If You Have Nothing Nice to Say…

By Joan Herrmann

If you have nothing nice to say don’t say anything at all. Ah… a mother’s wisdom. I’m sure most of us have been told this many, many times. But, how many of us actually follow this sage advice?

Words are a powerful force and the powerful effects of negative words cannot be underestimated. Words are remembered long after they are spoken. They have the power to destroy one’s self-esteem and self-confidence, making someone feel less than adequate and fearful. Words leave invisible bruises that can last a lifetime.

Most of us understand that negative words hurt, and yet, how many of us actually stop and think BEFORE making a negative or disparaging comment? Do we ever think about the impact our message has on the recipient or is it so important for our opinion to be heard that the consequences are insignificant to us?

And it is not only personal comments from others that can be damaging.  Being in the company of people who frequently complain or see the bad in everything can be just as emotionally detrimental.  Such people project a negative energy that soon infiltrates everything and everyone around them.

Case in point. My 18-year-old son recently completed a certification course at our local fire academy and is currently working toward becoming a fireman. This is his dream and he is taking the appropriate steps to that end. He is attending college to earn a degree. He has been a volunteer for two years. He strives to learn everything about his chosen profession. After he completed the certification test, I posted on my personal Facebook page about his status. Someone immediately commented that her son took the test a few years back and is number 5,000 waiting for a job. She went on to say that it is impossible to get a job and anyone who goes into the profession is crazy.

I’m not sure why she made that post. Perhaps she was trying to relay information. Maybe she is upset about the fact that her son has not been hired. Maybe she was having a bad day. I don’t know her motive, but I do know that a comment like that has the power to cast doubt in a young man’s mind, cause him to question his direction, and possibly even shatter his dream.  Once a thought like that gets planted in someone’s thoughts, it’s more difficult to stay on course. How often does this happen to you? How often are you the one making this type of comment or how often are you the recipient?

A new year is approaching and this is a time when many self reflect and try to enact positive change. I encourage you to become more cognizant of what you say. Stop and think BEFORE the words come out. You have the power to impact another positively or negatively. You have the power to be a mentor or cheerleader of a dream, or the destroyer. Remember that mother always knows best and if you have nothing nice to say, pray one of my favorite prayers: “Lord, put your arm on my shoulder and your hand over my mouth.”

I wish you all a blessed holiday season.

Start Where You’re At

By Lisa Selow

CC Image courtesy of kpishdadi on Flickr
CC Image courtesy of kpishdadi on Flickr

Many of you have big goals, dreams, and visions. You have desires. It all can get so overwhelming at times. I know because I’ve been there. I’ve stood there stopped in my tracks, thinking, “How will I get from here to there?”

Your desires might seem far away. Maybe you put them on the back burner for a while? Maybe you just can’t think about them ‘cause you’re not taking action and it hurts too much not to make them happen? Maybe you’re not sure where to even start? Yes, I know what those feelings are like too. I myself have been prone to procrastination and perfectionism, which ends up meaning that I wouldn’t start or finish anything.

I recommend starting where you’re at. Take one action step today in the direction of your desires. Tomorrow, same thing. Take another, small action step. Just keep going. (I like Dory’s quote in the animated film, “Finding Nemo”: “Just keep swimming. Just keep swimming.”) Eventually, you’ll get “there.”

I’m really not into the idea of “getting there,” though. I see the process as the place where there is joy. The destination, to be honest, is not as fun or sexy as the journey. So, why not enjoy the journey?

It’s totally okay to just start where you’re at, even if you are sort of imperfect. What if your so-called imperfection was PERFECT?

What if your human side is that part of you that is beautiful and talented? What if you are denying others joy in experiencing that part of you?

What if you didn’t wait to be an expert or have the perfect abs? I mean, everyone is a beginner in some way, I promise you. Be okay with looking like an ass or silly. Why not? What others think of you is none of your business, as a wise spiritual teacher once said.

This past year, I had to tap into my inner life coach due to some self-doubts. I let my ego get in the way of continuing towards my dreams. In an online group I’m in, I was discussing my dream of studying to become a yoga teacher in the future. Someone there projected their reality onto me about what it means to be a yoga teacher. She said you have to be “religious” about it all and dedicating most of your time to it, to be a great teacher. The person shared a video of some teachers doing the very “advanced” asanas (postures) in yoga. Also, she said that I’d probably get bored teaching yoga due to it not being creative enough for me.

All of these limiting beliefs were not mine, I realized. I did have to dig deep ‘cause it really hurt. I’m a sensitive type of person. I ended up seeing this hurtful exchange as a gift. It showed me what I really believe about being a yoga teacher:

  • I can start where I’m at. I’ve done yoga for years, but I don’t have to be perfect.
  • All that is required to teach is an open-heart and an intention to serve, along with the knowledge of teaching others how to do the asanas safely
  • It’s okay to be a work in progress.
  • I define teacher and student as the same thing. I really feel as though we are both.
  • I don’t have to be an expert. I can acquire the knowledge, wisdom, and guidance from books, classes, and teachers and share it with love in my heart.
  • I’ve probably been a yoga teacher in many past lives and that DOES count!
  • Yoga is more to me. It’s the connection within and to the divine and others. It’s the harmonics of music and peaceful feelings from meditation. It’s the feeling of flow and allowing and accepting. It’s union.
  • Yoga is not a religion. It’s a spiritual practice.
  • I don’t have to be able to do the “advanced asanas” so that I can teach yoga. Again, it’s okay to be a work in progress.
  • I am into beginner’s mind. I love approaching yoga and other things in life like I’m a little kid learning it for the first time.

So, I felt better.

What about you? Do you ever struggle with getting from here to there? How do you feel about starting where you’re at right now? How do you handle the naysayers when it comes to your goals, dreams, and vision? Please share in the comments below.