- Published: Monday, 11 August 2014 11:04
Don't Be Your Own Worst Enemy
"Think twice before you speak, because your words and influence will plant seeds of either success or failure in the mind of another." --Napoleon Hill
One of the most powerful and transformational forces in the universe is our words. They are the creative energy of the world, and by our words, we influence our world. For example, words like "You did a great job!" "I believe in you!" "It's going to be ok," "I am here to help," "It's a boy/girl," "This is treatable," or "I forgive you," can elevate people to incredible heights. They can help heal wounds and give hope. They can also produce an environment where creativity flourishes and people feel empowered to succeed. OR.....we can use words like "Can't you do anything right?" "You're such a loser!" "I would've done it myself if I knew you were going to mess it up!" "I'll never forgive you!" "Everyone knows you will never amount to anything!" "You are just like ___________," "I hate you!" Words like these can emotionally maim someone for life, wreak havoc on a marriage, children, co-worker or employee. We have all experienced the positive and negative effects of the words of others. I have seen the devastating result that words play in a person's life, whether by employer, spouse, parent, etc., in my practice. It always leaves scars.
Whatever arena we are in at any given time, whether work, home, church, school, we are setting the environment for success or failure for others and ourselves by the words we choose to use. Proverbs 18:21 states "Death and life are in the power of the tongue." The words we speak are a direct contributor to the amount of stress we feel in our lives, our relationships, and our situations. We say hurtful things to others, which sets up strife and tension. We lie to someone and then spend an enormous amount of energy trying to cover our tracks. We make promises that we don't intend to keep, but then get mad when someone calls us out on it. We cut people down to others and then wonder why others don't trust us. And sometimes we can come across as a bully, not realizing that we are becoming toxic.
Our words not only affect those we are around, but they can have a devastating effect on how we view ourselves. We have approximately 120 self-talk messages per minute that fly through our heads, and the majority of them are usually negative. We can be our own worst enemy, acting as a bully toward ourselves. For example, "I am so stupid!" "I'm not good enough," and "I am a failure." The list could go on and on. If you hear something long enough, you tend to believe it--this is called audio-suggestion.
So what do we do with our words? How do we start to influence those we are with and ourselves in a way that is going to help promote creativity, productivity, and health?
- Stop making excuses for why you say hurtful things (that's just the way I am). Excuses are designed to give us permission to continue doing what we have always done;
- Pause before speaking. Ask the following questions: Are the next words out of my mouth going to build up or tear down? Am I speaking the truth or lie? If truth, am I speaking it with the right attitude and motive, in kindness?
- Is what I am about to say necessary? Unfortunately, a lot of what we say doesn't need to be said;
- Refuse to use verbal digs/sarcasm to get your point across;
- Be careful not to send mixed messages. One way to safeguard against this is to have the recipient of your words repeat back what they have heard you say;
- Be tenaciously committed to the process of rehabilitating what comes out of your mouth toward yourself and others.
We can try to implement all levels of wonderful programs in our organization to pump up production and creativity, or try to do things at home (vacations, gifts, etc) to help create more harmony. That's all well and good, but if our words do not reflect our desired outcome, it's all in vain. Henri Nouwen gave sound advice when he wrote:
Did I offer peace today? Did I bring a smile to someone's face?
Did I say words of healing? Did I let go of my anger and resentment? Did I forgive?
These are the real questions.
I must trust that the little bit of love that I sow will bring many fruits, here in this world and the life to come.
In short, it starts with you. Are you investing in yourself and others by treating yourself and those around you with respect and compassion? If not, it's a good place to start!