Watch your words! This is a warning that many hear early, probably as a child, in warnings about how we speak and the words we use. It is truer and more impactful than we probably realize at the time. Our words and how we use them, however, affect us and the people around us powerfully. Some people never realize the power of their words and others realize it and use that power in reckless or harmful ways. Take a minute and see what comes to mind when you try to remember words or phrases, things that someone said that affected you in a powerful or memorable way. Then, think for a minute about why those words or phrases were so powerful. Was it the tone, volume, the meaning or something else? Now think about why you remembered those particular words and what you felt or feel about them now. What was the affect they had? How long ago were those words spoken? Why did you remember them or carry them forward with you? Unfortunately, more often than not, the words or phrases that we remember, the ones that make a big impact and stay with us far into the future are negative, loud and/or angry. Often times they are said in times that are traumatic, embarrassing or make us feel intimidated or fearful in some way. Those seem to be the words that most often stay with us, with the opposite type of words, the kind, gentle, soft, encouraging and affectionate words said in softness, affection, praise and encouragement coming in a distant second. We let them slip away. Yes, if we think hard enough those words are there too, but they usually don’t come to mind first. They seem to be dominated or over-whelmed by those other louder, more critical and negative words. This is powerful knowledge. Both for being aware of what we say and how we say it, but for evaluating and filtering the impact of our memories. People say things they don’t mean in ways they would never want them to be remembered and yet, that is exactly what happens!
As a coach and hypnotherapist, I have clients tell me in tears or on the verge of tears something that a parent said 30 or more years ago or a now ex-spouse said a decade ago and it is, as if, it was said yesterday in the emotional pain it brings back. When people dwell on these memories of words, often said thoughtlessly, and in a moments of anger, it causes them unneeded anguish and suffering. It is necessary to learn to take the power away from those words, just as it is necessary to learn to use them better to avoid some of this needless pain and anguish they can cause.
Most of the time words are used thoughtlessly and not meant to inflict long term damage on their recipients. Some people do use them very intentionally to inflict pain and these people are often abusive in other ways as well, but we all at times use words and language in ways that inflict unintended damage. This can probably not be entirely avoided, but if we become more aware of what we are saying and how we are saying it, it is a step in the right direction. Especially with very young children, as what they hear becomes how they will speak to others. Even if language is not directed at them, for instance, a child who hears their parents arguing and saying angry things to one another will feel angrier and more hostile and may direct those feelings outward toward others or inward toward themselves. It is also true that it is the underlying feelings that are most impactful and not the words themselves. We feel that energy in a powerful way.
I had a client break down in tears when I let her know that cancelling an appointment at the last minute impacted me and my schedule. I did not say it in a loud, angry or overly critical way, but wanted to make clear that it was not acceptable. She was a mature adult, so I hardly expected this reaction. However, coming from an abusive and overly-critical upbringing, something in my tone and the disappointment she sensed in my voice brought back for her the feelings she felt as a child of never being able to please her parents or do the right thing and thus, the overly emotional reaction. We talked about it and it surprised me how convinced she was that I was angry at her. I simply wanted her to let me know in advance in the future, if she needed to cancel or change an appointment. We worked on changing up her filtering system and trying to avoid those early experiences as a basis for judging the behaviors and intentions of others.
I had to look at the possibility of my tone and words conveying more judgement or emotion than I intended them to, as well. Having had a critical and controlling Mother, myself, that is something that would come naturally to me. I did not think I had been overly harsh, but decided in the future to go lighter in my tone and messaging to be on the safe side.
It is hard to always get it just right. We will probably always miscommunicate and have misunderstandings based on words and how we use them, but the more aware we are, the more attention we pay and the more intentional we become in trying to communicate accurately the closer we will come to that heart to heart, soul to soul communication we all seek.
“Be mindful when it comes to your words. A string of some that don’t mean much to you may stick with someone for a lifetime.” - Rachael Wolchin
Blog By Kate Olson
Kate is a Hypnotherapist, NLP Practitioner & Trainer, Reiki Master, Energy Healer, Life Coach and more. To find out more about her or her work, click the links below:
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About the Blog
After 4 years of featuring at least 1 guest Author a month this blog changed in 2020. I loved featuring the posts of other great people who also believe in mind, body, spirit wellness. I will continue to feature articles submitted to me on this topic that align with my own mission. However, finding & reaching out to others is time consuming and I do it for my radio show, Soul Talks and other groups and projects and so for this blog i will be ramping up my own posts and perspective. posting mostly my own blogs. I will be happy & excited to post articles from those who submit them to me.