“What is one thing you are ‘role-modeling’ for your child/ren that you want to change?”
I grew up with loving, generous, and “work in progress” parents. Though they were kind-hearted, their words when upset could be judgmental and sarcastic. I learned that sarcasm was the “safe” way to express my own anger and irritation and it fit well with my “good girl” drama. Though I’ve had many years to unlearn this habit and I don’t use it as frequently as I once did, it’s still a model that I sometimes set and don’t want to. Sarcasm is not an inheritance I want to bequeath to my daughter. While it’s true that she could pick it up from another part of her world (yes, sarcasm is thriving in our broader culture), I’m certainly the most likely source due to the amount of time we spend together. So here’s what I’m going to do based on past success in altering habits of speech that I’m ready to lose.
How to change a habit of speech
- It may seem obvious, but the first step in changing a way that I talk is to notice that I do it. The more discerning I can be, the better I’ll be able to root out the old habit. Usually I simply focus my energy on catching myself any time I use the undesired speech — I also ask for trusted friends to bring it to my attention when I “mis-speak.”
- Whenever I engage in the undesired speech, stop talking the instant I notice I’ve done it. While this sometimes results in awkward pauses, it retrains my brain to stop using this well-worn verbal path.
- Replace the old speech habit with the new communication I want to use. When I rooted out my habitual “should”ing, for instance, I would say “I will,” “I want to,” “My intention is,” or something else to convey what was actually true.
- Repeat steps 2-3 as long as it takes for the old habit to become a rare hiccup and not the norm.
For me, sarcasm doesn’t have a place in my language. It’s dismissive, dishonoring, and chicken-shit. If I’m upset with someone, I want to be direct and transparent in my speech. If I’m feeling judgmental, I want to look at my own feelings of worthiness before seeking to drag someone else down a notch with an unkind word. My words are powerful because they describe my reality and set the energetic tone for my life. Sarcasm separates me from others and paints my world as a place where people are “good” and “bad,” neither of which are realities I want my daughter to believe in. So here’s to a sarcasm-free household and more loving, kind, true, and necessary speaking!
Your thoughts (sarcasm-free, of course) are welcome.