friends sitting around campfire

How I learned to accelerate my personal growth

Welcome to the sensitive side of Charli Muchow… the side of me that has become extremely conscious and cautious of what comes out of my mouth and what I allow into my mind. I’ve learned firsthand how much impact my words can have and try my best to only speak positively toward others. Am I perfect? Obviously not.  Ask my family, they’ll confirm that.

Sometimes the first thing out of my mouth is the last thing I want to say. But one thing I’m absolutely positive about is that words cut deep and do not discriminate. Good or bad, they are planted within us and will come to life, shaping us along the way, if fed and watered enough.

I’d like to share a story with you to illustrate exactly what I mean when I say that…

…words have immense power and a tangible effect on your own growth and opportunity for self improvement.

Part of my history includes being a third grade teacher. To this day, I believe I learned more from my students than they did from me, and my final year teaching proved that to be true. That year, my entire class was completely new to the school, and despite the small town we came from where everyone knows everyone, hardly any of us knew each other.

groupdancingAt the beginning of the year, a woman who taught one of my students the year prior, made a point to stop by and “enlighten” me about a particular student and his poor behavior the previous year. I thanked her for the insight and ended the conversation. This did create concern but it was moreso with the teacher than with my student. Sadly, I’d be lying if she wasn’t right about one thing: I hadn’t seen him smile at all the first few days.

The next Monday, I waited for the student to arrive and decided to give him extra attention that day. I made sure he knew I noticed him, made him the class leader, and even sat with him at lunch one of the days. I think it took the entire week for him to come around but eventually, I saw a smile. I wish I could say the class started noticing too but it’s hard not to when their teacher yells, “OMGOSH, YOU SMILED! You need to smile more you have such a WONDERFUL smile!” After that, the class picked up on what I was doing and went out of their way to bring a smile to his face.

Y’all. These were THIRD GRADERS; 8 and 9 year olds who barely knew him and who barely knew each other. They recognized that a classmate of theirs was normally sad, that this wasn’t normal, and did what their leader was doing; went out of their way to brighten his day. A few months into the year, this student couldn’t miss a day without the rest of the class asking where he was and if he entered the room without a smile it wasn’t long until it appeared.

I tell you this story to shed light on the power of our words and self development.

Because his former teacher didn’t take the time to understand him, he became what she believed him to be – a misunderstood and misbehaved, sad child. Had she not told me what she did, I may have thought we just didn’t have a connection and perceived him to be the same. Perhaps her misjudgment was the very thing he and I needed.

I can take no credit for this as it was an idea given to me by a professor in college who had said, “you treat each one of those babies like they’re your own and you make that classroom a family. If one is late to school one day, when they walk through that door you stop what you’re doing and tell them, ‘Oh sweetie, we’re so glad you’re with us today, we missed you so much yesterday.’

Maybe for the first time, he felt like he was part of the family. Did he have his quirks? Yes. Did he give me a run for my money some days? Yes. Was that teacher right? Hell no. She was blinded by past experiences and tried to mold him into what she felt he needed to become. He soon was known as our class clown not because people laughed at him, but because he made people laugh and brought smiles to their faces.

Words. Are. Powerful. They transformed my student and his self development.

If there’s anything I took away from my few years as a teacher it is that we’re all different.

Every person has a talent, a gift, and a separate mission in life. It’s not our job to tell others what they’re meant to or not to do. It’s our job to encourage others to be their best, to tell them what they’re good at when we see it, and to love people through their setbacks, to positively encourage them to be their best, not to be happy when they fail, not to brag and say, “I told you so.” Doing that will make them believe they’re a total failure, maybe not right away but if someone isn’t confident enough in their journey, maybe if they’re just starting out and aren’t full of knowledge like a veteran in that area would be, it’ll have a massive impact down the road.

Like my student who was different than the rest, he was immediately labeled as a child who misbehaves. No, he was just misunderstood and because he was hated by his teacher and know as the class outcast, he “misbehaved”. I believe the population needs to do a better job of taking ownership of the fact that their differences with another could simply exist because they themselves haven’t put their pride aside, rolled up the sleeves, and taken the time to get to know one another. Perhaps in doing so, they would understand each other’s missions and goals and could maybe even support one another.

To become our best selves, it takes belief. In the last two years I’ve had a total mind transformation; from negative self talk and sarcastically joking & ripping on friends, or being the target, to positive self talk and consciously using my words to lift others up.

I’m still working on it and always will be. Here are things I did to build self-belief and improve myself.

personal growth - woman in desert1. Surround yourself with people who are on the same mission.

You’re going to hear doubters and haters, so it’s important to be surrounded by people who are going to inspire and uplift you, who will build confidence in you you didn’t know existed.

2. Know and write down your goals and WHY you’re after them.

If you don’t know why you’re after something, you’re going to revert back to old habits when it gets hard.

3. Unlearn to learn.

Write and read daily affirmation statements. An example of an affirmation statement would be, “I am worthy and deserving of being the most successful person I can be and I will do whatever it takes to achieve my goals.

4. Think before you speak.

T: is it True? H: is it Helpful? I: is it Inspiring? N: is it Necessary? K: is it Kind? Pay attention to how you speak towards yourself and towards others.

5. Start exercising.

Don’t tell me you can’t, stop telling YOURSELF you can’t. Anyone can do 10 minutes of jumping jacks, sit-ups, push-ups, squats, and lunges or go for a walk. Confidence builds when you are feeling good about yourself. So stop telling yourself you don’t have time, put down facebook, and take 10 minutes while watching Shark Tank and do some dang jumping jacks.

6. And lastly, when you look in the mirror, what do you see?

I used to see all my flaws, and I sometimes still do, but after writing these crazy affirmation statements daily for months, I’m starting to see the woman I’ve been writing about. Strong, confident, worthy and deserving of genuine love, successful, fit, supportive and loving daughter and sister… the list goes on. Perhaps I’m becoming what I wrote down because the words are transforming; or maybe, I’ve been her all along but didn’t believe it.

Like I said about words at the beginning, how words are planted within us and if you water and feed them enough, they’ll make you who you are. That’s true, but we’re our own gardeners. We get to choose which soil we feed it, where the water comes from, and how often we weed it. If you give the seeds the best soil and right amount of pure water, as well as sunlight, they’ll become exactly what they’re meant to become. But if you don’t, if you neglect and abuse the seeds, you’ll stunt their growth and they’ll never reach their full potential.

That’s true with you! You get to choose what you believe, what words go in one ear and out the other, and what you tell yourself. You get to choose the TV shows you watch, the books you read, and the music you listen to.

If you want to reach your full potential or help someone else reach theirs, please, I beg you, speak life and positivity into him or her and to yourself. Sometimes all one person needs is someone else to believe in them, much like the student from my 3rd grade class.

I hope that this had a positive impact on you, and if it did, I’d love to know and to hear your story! Feel free to reach me on Instagram @charlimuchow or email me at Charli@mydailysmile.