misery loves company and when some body starts the ball rolling on a venting session, it’s hard not to get caught up in its momentum.
This is where Shinn says we need to stop having “good old-fashioned chats” and instead purposely have new-fashioned chats where we speak about our goals, desires, and perfect intentions. The focus should be on what you want and not what you don’t want. Furthermore, you should never commiserate with others because it strengthens the hold of whatever lousy situation they are dealing with.
Somebody once pointed out to me that it’s no coincidence that we “spell” words, becuase words are magic and when we write them out, and especially when we speak them, we are actively creating the focus of those words. One could say this is new age mumbo jumbo, but I’m finding evidence that it’s not a new idea at all.
The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz states to be impeccable with our words. I used to think this meant not to gossip or speak poorly of myself (and it does), but this ancient Toltec wisdom goes deeper than that. Even the Bible speaks in multiple places about the power of our words. A great example is Isaiah 55:11 “So shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty…”. This why hearing my daughter say “you’re killing me” is so disconcerting. As are these other common phrases we should all quit using: I’m sick and tired of…, I’m broke, I’m exhausted, I hate…, life is tough, etc.
Lastly, I want say that just as we should guard agains using negative or lousy language, we should leverage the power of words for our benefit. I learned about the power of “I am” last year and used that to write an uplifting affirmation that I’ll share below. There are many great YouTube video’s on this topic and you can find some of my favorites here and here. These helped me understand the authority we give to the words following “I am…”
My I Am Affirmation
I am important, I am worthy, I am loving, I am free, I am empowered, I am strong, I am healthy, I am powerful, I am fresh, I am abundant, I am forgiving, I am expanding, I am giving, I am creative, I am brave, I am clever and I am in wonder of the world around me.