All words we sprinkle effortlessly into our conversations like seasoning. Aiming to spice up the perspective of our stories. To give those listening to us a taste of the deeper feelings associated with what we're talking about.
I could say I had nothing to say during my 2-month writing hiatus, but the truth is, I had plenty. However, the words above had me in a mental trap.
I always get the short end of the stick.
I will never make it out of this.
That was supposed to be forever.
Nothing I do is enough or even matters.
Everything about me sucks.
Everyone is disappointed in me.
No one believes in me.
A conversation last month triggered me to a point where I had to gather myself. Hearing absolutes used with such deep conviction made me question how I've used them in my own life: Was everyone like this? Has no one ever been there for me? Have I never received support? Then I started to reflect. We're so quick to season our words with absolutes, but now I feel they don't belong in every conversation. Words carry weight and I've started to consider what I'm actually saying. Life is filled with gray matter. There are so many variations of expectations and what is viewed as "good enough". Though, here are a few examples of where absolutes make sense.
No one is perfect.
Everyone falls short and struggles.
Everything is relative to our lived experiences.
Nothing changes until you put effort to start the process.
Never assume you know everything about someone without learning more.
There is always room for you to take a step back.
Stop being hypercritical of people and saying "they'll never be (x)", or "they always do (y)". Think about yourself in their shoes. Consider your own life. Have you ever had a moment where you were doing what was the best you could at the time and it wasn't viewed as such? Have you ever had someone say something so matter-of-factly about you that wasn't an accurate depiction of your character? How did those moments feel?
I think of times when I scrounged together my final dollars to try to attend an event for a friend. Or times when I was breaking inside while still trying to support someone else. Things people would never know from the outside. Yet, later finding out those moments weren't enough in someone else's eyes. I can own I'm inconsistent with communication. Details slip my mind despite my best planning efforts. I have a hard time admitting when I'm struggling, so I shut down. These are all things I'm continuing to work on, BUT... I'll also answer the phone at 2 am. I will sit with you in an ER for hours. I will let you lay in my lap and cry. I will root for you and support your dreams. I will sit in silence and listen to you. I will create a space of non-judgment for you. Do those not count too?
I'll admit, the past four months of emotional healing have been tumultuous. And many days I let absolutes drive resentment, anger, pain, and frustration in my heart and mind. I wanted so badly to justify the behaviors and disappointment I experienced. "They never actually cared" and so many other heavy statements. When in reality, they did at a time. Maybe not in the way that was what I needed, but it was there at some point. I had a close friend over for dinner last week and as we talked through personal experiences she said " There were good times though, I can't say it was always bad."
She inspired me to take a deep look at myself.
I really believe we tend to inflict so much additional pain onto ourselves by placing extra emphasis with the words we choose. And I don't want to anymore. I don't have the energy or space to carry it. I also don't want to project that energy onto other people. Especially because it feels horrible to be on the receiving end of those projections. I'm starting to pay attention to it more because my words also directly impact whoever is listening. I want people to feel safe with me...not wondering if they're also under constant scrutiny. We all live with different circumstances and situations impacting how we can show up each day. If there is no room for grace in connections, what is the point? I understand setting standards, but sometimes it requires also examining ourselves. Are we meeting those standards every single time, for every person in our life too? Or are we operating from our own personal lens of assumptions and not actually checking in with them too? What might they need from us that we don't even realize we're failing to provide?
Mainly, I'm done with absolutes on myself. It fuels such limiting beliefs about the life I am capable of living. To speak with such absolute fervor feels misplaced for me. I want to have the freedom to change and evolve. I want the power to forgive...which is where this lesson hits home the most. Using absolutes to address situations that hurt me dug the wound deeper. It made healing seem so much further away. I felt more defensive. And so I'm working to release it. I could say things were always bad, but they weren't. I could say I'll never let something happen again, but I don't know that. I could say everything was a waste, but it wasn't. I could say no one has been there, but I know without a doubt many people have in large and small ways.
Take a moment to consider how these words factor into the narrative of your life. The words we use build the world we live in.
So what world are you creating for yourself?