Not only did I secretively shred zucchini into dishes I cooked for my husband and three sons I also tried to infuse wisdom into our dinner conversations. Our kitchen table overheard our most daring thoughts, our craziest dreams, and our silliest notions. Never judging or squashing even our most outlandish ideas, our words were free to run wild, creating some lively discussions.
I remember a specific dialog we had about how powerful our words were. I explained my philosophy that words attract like magnets. When we put out positive words to the universe, we get back positivity. When we put out negative words, we get back negativity. I could see the wheels churning in my sons’ precocious brains. They asked if throwing out words to the universe was like slinging cooked spaghetti at the refrigerator. “Exactly I said. Words stick, so choose them wisely.”
The next morning, I flew around the house cooking breakfast, packing lunches, and assembling backpacks, attempting to get everyone out the door on time. I yelled up the stairs, “Hurry, you are going to miss the bus!” My five-year-old son shrieked, “Mom why in the world would you put that out there?”
Not only did my sons understand the point I had tried to make the night before, they had already applied it. While I crawled through a pile of self-doubt, they harnessed the energy of words to create what they wanted. They recognized that thoughts and words set things in motion. Using their words as affirmations, they made the bus that morning and went on to accomplish things beyond their mother’s imagination because they believed they could.
I made a conscious choice not to hand down words that were limiting to my children, knowing that my words would become their inner voice. Words declare who we are and how we perceive the world to be. Depending on how we wield them, words can be used as fine instruments to build ourselves and others up or blunt weapons to tear us apart. Words can be as soothing as healing balm or as hurtful as a punch in the gut. Words can take our hand and lead us to sunny possibilities or drag us down dark alleys of fear. Words can be used as contemptuous modifiers, poisoning a room with hatred or upbeat adjectives that light it up with joy.
Words spill out and reveal generational beliefs and ignorance’s. Words can shame us into bottling up, hiding, and stuffing them way down deep until they boil over as a scalding silence or they can empower us, giving voice to what’s within and underneath, revealing our soul and inner wisdom. Loud, raucous words shouted, yelled and spat can rally and hoodwink the fools. Quiet, raw, authentic words spoken from the heart can be powerful, exposing century-old beliefs, demanding to be heard and acknowledged. Words can cut through layers of self-importance, and a lifetime of bourgeois privilege, inviting those who dare to enter a place that messes and disrupts their certainty and fractures their known world.
If you want to know someone, listen to their words. Do their words plant seeds of love and kindness or do their words shoot snarky bullets? It’s easy to spit out words of criticism, cynicism, and condemnation. It takes maturity, discipline and leadership to speak words that affirm, empower and inspire. Listen to your own words. Are they negative or positive? Your relationship with your words reveals much about yourself. If you dwell on what's negative about others and the world what does that say about you? Words help us self-examine the underlying reasons for our actions, thoughts, and feelings.
Savor your words before you share them. Consciously choosing our words is the quickest way to shift the energy of negativity into something positive and uplifting. There is a difference between positive thinking and positive focus. Positive thinking is allowing unleashed words to ruminate and ramble through our heads. The minute a negative thought comes in we chase it down the rabbit hole. A positive focus is knowing that negative thoughts will enter our minds, but we do not hold them in our minds, churning over them again and again. Instead we immediately change the imagery from negative to positive and let the thought go. When holding a positive focus, negativity does not stop us from obtaining our goal. Words are stepping stones to altering our beliefs and attitudes. If you want to change your life, change your words. Words have the power to change our families, our culture, our communities, and our future.
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