esther m palmer

When I teach a yoga class, I try to let a little food for thought filter in through the steps and breaths.

Some days, the most magical phrases tumble out.

The eloquence of what I've just said astonishes me.

Did I really just say something that I'm willing to pretend sounded smart and useful? How did that happen?

I'm especially surprised because I don't anticipate or plan for these moments of wit. (When I do, I trip over every word. Classic.)

But whether my words are tentatively planned or off the cuff, I've now built a habit (through the practices I shared to my email list last week) of observing what I say. I try to notice whether it has the effect I need it to -- and even more so, what effect it actually has -- on others and on me. 

You know what that does?

It helps me admit that my speech isn't just mine, it's yours, too.

By virtue of being communication, the words we say don't "belong" to us in the way that maybe our thoughts do.

We all know the old adage that what you say matters. We know now thatwords can hurt and words can heal. And I want you to keep all of that in mind as you think back on your observations of how you speak with the different people in your life.

Because I'm guessing you found that your speech varies for different groups of people --sometimes to your detriment, sometimes to theirs, and, with luck, often to the mutual benefit of both.

Here's an example of what I mean. My husband, dear gentle soul, drops f-bombs in response to the slightest mishaps. Spilled milk and the like. His crass exclamations are for his benefit only. In an instant, they help him let go of his frustration. Thankfully, when his nephew is around, he's a little more careful.

Or say, when I'm in a training full of yoga teachers whom I've just met, I'm likely to respond to a thoughtful comment with "Thank you for sharing. I appreciate what you just told us." But with my friends, I'd just say "omg, I know!"

See what I did there? With friends, I keep my support vague and emotional. With colleagues, I set up my support with precision and formality.

Take note of the words you say, those you choose carefully and those you don't make any effort to control, and you'll start to amass solid data on how you view yourself and others.

And trust me, working with solid data makes it much easier to speak your piece and play your part in all your relationships.

Go on. Get talking... and noticing.

Observing with you,


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