My brother-in-law, David, said the other day he felt men don’t always say the things to each other that they feel and ought to say. His father, during his life, never said to him those three magic words, I love you, and though David knew his father loved him, he never got to hear it. So David told his step son, that he loved him and was proud of him. These are powerful words that can heal hurts and elevate lives.
There are the words that can change lives in different ways; words meant to hurt, bully, control or put down. Words like, “lazy, stupid, no good, you will never amount to anything, you can’t, etc.” Then there are the words we use when we are rushing parents, stressed out or distracted. We can say things we don’t realize might have lasting negative impact. One can make a choice to be more life-affirming, and use words that evoke that intention.
Pearl Strachan said about words: “Handle them carefully, for words have more power than atom bombs.” Consider for a moment how certain words have affected your life. Did you hear that you were great, or did you hear that you were no good? Did those words contribute to the shape of your life? Some will go to great lengths to prove the beliefs of others are wrong, others will take on a belief as cast in stone.
A brilliant client of mine, Michael, spent a lifetime struggling without financial success, sabotaging himself with a harsh internal critic. He didn’t remember what his parents said to him, but he held a deep belief that essentially he was no good. That belief undermined his every effort.
Some of us may be lucky enough to remember a teacher who said something kind and supportive, others may remember being harshly criticized. We tend to cling to negative comments and forget the positive ones. Perhaps it’s our evolutionary way to help us improve, but instead it can limit us, and contribute to a sense of unworthiness. Words are powerful, chose them wisely. And if you are a mere human and make a mistake, be accountable and apologize. Open your heart and say the tender things that live within, even when they are difficult to say; especially when they are difficult! It will build your character and may just change someone’s life for the better.
What words do you use with yourself and with others? What impact are they having?
Life affirming words: Love, appreciate, proud, you can, you are able, do your best, dream big and try hard, you helped me, you made my day, etc.
Words that wound: You can’t do that, you will never amount to anything, you can’t do anything right, you are no good, You are lazy, you are stupid, you messed up again.
We all want to feel that we are contributing to someone else’s life in a positive way. That is what leads to a genuine sense of healthy self-esteem. We are relational beings living in relationship to each other and our environments. Let’s choose to be life-affirming with ourselves and with others.