Monday, September 21, 2015

An exercise in self-awareness

Today my English 101 professor instructed us to pull out of sheet of notebook paper.

"Rip it out of your notebook. I want you to write down all the words that stop you from doing what you want. All the negatives."

And so we did. I glanced around the room at my peers as they frantically scribbled--a flurry of pen against paper. I had my own list. It wasn't short yet it wasn't long. And I knew that everything I wrote wasn't really true. I'm not really stupid. I know that my ideas do matter. It's just easy to let those ideas fill your head on a cloudy day.

"Okay," she said, "take that paper and crush it."

As we did this she excitedly rushed around the room with the trash can and instructed us to throw these powerless words away.

"Words don't have power unless we give power to them," she told us.

The therapy session had begun. We had purged our minds of the negative. I thought to myself--okay Professor Nofsinger, where are you going with this? 

"Take out another paper and write down the words you want to hear most."

This was easy. No one likes to admit it but we all love having our egos fed. We all want to be considered smart, We all want to feel beautiful. We want people to listen to us when we have something to say. It's in our blood.

"Fold that paper nicely. Put it in your pocket, Put it in your purse. Keep it close to you. And when you find that paper later on, you won't need to read it over and over again because you'll understand the power those words have. That's the power you give them."

Okay, that's all well and good. Be positive, don't let things get to you, etc. I couldn't help but feel like I'd heard it all before. But as my classmates and I got up to leave (20 minutes early, I might add) I noticed that the entirety of the class had smiles on their faces. That small dose of positivity was exactly what they needed on this Monday afternoon.

I guess sometimes we need to examine the things that make us happy, or sad, or angry. Taking a moment to understand why we feel the way we do can be freeing.

Words only have power if we give power to them.

That's what I learned in college today.


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