The power of words

Words are powerful things.

So often they fall out of our mouths with little regard of the impact they have or from a space of unconscious noise making.

Because many of us are uncomfortable with silence, we run the risk of releasing what can seem like an endless diatribe of meaningless dribble.

Many of us fear invisibility as we age,  so we feel filling the silence with a stream of noise will make us seen.

The sad thing is the result is often the opposite.

People create space by switching off to your words, potentially missing the vital thing you need to say.

Preventing you from being heard, which is the thing you require most desperately.

I am sure that every one of us can remember something said that potentially changed our life. Or something we have held on to as truth, influencing our belief about ourselves and our place in the world.

The sibling that told us we were ugly.

The parent who told us we were a disappointment.

The jealous person who pointed their inadequacy our way hoping our defeat would create their victory.

I know I can.

The question must be raised with whom does the power in words lie?

Is it with the person speaking or is it with those that have heard?

I know as I have got older, I have come to realise two things.

 We have control of the words we say, and we have power over the words we choose to let in and carry around with us.

I got thinking about this after an exchange. Someone was telling me how they could not forgive someone else for words spoken 25 years ago.

The irony was that these words were not said directly to them – but to someone they were close.

The words they used about the event were strong as well as the emotion behind it.

They had 25 years to build after all!

I was saddened.

25 years is a long time to give such power to words that have probably long since been forgotten by the person who spoke them.

25 years of building up a story around a flippant statement said in the heat of the moment.

Don’t get me wrong. What was said was not particularly pleasant; however, I am challenged to believe the words were worth giving up 25 years of life.

How often do we give meaning to words that were never actually meant in the context they have been interpreted?

Where does the responsibility lie for the meaning we take out of words?

Seek first to understand then to be understood!!!

My own belief is that we give power to the words we choose to give power.

We can choose to hold on to things that wound us just as quickly as we can choose to let them go.

Take what grain of truth we feel exists and then move forward, leaving the words in that disowned space between giver and receiver.

Yes, we do need to be mindful of what we say.

Will these words bring togetherness or will they create separation?

Will they improve on the silence?

Sometimes no matter how we put something, it is misunderstood and taken personally.

At want point do we need to fully understand that we are not responsible for someone else’s hurt feelings? No matter how harsh words are, can we not still choose the power we place on them?

If our intention is always not to harm, then we need to choose words that support us doing that.

However, on the quest to speak our truth, we need to also understand that the power of words lies with those who hold onto them.

And living a Middlicious life means being wise about that which we hold on to.