What Did You Say?
I’m an analyzer. It’s part of what I do for a living. I take numbers, scenarios, and behaviors, pick them up, get a feel for them, and analyze the moving parts to try and make them more functional. This is just how my brain works. Long before I got paid to, I was sharpening this skill in my personal life. I turn over and investigate my relationships and most of all, myself. I replay conversations in my head and try to make better sense of what the other person was trying to communicate, along with what I said vs. what I was actually trying to say.
If you’re anything like me you’ve probably done the same thing. Bordering on overthinking, we have a tendency to pick apart people’s words long after they’ve said them, searching for some hidden, alternate meaning. A certain amount of this is healthy and even productive. Analytics is, without doubt, a very valuable tool for deeper insight—but what about the metrics we ignore? Are there measurements we should be giving extra attention to?
We tend to dwell on what we say to others; how we come across and what the other person thinks of us—and we utterly dissect the words of other people like a coroner bent over a dead body. Half the time just obsessing and the other half truly trying to make better sense of the exchange.
It occurred to me that what we rarely analyze enough is what we say to ourselves.
The last time you found yourself in a replay conversation did you stop to analyze what you said to yourself about you? What did you tell yourself about what you heard? Whether you realize it or not, on any given day you send yourself no less than 10-15 internal messages. They’re the mini-truths you take away from your experiences.
When you walk in a room full of people do you tell yourself things like, “I don’t fit in here.” or, “I’m awkward and uncomfortable”. Sitting across from someone you’re having a conversation with do you say things like, “I’m disappointing them,” or, “They don’t like me”.
We let these messages in and just accept them as truth—but should we? Why do we over-analyze what we say and what we hear from others but rarely scrutinize what we’re telling ourselves?
Just because we think it doesn’t mean that it’s the truth.
I know that I’m so much harder on myself than I ever would be on anyone else……so am I really the best person to be feeding rapid-fire, un-checked truths about me to myself? Probably not. If my bias is bent toward myself then what I really need to spend time doing is analyzing what I’m telling myself about me.
The next time you pull out the scalpel and start an autopsy on a conversation make sure to ask yourself, “What did you say to you?” Are your mini-truths really true? Do they hold up under objective scrutiny? If all they’re based on is how you felt, that’s not truth….that’s perception. Do yourself and everyone else in your life a favor and chuck that in the trash.
How you might “feel” about you is not the total sum of the “truth” about you.
Retire from the position of being your-own-critic and step into the role of being your-biggest-fan. Give yourself and others the benefit of the doubt and always, always watch what you say.