I just had a birthday. It was not a milestone birthday by any stretch, but I never waste an opportunity for celebration, and largely, what I want to do in celebration is eat excessively and drink adult beverages.
It was an incredibly indulgent weekend, and by the time Monday rolled around, my clothing fit tightly, I felt bloated, and I was tired. At that moment, in my head, I heard a familiar conversation that said, “time to get back on track.”
After hearing this, I asked myself what that even meant: to get back on track? Is spending time in leisure with family and friends, watching a marathon of movies somehow "off track"? Is celebrating and being indulgent something that can only happen when one is willing to go "off track"?
I also got curious how that conversation is influencing my actions. And who I’m being when I am doing “off track” activities.
Catastrophe!! I should feel ashamed that I am risking so many lives and destroying this much property!
I believe there is a lot of power in words, and if we consider the literal meaning of much of what we say, we'd start to recognize that we work against ourselves through our language. The first time I really started taking this to heart is when I kept hearing myself say, "I'm broke." Imagine that: to be low on money makes a person broken - unable to function. (And to a certain extent within a capitalist society that lacks meaningful community support and the commons, there is a certain truth to this.) BUT the wilder thing is we KNOW that the poverty/scarcity mindset actually causes people to make unwise money choices. So, this dysfunctionality in decision making, caused by mindset, which is partially caused and reinforced by language, creates the brokenness.
I’m curious about how our language choices feed other unhelpful life choices.
The more we become aware of the conversations (i.e. spoken beliefs) of which we are composed, the more choice we have in reframing anything that doesn’t feel true for us. Do you really believe that money and your intrinsic value or your success are the same thing? Or are those things you collapse into one? I certainly do. And I hear it in conversations I have with myself when I say I’m not enough. The other week I told my coach that my husband’s job is more important than mine because he makes more money.
“More Important” is a story. It’s a conversation I have with myself. What’s not a story/conversation is that he has a bigger income than me. That’s a fact. AND it’s certainly different from the conversation regarding “importance”. What if I didn’t hold that belief? How would the way I feel about my success in my career shift? How could I show up for my clients differently? Hell! How could I show up for ME differently?
Since the birth of my daughter, I have had a very hard time asking my husband for help, especially during the workday. It’s even harder if it’s something for myself and not income producing...as if that’s the only justification for not being with my daughter. And if there’s something work related that still needs to be done, I most certainly don’t get to treat myself.
My husband helps people in his job, it’s true. He has much less of a workload than I do, and he brings in more income for our family. If I operated from there instead of “importance”, would I be more inclined to ask him to take the baby while I did something for myself? I can’t necessarily say for sure, but as of right now, the conversation I am reacting from is not working so well.
When I listen to the conversations I am made up of, I realize that I don’t even believe many of them! Take, for example, the “I’m broke” conversation. That’s not true. So why is my head saying it to me? There are SO many examples for me in the realm of money: “Time is money”, “I can’t afford to be sick”, “I don’t deserve<xyz>”, “You have to work hard to make a lot of money”, “The super rich are evil”, “Wanting money is selfish”...you get the picture.
If I actually believed all that, why do I want to make a lot of money? If most of those things were true, generational wealth wouldn’t be a thing. According to the above conversations, really, the only thing for me to do to make more money is work harder, which we all know is also not necessarily the truth.
But you can start to see how these conversations are impacting how I react to being without money: work harder, get up earlier, give deep discounts. Are the conversations creating my actions, or are my actions creating the conversations?
And what if we took that idea to the collective level, which is where many of our personal money conversations come from. Now what do we see? Abusive capitalism, idolatry of the super rich, a society of people working multiple jobs for countless hours, and a disdain for the poor.
So going back to the “going off track” conversation: I can’t say I know exactly how it’s impacting my behavior, but my guess is that it most definitely is. One way I see my behavior coming out of that conversation is that I go ALL OUT when I’m “off track”, including avoiding healthy behaviors. Well...when you’re off track, you can't be partially on track. It’s all or nothing.
I have not been off track. Maybe the track I’ve been on is called “Birthday Track”. And now, here I am, back on “Track Monday”.
Listen for the conversations you are having with yourself, and when taken to the most literal meaning of the words, how are you reacting from those conversations? How could you use different words and still be fully self-expressed?
Please be sure to share in the comments!! Sometimes these conversations are hard for us to hear by ourselves!