Words Matter

Have you ever had friends that were always using verbiage that you may or may not be familiar with? Someone in my life recently responded to a post I set up. This person and most of their family were rude on the post, condescending, and very disrespectful. No, their words didn’t state direct context but it was the insinuation that led into the comments that made me wake up. I truly love the people in my circle but I’m not willing to let anyone make me feel like I’m an idiot. This same person hasn’t spoken to me since and frankly, I haven’t really reached out either. It’s a shame though. When you recognize that others aren’t willing to put an effort into a friendship that has spanned decades, you begin to see the true colors that you never wished to encounter.

I can be insensitive sometimes. I’m the type of person who has taken and taken and taken bullshit all my life and to be frank, I didn’t start standing up for myself until the last few years. I’ve had doctors who treated me and my family as if they were superior because they had the MD status and yet, when my mom and I started asking questions that proved we not only knew what we were talking about but that we were demanding respect, everything shifted. The same can be said for many of us.

In this movement of the Black Lives Matter, everything that is said about this movement and other movements matter. There is more scrutiny than ever before and to some degree, there are some things that have been taken so far out of context. There’s a steep learning curve. Phrases that the white community have said for generations are not acceptable. We are living in a time where we must think before we speak or the ramifications could be gigantic.

In some of my relationships from the past, I’ve been told that I just needed to get over feeling slighted when my boyfriend at the time would tell me that women weren’t meant to do more complicated roles. We should just be bearers of children and provide meals for our significant others and please them in the bedroom. To hell with what I needed. When a person hears constantly that they are worthless and deserving of being abused, at some point, it gets difficult not to believe it. When bullies start taunting others it can be disheartening. When lies are told in relationships, it can come back to bite those relationships with destruction. What comes out of our mouths in words has consequences.

I’ve made no secret that I handle social media accounts for two churches. One of those churches has a group that makes high school cliques look really tame. They often tell me that they don’t want things posted on the social media accounts. They sell items but don’t want the outside public to purchase. Huh? I don’t get it. You want people’s money but you don’t want certain people to buy? Talk about the elite class system. I’ve always been raised that if it’s something to raise money within a church that you reach out to all not just the ones in your circle.

When I hear the words “thank you” there’s ways that “thank you” can be construed as a sarcastic commentary. The way we say words can also impact how much our words matter. I would be willing to bet there’s a large majority of you who have been in the restaurant business at some point in your life. More than likely, you heard conversations that were both appropriate and inappropriate. I’ve often said that each of us could write a book on the things that we’ve heard come out of others mouths. The hardest part is keeping your tongue in check when you are itching to say something and not allowed to. If everyone on t his earth that is of working age and capable of working, could work in customer service of some type at least once, they would understand some of the vulgarities that are spewed towards those who are employed in those industries. When I worked in fast food as a teenager, I often heard lewd, sexual comments by some of the most cringe-worthy men I’ve ever encountered. It’s not easy to be a teenager in this world. Bullying and ogling are something that too many people deal with on a regular basis. The obscenities that are thrown at people can leave impressions that never go away.

Not only do teenagers have to deal with words from others that can leave a mark on our selves, but it happens in schools, in jobs, careers, personal relationships and in networks. It can be very difficult to feel as if the world isn’t trying to attack a person’s self esteem. It’s no secret that our words have power behind them. Life can be tricky enough. When a person already has low self esteem, they are not able to have the strength to see their potential. Every single person on this earth has talents and gifts that others may or may not have but we are all unique.

When I was in high school, I attended a prep school. This was not my choice. The public school system had a counselor who told my parents I wouldn’t amount to anything more than a secretary. This infuriated my parents and didn’t do much for my psyche either. In fact, it stuck in my head that’s all I should be. I didn’t know how to fight those words. I wanted to prove I could do anything that I set my mind to. Instead, I retreated into a shell. I let her words dictate my future. It took me a very long time to understand that my future was what I wanted it to be and not what someone else said it would be. For someone who was a counselor, she had no right to label me. I allowed her label to stick into a passive mindset. Thank God I had mentors who broke me out of the shell and let me fly. They are the people that I am grateful for. Their words of encouragement broke barriers for me.

My circle of friends includes folks from every walk of life. We all have the kind of friendship where we can have honest dialogues about what bothers us. Very little is not covered in our conversations. When we make each other mad, we let each other know it and know why. At least most of us do. There’s always exceptions. Here’s the thing. You will never hear me put my friends down in a derogatory context. In the past, if I did this, I would be called out on it and rightfully so. The older I’ve gotten the more attuned I am to the fact that my words can have the power to either sting or help. I don’t like to use words to sting unless it’s really necessary. I want my words to mean something good. And I want to be able to back up the words with actions. Only then can words really mean more than words.

Communities are all banding together more in these movements across the world. Awareness is being spread like wildfire that words and actions go hand in hand. I truly hope that whatever your calling in life is, that you find a way to make your words have a positive impact rather than a negative one on those you encounter. It’s really easy to complain and put others down. What isn’t easy is to keep a cheery disposition when the rest of the world seems to be itching for war. Divisions are rampant. What our society is doing is yelling at each other that each side is right instead of listening to the problems and choosing words carefully. Both Democrats and Republicans are not willing to bend on anything and the words come out of their mouths show how completely out of touch with their constituents they are. The average person deals with enough drama in a day. We deal with unhappy bosses, customers, co-workers, and family. We hear the negative talk on every aspect.

Change your day. When you wake up in the morning, start by saying it’s going to be a great day. Go grab your morning cup of coffee or whatever you like to drink to wake up. Start each day as if it’s a new chapter in a book you are writing. Think about conversations that you may need to have with others. If you have a strained relationship with those you work with, see if you can find out ways to learn from them. We’re all human. Be ready to tackle new conversations with openness and kindness. You may just find that your words are changing others attitudes as well. Sometimes it just takes one person to start with small changes in their choice of wording to help others realize that there is more respect being shown. For my friends who keep me learning with my words, I’m truly grateful. After all, if we aren’t willing to learn from our mistakes, then how can we continue to grow?

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