Helpful Self-Help

I don’t really like self-help books. Let me rearrange that sentence. I REALLY don’t like self-help books. Most of the time, they are filled with superficial fluff, and serve you only slightly better than watching an episode of Grey’s Anatomy (my guilty pleasure). And, when they aren’t as shallow as kiddie pool, they seem to tee you up to feel like an epic failure. Notwithstanding my feelings on self-help books, I finally found one that I feel obliged to share.

When we first got married, someone gave me a copy of The Love Dare by Stephen and Alex Kendrick. Of course, in my true self-help hating fashion, I put it away in Randal’s shed with the rest of the books that didn’t quite make the cut to fill precious bookshelf space (I own a lot of books). I stumbled upon this book when cleaning out part of the shed. And, in a moment when our marriage seemed to be filled with a little less than sunshine, butterflies, and puppies, I curiously opened it up.

This book is great for a few reasons. First, you only have to read 2-3 pages per day. Second, the 2-3 pages are actually filled with substance that makes you think a little deeper. Third, each day comes with a non-cheesy “dare” that makes you apply what you’ve read. The first three dares included refraining from saying anything negative to your spouse. That’s 72 hours of not complaining and not pointing out any flaws. And, since I am obviously 100% perfection all the time, he needs me to point out these flaws, right?! How else would he know what he needs to fix?

And, I have to admit, it was somehow a very hard and very easy 72 hours. It was hard because it made me consciously think about what was coming out of my mouth. And, let’s face it, even for relatively quiet females (like myself), it’s easy just to talk for the sake of talking. However, it was amazing how easily the void of small nit-picky comments were filled with actual, deep conversation. And jokes. I love to tell silly jokes.

One thing I noticed is that negative words don’t just pervade my marriage. Snide remarks often find my conversations as I dole out gossip in an attempt to “relate” to others. Or my frustration leads me to say things that I know cut down rather than build up.

So, I am challenging myself. For the next 72 hours, I will not say anything negative to or about anyone. Period. Instead, I will try to replace negative words with gracious ones (or silence, if I’m about to break). This may not seem like a very long time; however, if you are female, and are prone to conversing with others, you may quickly realize exactly how hard this could be. I mean, what do you actually talk about if you can’t gossip?

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