Remember when we were kids and people said, "Stick and stones may break my bones but words [names] will never hurt me" ? It was a lie. Words are very powerful, they have the ability to build up or tear down those around you. And when those words come out of the mouth of someone who is in a position of power and/or one who is supposed to love you, those words (and the tone with which they are shared) cut even deeper.
I led a very insightful and emotional group session at work this past week, the topic of which was dysfunctional families. And let's be brutally honest, ALL families are dysfunctional from time to time... some just operate on that level more often than others. Most of what dysfunction comes down to is an inability to communicate effectively. And by "effectively" I mean with respect and compassion.
Everyone in this group [of about 35 people] was over the age of 20 and the discussion centered around how their family of origin is influencing their current family dynamics. At first no one wanted to talk about their families (lots of crickets chirping in the room when I am in charge literally scares the poop out of me), then someone chose to be brave and open up. Once that happened, I am telling you, we could have sat around talking about family dysfunction for hours!
A member of the group said she had spent the morning fighting with her boyfriend which usually results in her picking up the first of many drinks. That day she chose to take a walk instead. I told her how proud I was of her for doing that and how thankful her children would be if they knew she'd made that decision with their best interests at heart. She began to cry (it honestly took all my strength not to follow suit) and told me no one had ever told her they were proud of her before. Never. Not her mother or father or a teacher, no one.
Words hurt, but they can also heal. More often then we care to acknowledge words convey judgment, and we know words get internalized [much of the time unconsciously] as we continually mull them over in our minds. So be careful with the words you choose and the tone in which you express them. And if by chance you've said some hurtful words to someone, be big enough to apologize. Use the power of your words and your tone to build up those around you, because believe me the words you choose to share with others, be it your children/spouse/family member/friend/grocery clerk/airline attendant all make an impact!
One of my favorite christian rock artists, TobyMac, recently released a song that expresses this message in a beautiful way...
Next week will be my one year anniversary of writing this blog. I have taken some time to look back over previous posts and realize two things:
a) I am becoming a more present, conscious parent/wife/daughter/friend/counselor for having taken the time to share my feelings in writing. I am always so grateful when someone shares a thought or feeling they have had because of what I have written. I am proud of every post that I have published, and I look forward to sharing more and improving on myself in the posts to come.
b) The topic for next week is a challenge for me...I have thought about it for some time now, and have prayed often about whether or not I should share something so personal. But, it is an important topic to parenting as well as to self-worth, so for those reasons I am going to expose myself to you in the hopes you will learn something from my experience. I will begin my next year by talking about FORGIVENESS.