fostering a community of people interested in exploring strengths
The language we uses creates our reality. That’s one of my firmly held beliefs. It’s also a firmly held belief of Appreciative Inquiry practicioners. AI is a change methodology that posits that what we focus on expands, so look for what’s working in a system and learn why it’s working to inform your way ahead. By seeking what’s working in the system and shining a light on it, you also crowd out what’s not working. If you go looking for problems, you’ll find them. There’s no doubt about that. There’s also no doubt that the very investigation of problems often blows them up. Like a scab. Pick and pick at it and it gets infected and you have a bigger problem than when you started. Good analogy, if not a little gross, sorry about that.
What I was thinking about this week was the language of my internal voice. I’m so cognizant of the words I choose to describe experiences to others or to support them as a friend or coach, but realize that I’m less aware of the language I’m using to describe experiences to myself. The internal voice, that I’m largely unconscious of to be honest, often decides to focus on what’s wrong or negative or less than. I catch it, the little sneak. “Oh, this is not good. You haven’t studied hard enough. You didn’t read the entire Chapter three times. There’s bound to be an exam question about what you decided not to read as well. You're lazy and unprepared and uncommitted." And that’s a nice example. “Oh, you look like you've been hit by a truck. Can't you at least make a little bit of effort? It would be nice to wear something other than yoga pants this week.” New mothers around the world might all relate to that second one.
My goal - a lifelong one- is to keep the internal voice congruent with the external voice. It makes no sense that I spend my waking life seeking ways to help others fortify the positive and yet play the same negative tapes over and over to myself. Time to invite the little inside voice to one of my AI sessions and have her learn a thing or two. Are you paying attention little voice? There's a HUGE reward at the end of this process if you stick it out. What's worth celebrating today? What can I appreciate it? What's working here?
"Wow, new Mom. You are so present with the boy. You really know what matters don't you? I love how you can just sit and love him up rather than worrying about a load of laundry. He sure is worth it, isn't he? Oh, and lovin' the new yoga pants. It sure makes sense to wear something stretchy and comfortable when you're busy running all over the house..."
Ah, that feels better.
Have you listened to your self-talk lately? How appreciative is it? Is it winning the deficit battle? What are your strategies for taking your strong life inside?