Hurtful conversations that bring on feelings of anger and resentment are telling you “things must change.” These feelings are killing you, literally. There’s a song from my favorite musical, A Little Night Music called “Every Day a Little Death.” If you listen to the words, you’ll know why I’m writing this. Holding on to bad feelings, fueling that fire within you by re-playing who has done you wrong and why, gradually accumulates to cause mental and physical deterioration. Repeated mental rehearsal of the wrongdoing may be the root of your aches and pains. Research claims that cardiac disease, certain cancers, skeletal health, drug and alcohol use have their roots in the endless looping of hurt you permit yourself to re-live every day. Jealousy, disappointment and worry, the kind that you can feel in your chest, your gut and your limbs, takes their toll on your health.
As an example, I was asked to consult to an employee of a large software company. I’ll call her “Lynn.” Lynn’s boss, the finance manager, was dealing with many personal problems. Feeling sorry for her boss, Lynn agreed to her boss’s inconvenient and non-work related requests despite having a pile of her own work. The CEO, unaware of the manager’s issues, complained that Lynn wasn’t getting her assignments completed on time. Lynn began having mysterious abdominal and back problems requiring two hospitalizations. Test after test was negative. Lynn confessed, “All my life I let others take advantage of me. I never wanted to hurt their feelings, so I put aside myself and put them first. I was angry and resentful.” She had many of these looping, resentment-laden conversations over the years with herself, which she believed led her to sickness. With coaching, however, her inner conversations began to change. Lynn learned to be okay with saying “no” and politely refusing to submit to unreasonable requests. Instead, she offered options and other solutions which satisfied her need to be helpful. Feeling more confident and in control, Lynn’s health is making a change for the better.
You can reverse these “little deaths.” When the anger and resentment seep into your mind, have a mental escape plan ready. Change the conversation within immediately. Do something health-promoting: review your gratitude list, take a brisk walk, listen to a podcast or do something nice for someone. Taking some immediate action, making a rapid and positive shift, weakens the circuit of resentment and strengthens a path of self-regulation. Lynn goes on to say, “…in applying this practice, when I’m reminded of a past hurt, I no longer feel my heart beating and my stomach churning. The dialogue is dimmer. I observe it like a bystander from across the street. I can choose a different way of responding and my body listens.”
How effective is your communication with yourself? How fluently can you change the subject, pick better words, speak the truth and listen to your intuitive voice? For more mindful communication tips visit www.MindfulCommunication.com or write to me at [email protected]