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Be Impeccable With Your Word ~ Thinking Myself Beautiful

July 20, 2010

Written by Teresa Thompson, Reiki II Practicioner

I was 5 years old when I learned I was fat. I was sitting on the kitchen table watching my father wrap deer antlers from his latest hunting expedition. I used to love to watch my father do things and always sat quietly near him, observing intently as he worked with his hands on whatever project needed their attention. My father’s hands were thin and boney, always tan with many freckles. They were agile and skilled, and they moved with the grace and precision of experience as they created the magic of their task.

My father was an outdoors-man. He grew up hunting and fishing, and deer hunting during bow and arrow season was one of his favorite times of the year. On the walls of our dining room, my father had the heads of two deer, plus, mounted on wooden plaques, the antlers of every buck he’d taken home since being married to my mother. For as long as my five-year-old brain could remember, whenever my father brought home a buck, I would watch him ready the antlers for mounting. To do this, he would take leather strips and wrap them around the piece of bone that held the two antlers together. Once the bone was wrapped, he would hold the antlers up to my forehead and I would pretend to be the buck, rearing and kicking. I would ready myself to charge at my father who would hold his other hand up to his own forehead, spread his fingers wide, and pretend to have his own set of antlers. We would laugh and play like this with the antlers in the dining room until my father decided it was time to mount them onto the wood.

On this particular year, the year I began kindergarten, my father once again was wrapping antlers while I watched intently from the table. This time, as he moved to hold the antlers to my head, he put his hand around my forearm. His attention was immediately called from our game to my arm and he exclaimed loudly, and with shock, “Wow, you’re thick!” He put the antlers down on the table and further examined my arm with a look of disbelief on his face. He then looked directly into my eyes and repeated his affirmation by saying, “You’re really solid.” He squeezed my arm in an uncomfortable grip, shaking me as he did so. Then he made a tisking sound with his breath, shook his head, and chuckled sarcastically.

I was wounded by how my father reacted to me, and as soon as he released my arm, I crawled down off the table in silent shame. Walking away with my head down and tears in my eyes, I made my first negative agreement about my physical self. I believed my father was telling the truth and my appearance was displeasing. I was too thick and solid. I understood from my father’s reaction that I offended him, but at the age of five, I didn’t understand how I was supposed to change in order to please him. As I grew older, I fed my agreement with negative self-talk, and through transference, “thick and solid” became “fat.” My father told me this truth when I was in kindergarten and society confirmed it from that day forward through media images of what pretty girls are supposed to look like. I was not overweight as a child, but at the same time, I was not the tall, slender picture of perfect beauty either.

As the years passed I became angry with my father. The few words he spoke so long ago were the foundation of a volatile father-daughter relationship that continued for much of my life. My father was prone to negative comments. He used them to make his point in arguments during my teen and adult years. Every time he did this, I made agreements with myself; my father doesn’t like me, he says hurtful things to me on purpose just to make me feel bad, he is a mean, selfish man who hates his family. Over and over again I agreed that my father’s negative statements were true and he said them because he was a horrible person. I agreed there was no other explanation by which to understand what had happened when I was five, or what continued to happen there after. My words, combined with my father’s, became a terrible weapon of destruction that turned the dream of a beautiful father-daughter relationship into a nightmare.

Don Miguel Ruiz quotes in his book, The Four Agreements, that, “The word is the most powerful tool you have as a human; it is the tool of magic. But like a sword with two edges, your word can create the most beautiful dream, or it can destroy everything around you.” He goes on to say that, “Depending on how it is used, the word can set you free, or it can enslave you even more than you know.” As a very small child, my world had been beautiful. Everything I believed about myself was good and filled with love. My world and all the words used to describe it had, at one time, been impeccable.

My life changed when my words changed.

The definition of impeccability is to be without sin or blame. A sin is anything that goes against the true nature of your authentic self. When you are impeccable, you are not doing or saying anything hurtful against yourself. If you are not hurting yourself, you have no reason to assign blame. If you are not assigning blame, you are not acknowledging destructive words to be something you value as the truth. When you are impeccable, you have no reason to be negative because you are not experiencing negative emotions.

The first agreement Ruiz introduces in his book is, Be Impeccable With Your Word. In other words, tell the truth. But, what, exactly, is the truth? Who determines, it and how do we know what’s right or what’s wrong? Ruiz explains that all of our truths are based on agreements we make with ourselves. Agreements are taught to us by the interactions we have with parents, teachers, the church, our peers, and the community in which we live. They end up forming a belief system. Ruiz calls this belief system our internal Book of Laws. Ruiz states: Without question, whatever is in that Book of Law, is our truth. We base all of our judgments according to The Book of Law, even if they go against our own inner nature. So, according to Ruiz, the truth is whatever we believe it to be. Therefore, what you agree with becomes your truth.

