Choosing Each Word With Care
Words have power. Which one we choose will often have an emotional effect on the reader. It’s important to consider not only the basic meaning of the word, but the emotional triggers it might set off.
One day I sat down to do one of my guided meditations. Something didn’t feel quite right, but I didn’t figure it out until I was a few minutes in. I realized I’d started listening to the previous week’s audio instead of the one I needed to listen to. After switching to the right one, my mind started playing a semantics game. At first I thought of what I’d done as a mistake, but quickly changed it in my mind to “error”. Somehow, there’s a different energy in the two words. “Mistake” seems to feel negative and harsh while “error” is more of an “oopsie. that wasn’t what I meant to say/do. Let’s back up a bit and get back on track”; a feeling where there’s no harm, no foul. Just a step back to regroup before moving forward again.
Once I’d clarified semantics in my head, I realized I need to be more aware of how the two words make me feel next time I decide to use one or the other. Words definitely have power, whether I use them inside my head, or vocally. It makes sense since I’ve learned the importance of speaking kindly and lovingly to myself. Not only tone, but the words I choose are so much more important than I’d ever noticed before.
To Err is Human
Everyone errs from time to time. It’s how the human brain learns. Usually, they’re merely missteps; taking off in a direction that’s less likely to allow you to reach your desired destination. It doesn’t mean it’s the wrong direction; merely a more circuitous one that will make the journey longer. It’s not necessarily even a bad thing as the long way around often teaches you lessons, and gives you tools you might otherwise fail to acquire. Those tools and lessons could actually come in handy further down the road, meaning the side trip was actually the right road in the first place despite all the switchbacks and surprises you encountered.
“Mistake” implies you got it all wrong and the direction taken might never get you where you wanted to go. Your goals and dreams would crumble around your feet unless you went all the way back to the beginning, cleared the slate, and started anew. “Mistake” brings with it a feeling of defeat; a feeling of failure. It makes me realize it’s not a word I want to keep in my vocabulary. I don’t want to use it with other people, and I’d classify it as negative self-talk if I used it on myself.
The sometimes subtle but often overt nature inherent in the words I choose serves as a not-so-gentle reminder to me to think before I speak. Often enough I’ll have my words misinterpreted, not intentionally or out of malice, but because the person who hears or reads them comes from a different set of experiences. While I know I’ll never avoid those misinterpretations completely, developing a consciousness not only about the words I choose in a moment, but those I use consistently in certain circumstances is an essential part of developing a life of compassion and love rather then my old, disengaged and lonely one.
Flipping the Script
I’ve learned a lot from my #Borderline family of love, compassion, and most of all, authenticity. The people I interact with every week, both on and off the dance floor helped me break through the hard shell I’d learned from childhood to believe was essential—only to discover it’s a hindrance rather than a help. They’ve shown me through actions more than words that being myself is perfectly OK when I have a group of friends who’ve become closer than family ever was, and who have made it clear I’m loved because of my imperfections; because of my uniqueness. The mistakes my family saw; the flaws they found abhorrent solely because they made me different are the things my family of choice finds attractive in me.
It took me a long time to learn to trust; to believe I could be myself, err at times, and ask forgiveness when I inadvertently hurt someone. I first had to learn conformity and perfection are tools of the insecure. They belong to people who are so uncertain of their own strength that they believe they must control their world with sameness. No wonder I never fit in. I wore myself out trying to belong, when my truth, power, and purpose was in breaking free of the familial bonds to be myself. I had to learn to be wrong before I could figure out where I was not only right, but perfectly imperfect.
Those Who Thought They Knew Me Best Used Words Most Cutting
It wasn’t friends and acquaintances who first taught me words could cut deep. My initial lessons were part of what was considered a normal family upbringing; parents showing me the harshness of the outside world so I’d stay within the safe, albeit constraining family circle. It was hard being a rebel when I was a child and teenager. It seems I was always in trouble or at odds with my parents. I learned I couldn’t do anything right until, in my early 20’s, I stopped trying.
In hindsight, I burned down the barn when I would have been better served bringing in a couple of cats to clear out the rodents. But the only way to break free of expectations I could never hope to meet was by making a clean, if painful break, killing off anything that tried to follow me into my new life. Unfortunately, in the process, I killed my own spirit too. It was another 2 decades before I’d crawled out from under more limitations, both external and internal to finally pull a frightened and shaking little piece of myself out of the rubble to start feeding it kindness instead of abuse.
Pain is Inflicted Because You Allow It; Often Unknowingly
Needless to say, words had a major impact. It made me aware of how much damage words can do, especially to the psyche of a child, or someone who had been broken into as many pieces as I had. Discovering “The Secret” and “Laws of Attraction” became my lifeline because they taught me new, empowering words I could use to not only replace the old vocabulary which left me feeling like an unarmed knight facing an angry horde, but to change my story and make me stronger. I learned, with the help of a friend to delete any thoughts that didn’t communicate positivity, love, and support for myself.
Later, after reading Eckhart Tolle’s “Power of Now”, I learned to dismiss words from others that cut and bruised. I discovered those words were not really meant to hurt me or anyone else, but to unsuccessfully take the speaker out of his own pain.
When all’s said and done, words never could hurt me. They only hurt when I allowed them to. Still, I take my own lessons and pain and use them to use words less likely to cause pain to others. I know I’ll never be 100% successful, but if I avoid causing pain to a single person through taking care with my vocabulary, I’ll deem the exercise a complete success.
Making My World Better With Gratitude
My gratitudes today are:
- I am grateful for the friend/family bonds which grow ever stronger. It might have taken a tragedy to find some of them, but finding each other is the most important part.
- I am grateful for lessons I’ve learned to make me take more care with others who carry their own pain.
- I am grateful for my morning pages which are responsible for the first few paragraphs of this post.
- I am grateful for Amtrak which brought my daughter safely to me, even if only for a day or so.
- I am grateful for abundance; love, friendship, caring, compassion, connection, lessons, challenges, joy, sorrow, healing, peace, health, harmony, philanthropy, and prosperity.
Love and Light
About the Author
Sheri Conaway is a Holistic Ghostwriter, and an advocate for cats and mental health. Sheri believes in the Laws of Attraction, but only if you are a participant rather than just an observer. Her mission is to Make Vulnerable Beautiful and help entrepreneurs touch the souls of their readers and clients so they can increase their impact and their income. If you’d like to have her write for you, please visit her Hire Me page for more information. You can also find her on Facebook Sheri Levenstein-Conaway Author or in her new group, Putting Your Whole Heart Forward