We have all had to endure the unsolicited comments of friends that we walk away from wondering why the person felt the need to say what they did. “Running off at the mouth” is common, and many people in our lives feel the need to be heard regardless of how it is being received. These individuals speak mindlessly, without intention, which often leads to hurt feelings, overstepping boundaries, and broken relationships. While we can’t control other people’s words, we can control our own. Words are powerful and can either be received like daggers or a warm blanket. This makes it very important to pay attention to what comes out of our mouths at every moment of every day. It is not appropriate to say whatever we think, and it is also not okay to say something to someone without first considering why we are saying it.
â€œOf all the weapons of destruction that man could invent, the most terrible-and the most powerful-was the word. Daggers and spears left traces of blood; arrows could be seen at a distance. Poisons were detected in the end and avoided. But the word managed to destroy without leaving clues.â€ – Paulo Coelho
Everything we say has an intention behind it, and that intention is either conscience or unconscience. For example, you may tell your colleague that you like their new top with the intention of winning them over, or you may tell your ex about your hot date with the intention of making them jealous. When the intention behind our words is out of awareness we often say things that are unwarranted and uninvited.
Communicating in a healthy productive way is an essential skill in life, and particularly in relationships. Here are some simple steps to improving your use of words and how your communications are received.
Ask yourself what your intention is before saying something to others. This is impossible to do all the time, but if you practice this once a day you will likely avoid saying things that are not positive and helpful.
Begin to notice if you use words like weapons. Even if your intention is to hurt the other person, becoming aware of your need to do this will help you grow and find more mature ways of expressing yourself.
Work on becoming more aware of your feelings. Most hurtful words come from a place of hurt within the self. If you are angry and blurt out damaging words you are avoiding your own pain by punishing the other person.
Pause before speaking so you don’t regret what you say. Taking a moment to breathe will create a space where you might be able to say something helpful not hurtful. This potentially reflective space can change the course of a fight or conversation.
Recognize that your words leave a mark. You have the power to impact others with your words both negatively and positively. Knowing and remembering this will help you make the choice of how you want to affect the other person you are engaging with. Do you want to wound or heal?
Dr. Andra Brosh December 20th, 2012