These are challenges I give myself. Most of them have evolved from my frustration with inadequate word choices, which create the experience of disconnecting from the potency of my own story and keep me from being fully integrated with my life. It’s amazing the power our words hold. It’s rarely ever just semantics…
These practices facilitate a deeper connection to life and to the people in my life. They keep me conscious and thoughtful, challenge my perspective, and keep me engaged and open.
They are listed in the format of Day 1, Day 2, etc., however they can be done on any interval. Maybe a day doesn’t feel like long enough to practice. Instead of moving from one to the next, add each day’s challenge to a growing repertoire. I practice all of these regularly, except for the Day 7 challenge. It’s the newest practice I’m challenging myself to incorporate.
If you decide to take one or all of these challenges, I would love to hear about your experience!!
Day 1: Make a list of at least 5 qualities you admire about yourself. Look in the mirror and say, “I am a [read your list] wo/man and I honor who I am.” I like to challenge myself to find even more admirable qualities to add or exchange as days go by. I also list qualities I’d like to see more of in myself, maybe they don’t feel true to say in the moment – so I say them until they feel true. Often I feel awkward and embarrassed, so I remind myself to be courageous. I remind myself that no one is watching or waiting to refute my statements (except maybe me). Resisting the urge to minimize or discredit my statements can be the biggest challenge of all.
Day 2: Eliminate the word try. When I find myself less than 100% successful, I give myself credit for the level of success I’m experiencing – even when my conscious effort is the sum total of that success. When I am having difficulty expressing my effort without the word try, I substitute the word practice. We practice to increase our skill level, and the word practice honors the effort, forward movement, and room for improvement that I experience. It also eliminates the not doing implication of the word try.
Day 3: Eliminate the word just. I don’t know if this is a southern thing or a widespread epidemic. What I do know is that I hear and say the word just so much I want to scream! Why do I feel the need to minimize or justify myself and my behavior? Eliminating just and try are probably the two hardest challenges for me. It feels so much more powerful when I leave these little words out of the sentence.
Day 4: Eliminate all forms of the words good and bad. These vague words disconnect me from the potency of my experience Why do I think this feeling is bad or this day is good? Why was the movie good? I am much more integrated with my life when I take the time and attention required to get in touch with and express why I am judging something as good or bad. And then, rather than judge the experience, I like to say “I prefer” or “I don’t prefer”….that is more honest for me. My feelings and experiences aren’t bad. They are what they are.
I’m much more free when I let them be what they are and identify my experience as my experience.
I’ve also found that my relationship to that which I don’t prefer has shifted from one of avoidance to one of acceptance. I no longer have to avoid certain feelings or experiences because they are intense.
Day 5: Notice something beautiful, wonderful, or inspirational in everyone and everything. I override my tendency to notice the negative with an intention to see only that with which I can connect. My experience has shown me that I will find whatever I look for. Today I choose to look for beauty, inspiration, and ways to connect rather than isolate or disassociate. This is a powerful practice because I see beauty everywhere.
Day 6: Eliminate the expression “I love you”. I do this intermittently. It is my challenge to do it more and more. When I feel the urge to tell someone I love them, I notice what I’m experiencing about them that I appreciate so much it must be expressed and tell them that instead. I love you is another vague and disconnected phrase like the words good and bad.
Instead of generalizing my intense, beautiful experience of you with three simple words let me tell you exactly what it is I love about you.
Day 7: This is a new challenge for me. Reach out to 3 people that aren’t in my immediate circle of friends or people I am most comfortable calling. Tell them why I am glad they are in the world. Tell them the difference they make. Let them know they are seen and that what they do is worth it.
Feel free to shift and shape these in any way – make them your own. I would love to hear about your adaptations and experiences!!