A Guide to Mindful Language

As an empathic skin healer, a few times a week I’ll find frantic email subject lines in my constantly rotating inbox from those in need of skin assistance. They’ll scream “HELP!”, “SKIN SOS!”, and “OMG!!!” and will create internal anxiety for me that will almost make me want to shut my computer and cry. The issues that trigger these attention seeking headlines are usually nothing, and by the time I reach back out to the individual they’ve calmed down. The majority of the time, the alarming language that causes me to frantically stop my endless list of to-dos and attend to what I think is an actual 911 emergency usually ends up being a very simple, and easily solvable problem.

As a facialist, I find myself having continuous conversations on mindful language. This ranges from approaching the skin with hateful terminology (which can be detrimental to your healing), to how I communicate a solution for those in need without coming off as defensive, accusatory, or submissive. There is a fine line between being a boss and a healer, and mindfulness language plays a huge part in that.

English is actually my second language and I’ve lived in multiple cities throughout the US, which means that when I speak I try to be mindful of the local lingo. I have to be careful to determine correctly where someone is coming from when they speak. Are they being facetious? Are they serious? Is there a real problem?

Many of us speak in extremes, of which I am also guilty. An example of this is when someone says they “never” or “always” do something. Nothing in life comes in complete absolutes where never or always is an option. When someone claims that their skin has never had any reactions, I have to do my best to explain that with a live organ as large and as complicated as the skin, never is highly unlikely and the unexpected is usually the case — your skin will evolve with you as you make daily transitions in your mind, body, and spirit. If you expect a part of you to never change, you’ll be left with disappointment and a fuzzy version of reality.

Let go of the idea that life can be measured in extremes and absolutes because when that control is released, that’s when the answers on how to heal find their way through your subconscious.

Another part of the mindfulness language that I try to cultivate in my relationships is letting go of the word “should.” When I hear that word, even with its most sincere intentions, it can have a bit of a shameful tone. Many people that I treat in my practice are coming from other practitioners who have promised a result that may not have worked. The directive of “should-ing” someone can be harsh when you don’t know if that person has tried your advice or not.

For example, if I have a client who has an inflammatory condition and I tell them, “You should look into your diet to change things up,” that may actually unintentionally harm their already fragile state by telling them that their choices of nutrition caused their painful skin imbalance. The body doesn’t work in ways to punish you for making a bad choice, but instead the body communicates when it needs support — and that communication can help you decide to make different decisions for yourself. Instead of “should-ing,” I make a suggestion that empowers the individual to make the conscious choice for themselves. “Have you ever considered looking into your nutrition to see how your skin responds to it? Perhaps that could be a great tool for you to see if that’s a rooted cause of your imbalance.”

Lastly, the most important takeaway from the mindfulness language I try to educate my clients on is how important our conversation with ourselves needs to be. It’s one thing to consider this language when speaking with others, but recognizing your own language towards yourself can be the most mindful shift of all.

If you unconsciously tell yourself statements like, “I should have finished my errands,” “I shouldn’t have eaten that,” “I never do anything right,” or “I always mess up,” you could be chipping away at the part of your mind that actually believes in you.

Positive self-talk is essentially reminding yourself to speak with love and light. Whenever I have a client who is self-deprecating to begin with, I ask them to speak to themselves the way they would speak to their best friend. I know I can be real with my best friend but I don’t ever want to speak to her in a hateful or shameful tone — one that can be easy to slip into when I’m speaking to myself. Once that shift happens within you, the language towards others starts to improve since you have an elevated awareness of how words can feel and be received.

Which leads me back to my inbox. When I get these screaming subject lines now, I simply take a deep breath and respond to each individual in a way that I would personally want to be spoken to. It’s simple, but works beautifully to help address their concerns without dismissing their emotional state, and helps them reroute the pathways of where their mindset is going. A little extra effort in your daily mindful language skills can really help elevate someone else (or you) who may need some support.

Born in Canada, with roots of the Midwest and Texas in her upbringing, Hayley Wood is now rooted in the SoCal lifestyle. A holistic facialist and reflexologist with 12 years of experience in the industry, she is the founder of Therapeutic Skin Coach.

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