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Say the Words

Here is what I want you to know:

 

YOU SHOULD ALWAYS SAY THE WORDS. OUT LOUD. TO ALL OF THE PEOPLE. ALL OF THE TIME.

We need to hear those words more often than we admit. And it's just as rewarding to be the one who speaks the words that someone else needed to hear. So, I implore you- say the words. To your friends and your children, to your spouse and your coworkers, to your parents and your mentors, to your siblings and to the barista at the coffee shop.

 

YOUR WORDS CAN CHANGE THE TRAJECTORY OF SOMEONE'S DAY, OR EVEN THEIR LIFE. (OR THEY WON'T, IF THEY REMAIN UNSPOKEN, AS THEY SO OFTEN DO.)

Let me offer you two personal examples of the power of words at work in the world:

 

A year ago tonight I was out with two girlfriends, when I ran into a third who I hadn't seen in awhile. This run-in was with a brilliant and radiant woman I'd met through work, and with whom I'd exchanged meaningful words before- vulnerable and transformative words that brought us both to tears, and then back to ourselves.

 

That night, when I ran into her again, she surprised me with these words:

 

"LAUREN, YOU SPARKLE FROM THE INSIDE OUT!"

Sometimes we can't see ourselves objectively at all. We forget our sparkle or we think it has faded, when in fact it's burning bright. If a bystander can see my inner sparkle in a matter of minutes? Then clearly it's bright enough to light my way forward. My friend reminded me of that.

 

BECAUSE SHE SAID THE WORDS. OUT LOUD.

Fast forward to this week, which found me doing a big, important thing before I felt ready. In the midst of looming insecurities, doubts, and fears, I decided to share my sparkle by (finally) launching this blog. I wrote something vulnerable and hit "publish." Then, I shared it to social media in hopes that my story would find its way to someone facing a similar struggle. That my words would find resonance with them, and perhaps provide a bit of clarity or peace.

 

The next day I received a heartfelt message from one of the strongest, most resilient women I know. This friend is currently facing some of the most formidable medical, legal, and parenting challenges imaginable. Amazingly, in the midst of it all, she took the time to reach out and let me know that the words I'd shared were meaningful to her. That she kept coming back to my blog post over and over again, reading and re-reading the words as a reminder. She called the timing of my post perfect, and let me know that she'd revisited it right before walking into an anxiety-inducing meeting. My friend let me know that she found help and hope in the midst of a meltdown.

 

BECAUSE I SAID THE WORDS. OUT LOUD.

You don't have to have a blog or a platform to speak your truth. You don't have to have a friend in crisis in order to offer encouragement. You don't even have to know who or how your story will help. All you need to do is find the courage to:

 

SAY. THE. WORDS.

 

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Lauren DayComment
It's Happening Around Me, Not To Me

Yesterday I relayed a story to my therapist about an upsetting & recurring pattern that is once again playing itself out in a close relationship of mine. At some point in the story he stopped me in my tracks to remind me of this truth:

 

"What she says and does doesn't affect your day-to-day life, Lauren. Her words and actions only affect you if you allow them to." 

Boom. Yes. #Truthbomb dropped.

It's taken me years (and a shit ton of therapy) to begin to grasp and apply this concept consistently. It's pretty much the polar opposite of everything that was modeled and taught to me for the first 30+ years of my life, and undoing the damage of decades of bad messaging? That takes time. (And, as the above exchange would suggest, it also takes occasional reminders.)

 

I left my therapy session feeling pretty damned good- enlightened, but also empowered to take decisive, healthy action in the situation I'd brought to the couch. 

 

And then? The universe decided to present me with an immediate opportunity to put my renewed resolve into practice. Over the next few hours I allowed myself to get swept up in a cyclone of reactivity. I accepted the invitation to a conversation where I not only felt the need to speak my truth, I "needed" my truth to be validated. I not only needed to be balanced and boundaried in my responses, I "needed" to somehow ensure that he acted with balance and boundaries too. I "needed" to defend myself. I "needed" to prove my point and in doing so, disprove his. I "needed" him to see the light and agree with me.  And all the while, as the conversation continued and the tone and tenor got worse, not better (big surprise there, right?), my therapist's words kept ringing in my ear:

 

"[His] words and actions only affect you if you allow them to."

Eventually I stepped out of the eye of the storm, and got clear with myself. The only person I am responsible for is me. I can't control what he says or believes or does, but I can control whether I let his words and actions hold power over me. I can release "needs" that are dependent upon another person, recognizing the truth that: 

 

I am the only one who can give myself what I need.

And so, this time I stopped myself in my tracks. I said goodnight and bowed out of an unproductive conversation. I asked myself what I needed most in that moment, and then I gave it to myself: Peace. A book and my bed. Deep and restful sleep.

 

Fast forward to this morning.

 

As I got ready for work, I again asked myself what it was that I needed most. This time the answer was meditation- to begin my day calm, centered, and at ease. So, I pulled up one of Rebekah Borucki's 4 minute meditations and gave myself the gift of mindfulness. And in doing so, I received another gift. A timely and serendipitous reminder of where other people end, and I begin. And because we all need reminders sometimes, I wanted to share that gift (that came in the form of a mantra) with you:

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Lauren Day Comments