Say What You Mean and Mean What You Say
How easy would it be to apply the simple phrase, “say what you mean and mean what you say,” to your life for a month? Try it; you’ll see that it is no small task! It’s a job requiring awareness of feelings, pausing prior to speaking, calming oneself, doing away with mechanical chatter and, most difficult of all being authentic. Let’s say, for example, that for the month of January, you would intend to apply this phrase to your life. If you were to say what you mean and only what you mean, that would eliminate many words and perhaps add many more candid words. Do you mean it when you ask someone how they are? Do you mean it when you wish someone a good day or when you say, “I love you,” or when you criticize or gossip?
If I were to observe myself for one month, a mere thirty days; how many times would I find myself in meaningless jabber? Would the self-observation reveal genuine expressions, real well-wishing, valid opinions? Or would I find myself saying what I think people want to hear or what I think is the “right” thing to say, or what my parents taught me to say or the opposite of their teachings; or is my speech just a way to fill the air with sound?
The second part of the phrase is “mean what you say.” I’m sure you’ve heard this before, but have you ever tried living it? Believe me, it is difficult! The following is one method that I’ve tried with success and some of my more humble clients have reported that it has helped them to become someone whose words are congruent with their inner values. If you have a very close friend; try this idea with them. Ask them to help you become more aware of what you say by gently responding to you when they feel that you are not “saying what you mean and meaning what you say.” For example, I was chatting along about the weather, the neighbors, my job, and basically in a habitual mode of babbling. My very good friend gently said, “Sandy, seems like you’re not doing what you said you intended – I mean, saying what you mean and meaning what you say.” It took a moment to graciously receive his kind admonition, because at first I felt a little rebuffed, even though I had requested his aid. After a humbling pause, I listened to my friend, then I slowed my thinking and my speaking to reflect more genuine speech. I felt more grounded and authentic. I began listening better, and engaged my friend with questions – even allowing quiet spaces of time. Our interaction became more warm and personal. Just that brief moment of increased self-awareness triggered by a kind friend, allowed both of us to experience a deeper connection.
Then, who knows, but upon some distant time, I might live my life with wisdom, humor and poise by being the increasingly more authentic me. I challenge you to live a more bona fide life by applying just this one phrase for one month. The simple and consistent act of self-observation will change your approach to yourself and your relationships. From the basis of what you learn in your self-observations, then you have a choice. Without self-observation, there is little to no choice, because the words are just spoken without reflection or thought. A daily practice of pausing to consider this well-worn phrase “Say what you mean and mean what you say,” may help you to develop a character that is delightfully congruent with your values, more aware of the true you, and empowered to be present in the moment.
Show up for your life today!