My son started saying, “There you go,” when he was around eleven months old. He wasn’t officially talking, per se; he was repeating sounds. (Or so the experts on the internet said).
I never really noticed how many times a day I say “there you go” until he began repeating it back to me. I say it a lot. Every time I give him a drink or snack or toy “there you go” flows from my lips. It’s like blinking. I didn’t even notice it happening until someone (my son) pointed it out. But, his repeating this little phrase (in the exact moments that I would normally be the one saying it) really made me realize how much our words and actions can impact those around us- specifically those who look to us as leaders (our kids or employees or friends)- I don’t mean the impact our words to or about others (that’s a post for another day), the thing that struck me (and has continued nagging me) is the impact that the words we speak about ourselves have on others.
Let me get really real here. When I make a mistake or forget something, my response is not, “Oops!” My response to my mistakes is (and this is a real quote), “Idiot.”
When I get a second helping at dinner ( because I forgot to eat lunch or breakfast or both), this is what I say, “I’m going to get more food because I’m a fatty.”
I could continue to list the terrible things I say to and about myself on a daily basis, but you get the idea. I’m really mean to myself.
What if my son started repeating these things to himself? What if he learned that mistakes are made due to a lack of mental capacity? Or — heaven forbid — what if he thought that being hungry was equated with being “fat” or that being “fat” was less loveable or valuable?!
This habit of verbal self-abuse could destroy my son before he even has a chance to discover how special and loved he is. “There you go” could turn into “idiot” or “fatty” or worse.
I don’t want this for my son or friends or strangers. I want to stop the cycle.
Therefore, I am committing to respond to my mistakes with grace. I am committing to teach my son and friends and you (my readers) that you are not perfect, but you are still loved and valuable. I want the next thing that he repeats to be ” good job” or “nice try” or “it’s ok”.