Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Words

I love words. I love learning about where they come from and what they mean. I love how they meld together in beautiful, juicy images that stay with me. I love the shades of gray in the connotations. I taught high school English for a decade or so, and I'm a writer. Suffice it to say, I love words. 

Sometimes I screw up with my words, however. Sometimes I say things or write things that are hurtful.....unintentional, but hurtful nonetheless. I hate it when I do that. I want to take it all back immediately, pretending that it never existed. But, like toothpaste, once it's out, it's damn near impossible to put back in the tube. At that point, there's not much I can do except apologize and try not to do it again. But I'm human and sometimes I make mistakes.....more than once. At times like that I check my motives. Was it my intention to be hurtful? Was I trying to get in a good "dig?" That's rarely the case for me, because I'd hurt me before I'd hurt you, which may not be the healthiest thing, but, in the spirit of authenticity, it's the truth. Apparently, there are aspects of the people-pleaser still lurking within me. Regardless, it kills me when I hurt someone. 

I try not to repeat my hurtful actions, but every now and then, it happens. Maybe it's a different situation and, in my mind, that makes it okay. Or sometimes I repeat a faux pas because I'm menopausal/forgetful or stressed or distracted or not paying attention, and I beat myself up because I did it....again. Shit. It may take awhile for me to forgive myself in that case. Like I said, I'd rather hurt me than you, so when I hurt you, I take it out on me (clear as mud, and oh-so loving, right?).  But, since I'm not into beating myself up (like I used to, anyway, believe it or not) I do my level best to have integrity with my words.

But what happens when I'm on the receiving end of hurtful words? I have some choices (yay for choices!!). One is to remember that when people say hurtful or unkind things to me (intentionally) that they are coming from a place of hurt, pain or fear. It's more about them than it is about me. Sometimes they just don't think it through (thought-less)....all the way to the hurtful consequences. I can remember that words don't have power over me unless I give it to them. Saying I'm a chair, doesn't make me a chair. I can bless them and let it go. Or I could argue the point with them (hello.......definately not a chair here!), but I have to ask myself if I'd rather be right or happy (because in their mind, I am a chair, regardless of the eloquent arguments to the contrary). I almost invariably choose to be happy. 

Words have power (think Martin Luther King, Jr. and Adolf Hitler -- two of the most influential speakers of the Twentieth Century) and can be used for good or evil, love or hurt. Words are important, to be used thoughtfully and consciously (yes, you'll make mistakes...we all do). Use your words with love and integrity. But when they're directed at you? They may hurt, but you can take that power back. You know the truth. What other people say or think doesn't matter.

Have you had issues with words, yours or someone else's? What did you do about it?

Have you been there?

15 comments:

  1. I love words too, but very seldom share my love of words with others.
     
    Yea, I’ve had issues with words, whether my own or someone else’s.  When its mine, I clarify but always apologize for not “being clearer”. I always worry about offending people…
     
    However when its other people’s words, well, I’ve learn to just walk away. Quietly. At 50 years old, I am extremely choosey about what battles to engage.

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  2. Bob The Water CatMay 2, 2012 at 3:36 AM

    I forgive you, Claire. 

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  3. Thank you, Bob. Very kind of you!

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  4. I agree, Pamela! Picking battles is important and most stuff just isn't worth it.

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  5. Oh God ... what kind of a wavelength are we on?? A few weeks ago ... I wrote the meanest (I mean, REALLY SUPER MEAN) email to a former co-worker. (She got me fired). The thing is, I have this 24-hour rule ... where I was going to wait 24 hours and see if I still wanted to send it. But I guess the control key on my keyboard was stuck down. So I hit enter, and apparently control+enter=send. Can't tell you how much I beat myself up over that one before I decided to let go. They were really mean things I said. Like, if someone had said it to me? I would have cried and felt awful. (One lesson I learned is that I should not put the recipient's address into an email that I may not ever send...duh).

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  6. I wonder which is worse - hurting someone deliberately with words, or unintentionally by not understanding the meaning of them.
    And sometimes a word has a connotation to the receiver that the speaker/sender can't know about at all...

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  7. Yucko. I'm sorry. I hate it when crap like that happens. This too shall pass......

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  8. Exactly. 

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  9. I've definitely been there!  My mouth can overtake my mind in less than a milli-second....and there I am, thinking "Did that just come out of MY mouth???"  The best thing I can do at that point is apologize.  It's helpful if I can think on my feet fast enough to be able to say "Oh, I though you said "You are so nice" rather than "You are wrong, twice!" (or some other much better example that I can't think of fast enough to share here....see, that's why thinking fast on my feet is usually not an option.) So, I apologize and try to come up with a decent reason...like I think I have a hangnail.  Keeping my mouth closed while I actually consider what I'm going to say is by far the best approach. Unfortunately, my mouth has ideas of its own and my mind comes panting up just seconds too late.

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  10. Before I married my husband, I dated a guy that was absolutely proficient at verbal abuse.  Dude was a master, so I am well aware of the power words have, in both the positive, and the negative.  That said, it has made me more aware of what comes out of my mouth, at least until I've had a few drinks, and then God only knows what might fall out, LOL...but I am generally silly, so rarely is that a bad thing.  


    At any rate, yes..I've been there, Claire!

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  11. Been there, done that myself. Thank God my husband is nothing but positive and supportive. And so grateful I don't drink anymore.....I made LOTS of mistakes way back then, thanks to my liquid courage.

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  12. Yup....my mouth and brain aren't always in sync either.

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  13. Oh definitely. Being British I tend to do a lot of self-deprecation and teasing, it is a way of indicating you like somebody. (I think this comes under the generic heading of "British humour")However, sometimes I say something to a person who doesn't appreciate that I'm meaning it in a friendly way. Or on other occasions I say something without thinking it through...and it comes across as hurtful. 
    If I know I've caused offence then I'm usually good at apologising promptly: apologies are wonderful, wonderful things... 

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  14. Just clicked over from The Bloggess--here for the first time. This post was *EXACTLY* what I needed to see today and I'm so thankful I stumbled across it. I just got married in November and in the run up to the wedding my "mother-in-law to be" said some terribly hurtful things to us. I still feel raw about it 6 months later. We have to go visit them this weekend and I'm just dreading it. But, your reminder to remember that 1) I know I'm a good person with good intentions and 2) her words don't have power, will help me ride it out with grace...I hope. Thanks!

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  15. I'm so glad you found it! I'm sorry she's said hurtful things. Trust me, it's waaaaaay more about her than it is about you. 

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Yes! I've been there, Claire!