What you agree with becomes your truth.

For much of my life I agreed with the negative self-talk and dialogue surrounding my relationship with my father. I also agreed with his opinion of my body. In making these agreements and allowing them to be my truth, I helped to perpetuate drama and turmoil for over 30 years. To stop this cycle, I must make new agreements to replace the old, self-defeating ones. My new agreements must be impeccable, thus allowing me to love and honor myself. What a daunting task to change a lifetime of sin, but the reward of freeing myself from a nightmare of negativity is a prize worthy of the effort.

The first agreement I have to change is the way I feel about my body. I no longer agree to be the “thick, solid, fat” little girl on the table who feels shame for the way she looks. Instead, I will replace those words with, “I am a beautiful woman who loves and appreciates my body for what it looks like and for the experiences it has allowed me to embrace!” When I love my body, I acknowledge the gifts I have received by having it. Through my body I am able to dance, walk, swim, hug my children, and make love to my husband. I am able to touch, feel, honor, and celebrate womanhood. Without my body I could never have nurtured and given life to my daughter. My body is beautiful, and therefore, so am I. This is MY truth. This is MY agreement.

Now that I have redefined the truth about myself, I no longer feel the need to assign blame to my father for feeling bad. Because I love myself, I can begin the process of forgiveness, and thus, change my understanding of what the truth is about my father. Did he say mean things to me on purpose just to hurt my feelings? Does he really dislike me? Is he actually a horrible person? The answer to each of these questions is no. My father is not a horrible person who hates me and says mean things on purpose just to hurt me. My father is simply unaware of the power of his word, and he was taught, just as I was, to use his word against himself. Ruiz states, “How much you love yourself and how you feel about yourself are directly proportionate to the quality and integrity of your word.” My father was unhappy with himself because he did not learn impeccability. He was taught to sin against himself and to assign blame for that sin. He passed this knowledge on to me because it was the only thing he knew how to do.

I have the power to break that cycle. I have the power to become impeccable with my word. I have the power to change every agreement I’ve made throughout my lifetime regarding my father. I have the power to change the nightmare of our relationship back into the dream it once was. Ruiz says, “If I love myself I will express that love in my interactions with you, and then I am being impeccable with the word, because that action will produce a like reaction. If I love you, then you will love me. If I insult you, you will insult me. If I have gratitude for you, you will have gratitude for me. If I’m selfish with you, you will be selfish with me.”

When I change my words, I change my world.

*Teresa’s wisdom first appeared on Wise Advice

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. July 21, 2010 5:18 am

    Oh Teresa, I heard this on wise advice and now while I am reading this, it makes me so aware again how powerful words are. We can be careless when we speak them and at the same time we can be careless in how we hear them.
    It is a beautiful story about how you can get caught up in words and how you can untangle yourself again. THAT is powerful.
    I wish you and Peggy a wonderful workshop, the women are so lucky to have you both.
    xox Wilma

  2. July 22, 2010 5:57 am

    Hi Teresa and Peggy .. what a terrible thing to pick up on .. aged five .. and then to harbour for years .. we’re lucky that now we can see and understand more of these things and help others who might find themselves in your child-like situation .. at least by offering other words of hope, other ways to look at life, other opportunities, other ways of doing things .. some of those recipients will benefit from looking at the glass half-full rather than half-empty, which so many people tend to do.

    Enjoy the workshop .. and as Wilma says .. you’ll give so much to others .. as we learn when we visit here .. thank you – have a great rest of the week .. Hilary

    • July 22, 2010 11:08 pm

      Dear Wilma and Hilary,

      Thank you both so much for your comments. It took me over 30 years to finally understand how to restructure my inner dialogue. Now, I carefully select words that empower me. It is my dream, through the workshops Peggy and I are giving, to help others learn to empower themselves as well.

      Cheers!

  3. July 25, 2010 11:43 am

    Teresa,
    Right on! I found myself cheering at the end:)
    I had a less than lovely childhood–I learned then to be careful with my words when interacting with others but it took me a lifetime to realize I was mimicking to myself the criticisms I had grown up hearing..So, thank you for sharing here, and in your workshops..you are both sharing awesome Truths, and will impact many lives…

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