Papercut and colored pencil art by Sheryl Aronson X 5

Monday, August 13, 2012

The Power of Words

I love my cat, and like many people, I talk and act as if she were my child. I am delighted when I say something to or about her, or mention her name, and she responds with 'Meow." My husband and I will often put words in her mouth, making assumptions about what she is thinking or saying. We can guess, based on her behavior, but there is no way of knowing, definitively, what is on her mind.
People, on the other hand, have words. Words are such an awesome gift. With them, we can let others know exactly what we want, need, think, feel, believe. Words form bridges between people. Along with this awesome gift comes awesome power.
Words build relationships, or tear them down. Words heal, or words harm. Words soothe, or words scare. Words bring comfort, or words cause discomfort. Words can be taken back, but scars remain. Words can be denied, but doubt remains. Words can be altered, but their consequences have already been set in motion.
Think about the awesome gift and the awesome power you have in your mouth and your mind. How do you want to use your words? What message do you want to convey? Before you put any words out into the world in speech or in writing, think about what effect they will have. Is that an effect you want to be known for?
Sometimes in pain, physical or emotional, we say things that could hurt others. Sometimes, we really need to let it out. Find ways to let it out that will not harm your relationships. Scream into a pillow, or write in a journal. But what if that isn't enough? If you have an understanding relationship with someone, try this: When you are both calm, talk about your need to vent when hurting. Set up a signal you can use, such as holding both fists up in the air, to let that person know it is the pain talking, and you do not mean what you are saying. Make sure they understand that you don't want answers or solutions, you only want them to listen.
Next time you need to vent, try it. Hold your fists up (or whatever your signal is) and let loose. Yell, cry, get it out, aiming your rant at the pain, not at the other person. Later, when you are calm, thank them for letting you let off steam to them. Talk about the experience, to make sure you are both okay. This can be draining for both parties.
Words are power. Use them to ask for what you need and want, to express your thoughts and feelings, and to build strong, healthy relationships. A lesson from my cat: Meow respectfully, yowl when you must, and purr whenever you can.

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