Wednesday, December 16, 2009

That’s What She Said

Friends don't let friends speak crappily.

I was at an art group meeting on Monday.  That in itself was a rare thing, as I have been avoiding the meetings in general over the past three years.  However, one member recently lost her husband and has become housebound due to her own illness, and since we were meeting at her home, I chose to attend.

We did our usual sharing of our work and updates on what we were doing professionally (many of us have had sales of our work, and I had just turned in a project for another book).  It was all fairly light and fluffy, usual fare, but then our friend shared her journal with us, and how much harder the past month had become for her.  Before we knew it, we were all passing the Kleenex.  It was like that cemetery scene in “Steel Magnolias” , except no one was there to tell us to “Hit Ouiser”. 

When we all were able to catch our breath, my friend said “You need to enjoy what you have today, because you just don’t know what will happen tomorrow.”  (She said this in part because not only has she had issues in her own life, but another member had a major house fire, and my husband has been unemployed for three years, and another member had a heart attack earlier this year).

And whether she intended it or not, I heard the unspoken “Because tomorrow you could be hit by catastrophe.”

Which is why I had been avoiding the meetings in general for the past three years.  It was easier for me to avoid the meetings all together than to stand up and say “Well, tomorrow could bring something great as well, couldn’t it?”  (Which, no, I did not say in that room on Monday, but I did say it in my head; and now I am saying it here).  Or to say “I believe we can sell our work and make a living at it” or “No, actually these hats are for galleries, not to keep my family warm, but thank you for thinking of them.”

I let my friends speak crappily.  It bothered me, and I vaguely knew why, but today this came through my inbox, and helped me put a finger to it.  I will have more to say in a future post, but for now let me close with this post from Christine Kane, who really sums it up:

Watch Your Language: 7 Tips for Big Results
by Christine Kane

A few years ago, I was in a car with the promoter of one of my performances. He had picked me up at the airport and was driving me to my hotel. On the way, we talked guitars. We got onto the subject of Olson Guitars, arguably the best guitar in the whole world. At one point, the promoter said, "Yea, well, in my entire life I'll never own an Olson guitar."
There was a time when I'd let a remark like this slide on by, even adding my own "me either" to the mix.
Now, I can't. Yoda steps into my head and says, (in his Yoda voice) "So certain are you. Always with you it cannot be done."
So, I turned to the promoter and said, "You are NOT allowed to say that!"
This is because I know the power of language. When you know that words become things, it's hard to let language slide.
I can't help it. I have a rule:
Friends don't let friends speak crappily.
Language is powerful. Words can create reality. Even if my promoter friend doesn't know how on earth he'd ever get his guitar, it doesn't mean he should cut off the possibility with his own words.
If you're wondering how to begin watching your words, here are 7 practical language principles for becoming a better creator of your life.
1 - Eliminate "never" and "always."
Never and always are words of hysteria. "I always mess everything up!" "I'll never figure this out!" "I'll never get an Olson Guitar."
First off, it's not true. If you always messed everything up, you wouldn't have made it out of the womb.
And second off, extreme words are designed to hook you. It's just your emotions taking a joyride. You're more powerful than that.
2 - Use AND instead of BUT.
"But" dismisses the statement before it. "And" includes it. For instance, "That's a good article, but it needs some editing" isn't nearly as encouraging as "That's a good article, AND it needs some editing."
"I love you, but…" is another great example of the dismissive power of "but."
3 - Avoid "Should."
Should is a heinous word for many reasons. It is victim-speak. It disempowers its object. It negates desires, thereby making it harder to make choices. It adds a nebulous energy to the decision making process. Use empowered language instead: "I could…" "I would…" "I am choosing to," "I would like to," "I don't want to," or "You might consider…"

4 - Stop calling yourself depressed.

Also stop allowing anyone to tell you that you are depressed. When you call yourself "depressed" or "obsessive compulsive" or "ADHD" or whatever - you're claiming this thing. You're calling it forth with the most powerful two words in our language: "I am." That creates very little option for the transformation of this condition.
5 - Delete the word "hate" from your vocabulary.
"Hate" has lots of energy. When you use it, you send lots of energy out into the very thing you "hate." Even if it's negative energy, it's still a powerful force, adding its charge to that thing. You're also depleting this energy from your own spirit as you say it.
6 - Be "great." Or "wonderful."
A disease of the creative temperament is a belief that we must be authentic at all costs. So we can't answer a simple "How are you?" without delving into an in-depth scan of our emotional temperature.
Try this instead: When people ask you how you're doing, just say, "I'm great!"
I used to think if I said this, then I better have a good reason for saying it, like I just won the lottery or something. I thought it would make me look suspicious, and people would start to wonder if something was wrong with me. But then I did it. And you know what? Most people don't care why you're great. You're saying it for you.
7 - Pay attention to the music of your speech.
You know how some people? They talk in question marks? And you have no idea why? But it makes you think you shouldn't really rely on them? And it makes you not want to hire them?
The music of your language says a lot about you. If you let your sentences droop like Eeyore, ("Thanks for noticing me.") or if you do the uncertain question mark language, take note of what attitudes are causing this. These patterns are created for a reason. Even if it feels like faking it at first, generate confidence as you speak.


Please do! Just be sure to include this complete blurb with it:

Performer, songwriter, and creativity consultant Christine Kane publishes her 'LiveCreative' weekly ezine with more than 8,000 subscribers. If you want to be the artist of your life and create authentic and lasting success, you can sign up for a FRE*E subscription to LiveCreative at

See Christine's blog - Be Creative. Be Conscious. Be Courageous - at


Sonja said...

Oh, wow. Great post. I did this the other day. I let a friend talk crabby. Not about herself, but about someone else. It wasn't just the two of us, and we were kind of in close quarters so I didn't say anything, but it totally blew my mood and I felt bad about not saying anything.

I love that article. Language is so powerful. One other thing she doesn't mention is to never say 'I don't have time to ...'. I try always to say, 'I don't make time to ...' instead. That way it doesn't exclude me from doing it if I change my mind/emphasis later ;)

Marti Dolata said...

Wow - I guess I don't need to tell you that this really made me think.
I guess---
no, I was about to do exactly what your article said not to do. I'm pasting this on the refrigerator.
Anyway, I ran across this when I was looking for your email.

Andrea Stern said...

@Sonja my mom always said "engage mind before opening mouth" it took me this long to "get it" and sometimes I still don't LOL

@Marti hope the article helps. what did you need to email me about?