We speak so much throughout a day. We speak to our family, our friends, our co-workers and just people we pass by. We have been speaking since before we ourselves can remember. Language was taught to us by someone older who hopefully and usually also teaches us the proper way to use this language.
We are taught to speak differently in different settings. We know how to speak to our friends, our elders and we often use yet another language when talking to our boss. We know what cuss words are and how they are often inappropriate and we know what manners are and we use them when trying to be polite. We are taught so much about language…but it seems that because we also use it so much…we forget it’s power.
There are quotes and speaches that were made years ago that we still reference. There are lines from movies that can bring us back to a happy time immediately and there are words of encouragement we will never forget….and sadly next to those there are the hurtful words that are also burned into our memory.
We all have an example of each of those things I’m sure. I wish the last were not true but many of us remember the hurtful words more so than the encouraging ones. So why is it…when we have all been burned so bad at some point…are so many of us so quick with our tongue? It’s so hard, in the heat of the moment, with adrenaline and often anger pouring through us…to slow down and think about what it is we truly want to say.
Some people have a “below the belt” reflex (I like to call it). They get a little punch or sting and the immediately go below the belt. They say what they know will hurt the other person and cut them down fast and furious. Why do you know that information? That “achilles heel” of the other person? Because they have either opened up to you enough to tell you about it…or you’ve seen others use it and the damage it causes…so why would you want to do that to someone you care about?
We just don’t think. We’ve been speaking for too long and know too little about how to be silent and listen. No one really spends time teaching us how to listen. In an argument we are often too busy thinking about what we are going to say next that we aren’t even listening at all.
Words are powerful. They can raise someone up or rip them apart in the exact same amount of time with the exact same effort. They are hard to forgive and almost impossible to forget. When we were learning how to drive my father told us all the same thing…”you are now controlling a huge, powerful, killing machine…control it wisely”. I wish someone reminded us of that with our mouths. You are in control of something capable of much damage.
“The Five Love Languages” by Gary Chapman is a book I’ve read a few times and would recommend to any couple. It teaches us that we all have different ways of receiving love. Some people like when others do things for them, others like when they buy them gifts etc…one whole love language is “words of encouragement”. So many of us need those all powerful words from our other half. We need to hear them say “I appreciate how clean the house is” or “I love the way you make my lunch everyday” or simply “you look beautiful…I love you”. Hearing those words can turn a whole day around. It can motivate us, fill us with love and make is feel appreciated. Words are powerful.
So as you go forward the next few days and as you open your mouth to speak…remember that you hold the key to something so powerful it can change a life. Make sure it’s changing one for the better…if not…work on your listening skills.