What Voice Is Driving Your Financial Goals?

  • November 13, 2019
  • By: Greenpath Financial Wellness

Learn to Speak Giraffe: Using Compassionate Communication to Support Your No-Spend November Goals

Hello, my name is Maja Reed. In my role as Empathy Coach at GreenPath, I support employees by helping them deepen their use of empathetic and compassionate communication, so that they can achieve greater connection and success at work.

In this blog, I’ll be presenting the concepts of compassionate and empathetic self-talk. These tools can help you have greater effectiveness and success in your No-Spend November goals as well as your long-term financial wellness goals.

The concepts presented are based on the work of Dr. Marshall B. Rosenberg, who developed Nonviolent Communication, or Compassionate Communication as it’s more widely known.

You might be wondering what it means to “Learn to Speak Giraffe?”

I can imagine readers might be wondering –what does a Giraffe have to do with financial wellness? In Compassionate Communication, the Giraffe is a metaphor to describe when we are speaking with compassion and empathy.

How we talk to ourselves matters. When we use compassionate and empathetic self-talk to describe our feelings and needs, related to our financial goals or our current spending choices, we are “speaking” Giraffe. While most of us believe that compassion and empathy are commendable attributes, numerous people are skeptical about treating themselves with self-compassion or self-empathy, especially when we are enrolled in a debt management program or dealing with financial hardships. We tend to be our own worst critics.

Many people confuse self-compassion with self-pity or think that if we aren’t blaming and punishing ourselves for our financial situation, we will not achieve our goals.

Self-compassion is not self-pity

Negative self-talk is about wallowing in the things we cannot change, and it actually keeps us weak and stuck. Most of us have learned to speak to ourselves in self-critical, blaming and judgmental ways when it comes to our finances. We say things like:

  • I am so ashamed of myself…
  • I should have known better…
  • I have to stop being so undisciplined and irresponsible…
  • I ought to be grateful for what I have…
  • I’m so selfish…

Self-critical and judgmental language is the opposite of “Giraffe Speak.” It contains words like should, shouldn’t, ought to, have to, or uses words that label us as bad or wrong. When we are in this negative state, we are focused on what not to do or what we don’t want. Additionally, all this negative self-talk and self-judgment takes a toll on our emotional, physical and spiritual well-being.

Because Giraffe speak is rooted in self-compassion and self-empathy, we are focusing on self-care and creating a positive shift in our perception of ourselves. There is a lot of research that shows self-compassion is a powerful and far more effective force for personal motivation than self-punishment or negative self-talk. When we can acknowledge our failures without calling ourselves names or judging ourselves harshly, we are more likely to take self-responsibility and commit to changing our behavior.

Learning to speak Giraffe takes practice, yet the more you practice it, the easier it gets.

Here are a few tips to help get you started:

1. Become more aware of your negative and critical self-talk

Instead of continuing on the negativity loop, begin asking yourself “I wonder how I feel? I wonder what I need?” Here’s a link to a list of feelings and needs.

2. Start a Gratitude Journal

Create a daily habit of writing down your negative self-talk. Try to identify any judgments, feelings and needs. Once you’ve done this, spend time writing down at least 5 things you are grateful for.

3. Practice Heart-Centered Meditation or Positive Emotion Meditation

Here’s a link to a quick 3-minute meditation video to get you started. You can also learn more about compassionate communication here.

Need help getting in touch with your inner Giraffe?

GreenPath Financial Wellness can assist you in assessing your financial situation. We work with thousands of people each week to pay off debt, improve credit and lead a financially healthy life. Let’s make a plan for your goals.

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Maja Reed is a certified trainer candidate for the Center for Nonviolent Communication. She has studied, lived and taught compassionate communication for nearly a decade. For most of her career, she has worked in leadership roles in nonprofits and supported people to lead healthier, happier, and more productive lives. She lives with her wife, two cats, five horses, and twelve chickens on a farm in Southeast Michigan.