It's been my absolute privilege to create a brand that allows me to share my original words & host a community that lovingly connects with them. So thank you for being a part of the blackline community and for speaking back into my world through your emails, comments and messages!
Whilst I release all my quotes into the world with the hope that they meet & inspire you in whatever space and circumstance you find yourself, this series will unpack what my own rationale & inspiration was behind my words.
"It was meant to be considered, not to become all-consuming" - the blackline
Words are one of the most powerful weapons we wield in our lives. It's so easy to be struck down by a harsh word or built up by a word of kindness.
Everyday we navigate a mine-field of words, ideas, opinions and advice being sent our way both from internal chatter and the people we surround ourselves with. In many cases, the sources speaking into our lives mean well but it's still important to consider what weight those words should have in our lives.
I've been inspired by this concept greatly in the last two years. I've realised that in the pursuit of self-improvement you have to be incredibly wise as to whom you give ear to and how you listen to the words being delivered your way. You have to send every piece of information and advice through a sieve and acknowledge that words spoken in love don't always equate to words of wisdom whilst harsh words can still yield gems.
This is my process for separating ideas worth consideration with ideas that I should throw all-consuming energy into.
How much weight should I give to their words?
Before soaking up every piece of "wisdom" thrown at you, it's important to consider who is speaking into your life. Are they a member of your 12 (See: Guard your heart, guard your time)? Do they have experience with and know what they're talking about in the area they're speaking into?
It's important to note that you're going to be more susceptible to words coming from your 12. You love them, they love you; it seems only natural that knowing you best their advice would have more weight in your life. But it's important not to make this a blanket rule. You wouldn't let your best friend who has never been in a long-term relationship give you marriage counselling would you? You'd be more likely to turn to a couple who have been together for 10 years longer than you and your partner and are fostering a relationship you respect and wish to emulate.
This may seem like really obvious advice but in reality, the situation often plays out like this. You and your partner are having problems. You're frustrated. You tell your best friend because after all, she knows everything about you. You discuss it with your best friend. Your best friend, in a bid to comfort and support you offers some advice or puts forth her feelings. You love your best friend. You listen to your best friend. Your friend has effectively advised on a situation that they don't know much about.
Any time you open up about an issue in your life, know in advance what weight you're placing upon the conversation. Furthermore, be guarded about who you open up to - it's much easier if you only consult advisors you trust on an issue than to filter through and offend those whose words you don't place much weight upon.
Should I be listening to this voice at the moment?
In the mix of recognising voices you trust, you also need to consider what is going on in their life currently & from what situation they are speaking. Everyone is fighting battles and it's important to know that this will colour their advice.
Sometimes this will take the form of projecting.
Other times it will be better disguised in body language and the use of language.
Learn to put all words of advice in context - look at how their situation is colouring their advice and how your situation is colouring their advice.
The wisest friends will acknowledge that they shouldn't be speaking into your life or circumstances when they're struggling with issues themselves. At times like this, it is wise to consider whether a counsellor or someone unemotionally involved might be best to speak with.
How many times have I replayed / retold this story?
An outward sign that you're not processing criticism as well as you might, is when you hear yourself telling the story around the offence again; a sure sign you're looking for sympathy & vindication rather than healing and restoration. If you're re-telling the story over and over, you're feeding it. And if you're feeding it, you're growing the hurt and most likely missing any value that could be gleaned from the story. You're allowing what was meant to be considered to become all-consuming.
Ever wondered how people move on from an offence or questionable advice in a constructive way? Here is the list of questions I apply to any situation to turn it from a sting into a positive zing! (Once I've re-told the story a few times of course because I'm only human!)
1. What did they actually mean? Am I loading their comment with pain from my past? Am I linking this comment to comments made in the past? Why do I feel this way?
2. Was I more offended by the method of delivery than the actual words? How could the advice have been delivered better? (You may not necessarily have the opportunity to discuss this with the person who spoke into your life but you could learn a thing or two about how you want to speak to others in the future)
3. In what ways might they be correct? How can I improve in this area? What can be done to positively improve my character and our relationship?
4. In what ways might they be incorrect? What parts of the advice or conversation do I choose to acknowledge and reject? (I find that it works best to vocalise your rejection of these ideas. By speaking words that counteract what they've said out loud, you will not only acknowledge it mentally but hear it also.)
Paying close attention to the words you're allowing into your life and learning to filter them through these lens will help you avoid offence and recognise when advice isn't as sage as it seems.