"Words are free. It's how you use them that may cost you." -Unknown
I absolutely love this quote! It's simple yet very powerful. Words matter. The old saying, "sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me." that is such a lie! Words can hurt! In fact they do far more damage than we would like to believe. How many times have you said something and wished you could retract but it was too late? How many can identify with the fact that at some point in your life someone has spoken words that brought deep hurt and pain? What about words you have even said to yourself? The reality is if words are not used well, the damage can be long standing in someone's life. Proverbs, 15:4, "Gentle words bring life and health; a deceitful tongue crushes the spirit."
Take a moment and think about all of the words that you have heard negative and positive in your life? Which words are easier to recall? The negative words are always those that we think of first. So, tell me, do you think words have power? Think about the words you have spoken to your spouse, friend, your child, or a stranger, are you proud of ALL the words you've spoken? I'll give you a minute. This examination isn't easy to do. Now, I want you to think about all the words you've spoken over yourself. OUCH! That hurts, right? If you're anything like me, you often speak things over yourself, without really even acknowledging that you're doing it until behaviors or mindset begins to deteriorate. James 3:5,"The tongue is a small thing, but what enormous damage it can do.(TLB) Trust me, I know this isn't a fun or an easy to digest paragraph, but I want to help mold and shape your communication so that it's effective. In Proverbs 18:20 it says, "Words satisfy the soul as food satisfies the stomach; the right words on a person's lips bring satisfaction." Don't you want your words to water someone's soul rather than tear down their confidence or self-worth? Even if that someone is you?
Here's another quote worth repeating, "Be sure to taste your words before you spit them out."- Anonymous Think about this for a moment! A great way to process "think before you speak". If you think about how the words will taste once they have come out of your mouth, maybe the choice will be different. We must not forget that we choose our words before we speak them. I have often struggled with my mouth. While I was a curious child and often asked the dreaded "why", I also didn't have much of a filter for my words. In fact most times, the words flew out of my mouth before I could even stop them. Although, at that time I didn't know I even needed to stop them. I was BRUTALLY honest. I had to learn as an adult how to taste my words, because there were times that my words were cutting people and I didn't realize it. It took people that loved me enough to be honest with me about how my words hurt them and a lot of prayer for God to hold my tongue. It hasn't been an easy process, I've had to learn how to tailor my approach and words to my audience. I've had to ensure that when I say something my motive and heart is in the right place. Often times it is not what we say it is the way we say it. So I'm still learning to not be so quick to speak. The Bible says and I'm paraphrasing, we need to be slow to speak quick to listen. (James 1:19 ). As a coach I have learned this is key to being successful in all relationships.
There are a few more points to consider so stick with me, I know we are going down rocky terrain. Even as I shared my examples trust me the process was not easy or pretty. Take your time, and allow yourself to digest. When we are able to bring awareness to behaviors and speech we are then able to determine and learn how to reframe and change how we interact with others and even ourselves. Now that you're thinking about words, I want you to think about the words that you have used so far this morning. Have you had positive or negative interaction with others? What have you said to yourself this morning? I would say close your eyes, but then you won't be able to read the rest of this, so read on, but stop to think about this next point. What happens if you use your words anyway you want? Remember, they are free of course. Might as well use them as frequently as possible regardless of the outcome, right? What if I said to you that one day, you will have to give an account for every word you've spoken? Would that change your mind in how you use them? I mean if someone is keeping count, then clearly you should want to explore how you are using your words, right? In Matthew 12:36 Jesus tells his disciples this, "But I tell you, on the day of judgement people will have to give an accounting for every careless or useless word they speak."(Amp) OUCH! Maybe I need to check my words. If I am going to have to give an account for my words, then that must mean there is POWER in the words I speak.
In Proverbs 18:21, "Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruit." (NKJV) Is it safe to say, at this point, you realize that your words have the ability to build or destroy? If our words are so powerful, then why do we so freely use them to hurt people? Maybe you don't even realize what you're doing to tear down someone's self-esteem or make them feel like a failure. That is why it is so important for us to really take stock in the words that we are speaking over others, and ourselves. Now that you understand the power of your words, and how they can be used to build and destroy, I want you to think about how you might be able to reframe some of the things that you have said to others, and yourself. This will help you to know in the future that you want to build and encourage with your words, not hurt and tear down people. Here are some examples from my personal experience. I find that I'm carless with the words I speak over myself versus what I speak to others (not perfect, still working on this). Sometimes I will say to myself, "ugh you're so stupid, why did you do that." My reframe is, "ugh, that wasn't the best decision, but now I know." Hollie, you're so ugly. My reframe, "that dress isn't the best look try something else." I have said to my husband, "Why would you do that?" (in a tone of extreme frustration). Reframing that would be, changing my tone, and asking in an inquisitive way, "Why did you do that?" We have to understand the power of our words, and the power of our intonation. If this has helped you, please comment and let me know. If you need more support or suggestions, we are happy to set up coaching consultations with you.