Tidbit of the Day
In a conversation with my mom yesterday, I was reminded of the sheer power of words to influence other people. I’m really glad I’m doing this challenge. It is adding a mindfulness to my interactions that I had previously taken for granted. Anyway having a chat with mom, I told her a story about the power of words.
When my children were much younger around 20 odd years ago, I used to write yearly Christmas letters. I was always conscious not to make them brag letters or letters where names were dropped of people my readers had never met before. I went to great lengths to make the letter a little tongue and cheek, making fun of myself and my family, yet, still honoring us all.
One year I received a request from one of my recipients not to continue sending my letter. No explanation was offered. I stopped writing completely after receiving this letter as my vulnerable self could not handle this rejection, and the memory continued to hurt for many years.
Now whenever I relay this story, the hearer is usually horrified and lovingly angered in my defense. It was only about three years ago that I started dabbling in the writing world again, and only in the last two where I consider myself making more of a concentrated effort.
Words are powerful things.
However, as I’ve gotten older, my identification with this story has changed from one of hurt towards that person to understanding. There must be some major pain in a life that can’t handle a happy, funny little letter about the life of a chaotic family, and that’s okay. They must walk their journey in their way. I, however, do feel the stirrings of anger…
Words may be powerful, but words are only as powerful as I allow them to be. How dare I give up writing based on the rejection of one person. Many people are not going to love my writing. Is that a reason to stop? Would I want my kids stopping something because they received negative feedback from one person...two, perhaps.
It’s the same with verbal conversations. You will be talking with someone, and they will say something that hurts, smarts, or is less than encouraging. Walking away, you ruminate and turn the words over and over in your mind, but the power is always yours to choose to be hurt, to choose to be discouraged and to choose to walk away from a dream because someone thinks it’s a bad idea.
Don’t give anyone that power. Think what a great writer I would have been had I kept writing for those 20 years. It would have been Shakespearean. Now, I’m starting from Dick and Jane writing…See Jane write. Write, Jane, write.
My apologies. I won’t let it happen again.
I’m disappointed in myself today. I did it again. I overshared about one of my kids. I’m not sure whether they were upset or not, but I put them on the spot in a desire for others to share in one of their accomplishments. Why? I am analyzing lately my desire to create connections between members of my family. I used to feel I served a necessary function to keep the lines of communication open, but I am realizing that I am a barrier in my family learning how to communicate with each other. I allow them to check out because they know mom will make sure everyone knows. I’m glad this challenge is 30 days. I’m going to need every second for this new habit to sink in.
Update: I decided to take ownership of my mistake, and I asked my child if my sharing was out of line. They indicated that they were not bothered at all by my sharing a particular creation of theirs to show the rest of the family. I did tell them that I was working on myself and my habit of oversharing.
Is there a time when someone’s words were powerful enough to sway you from a joyful creative project you had or affected a course of action? If so, what was it? Would you react the same way now?
Ted Talks: Julian Treasure – How to Speak so that People will Listen
I loved his list of seven deadly sins of conversation, and the one that got my attention was that of embroidery/exaggeration. I always thought people who could tell a good story utilized that technique, but apparently, it makes them less authentic and believable. He also indicated it dilutes our language when we exaggerate making awesome an everyday word rather than saving it for that which is truly awesome. Guilty as charged. I use awesome all the time. Darn it, another habit to break. He also defines authenticity as standing in your truth…beautiful!