Words have a powerful bite. They have the ability to heal or harm depending on how we wield them. Whether that was explicitly taught to us or not, we know in our hearts that’s true.
If we’re not mindful, frustration, pain, and fear can snake their way into the words we speak and write. Those fangs sink deep into anyone within striking distance. It’s easy to hide behind an “I was just speaking my truth. Stop being such a snowflake.” But that’s a cop-out from owning our behavior. Yes, we were speaking our truth which included the fact that truthfully-- we were hurting and those feelings colored our word choices.
I am all for being clear and direct. I am all for the type of raw honesty that can make us uncomfortable. But verbal abuse is not necessitated for that level of realness.
Studies show that when people are being yelled at or humiliated, the part of the brain that is generally used to learn valuable lessons is switched off because it’s too busy trying to protect itself from being attacked. So that language is not only harmful, it's useless too.
Humans have this incredible skill of connection through words. We can convey information, feelings, and ideas. And the receivers get to build on it all, responding accordingly. But cruel language severs that connection and creates distance. A big piece of our human evolution is expanding our vocabularies to be clear and respectful of our own and others’ feelings so that we can build the connections we're seeking for.
Making self-care a priority in our lives can help prevent us from being in the position of being cruel. But the truth is, we all get exhausted from time to time. We experience pain, grief, fear. We all have deep-seated triggers. And so it can happen that venom spews out from us. One of the most powerful potent antidotes we can administer after we strike is to apologize, acknowledge that we were hurting and restate what we actually meant to say. We all slip, but it’s whether we choose to keep falling or decide to get a grip and ascend again.
So here's to honest and loving language!
May the words we utter bite less and heal more!
If you or someone you know would like to learn and practice communication skills or explore various other modalities of self-care and relationship building, please reach out to me today!