If you are a writer, like me, you may know all too well the power of words. But in this case, I am not only speaking about what you write and others read. As we hit the halfway point in 2023, I would like you to consider what you say to yourself and to others, what words you listen to, and what you fill your mind with daily.
Words matter. As I grow older each year, I continue to embark on a personal journey to learn who I am, what my purpose is on this earth, and how I can be a better person. Suffering multiple tragic losses in the past year, it seemed to put things into perspective. I realized two things: 1) that verbal words hurt as much as silence in some cases, and 2) that social media ‘words’ can be both helpful and harmful. For example, receiving a simple text message “I’m so sorry for your loss” from a family member (versus a phone call) may be hurtful, but no message at all is worse. I interpreted ‘no words’ as if my loss did not matter or that the young person who passed was not special.
And so I began the challenge of filtering what words I consumed in music, books, from people, news media, and so much more. I then began to speak positive words to myself, versus negative words of failure I may have been reciting from past influences.
As you evaluate your own words, consider how you use them with other people, whether in personal or professional relationships, and most importantly ‘why’ you use them. Consider how often you ask someone ‘how are you?’, but rarely stop to listen to their response. Consider how words have a ripple effect in disagreements, and often spiral out of control into ‘hurt and pain’ that lasts a lifetime. And last, consider how you speak to yourself? Do you tell yourself how awesome you are, how beautiful/handsome you are, or how you will achieve that goal?
As I walk the long road of life alone nowadays, I am also very careful with the words I type into emails to clients and friends, text messages, and other forms of communication. Just because I receive words that are seemingly harsh, I don’t have to return the same words. Honestly, I’ve been analyzing lately the ‘why’ in my responses. Why did that remark make me defensive? Is it related to a past event? How can I change my responses? Sometimes, you may find that it’s necessary to remove yourself from receiving those words.
Knowing My Limits
The same goes for what I read or listen to. I have limited my news time to a maximum of one hour per day and social media to 30 minutes per day. I removed all news alerts from my phone with the exception of those regarding severe weather. Those pages on social media who post words of negativity or harshness, or include ‘triggers’ for me, are unfollowed, and I have followed more pages of religious, spiritual, and positive affirmations. I’ve also filtered out certain rap songs with degrading lyrics about women.
I recall a young person once told me that the stories she read on a blog, articles while scrolling IG, and even podcasts she listened to, contributed to her belief that she wasn’t enough or good enough, and ultimately increased the severity of her depression into actionable thoughts of suicide. You can learn more about the statistics on mental health in correlation with social media here.
Bottom line: Words that we take in and words that we put out matter. They affect our lives and other people’s lives. Take the time to evaluate your words. In your next interaction, I challenge you to ‘lift someone up’ with your words and see what happens.
Until next time…
P.S. Looking for a book of laughter and positivity? Check out my cozy mystery series here.