Words

“Words are seeds that do more than blow around. They land in our hearts and not the ground. Be careful what you plant and careful what you say. You might have to eat what you planted one day.”
-Unknown

Several years ago I ran into a young man at a wedding that I used to work with, but hadn’t seen in a few years. I asked how and what he was doing and he explained, among other things, that he had moved out to the opposite coast and was now living in Oregon.
I was surprised for a number of reasons and when I asked him why the move, he told me it was because of something I said to him once, several years earlier, and he decided to take my advice.

At first I thought he had mistaken me for someone else because, A) no one really listens to me, and B) even if they did, they wouldn’t listen to me.

Curious, I asked what kind of advice I could have possibly given that would cause him to move three thousand miles away. He said I once told him that if he woke up one morning, put his feet on the ground and was not happy with where he was, he should have the courage to do whatever was necessary to make a change in his life.
He told that story to his wife about a year after they got married and soon after, they left their jobs and started a new life on a different coast.

Words.

They have such power over us. More than we care to admit to sometimes.

They can change a life, save a life or destroy a life. They are free, priceless and sometimes carry burdens that last a lifetime.

They leave scars.

They soften and harden hearts.

For all that we know about words and the kind of impact they have on each of us, we sometimes remain careless with them.

Especially with children.

Words can affect adults in many of the same ways they do children. They can make us feel incredibly special or drop us to our knees. The difference, I think, is that adults can sometimes rationalize or explain away the negative comments. They can bounce back by understanding the source or respond by standing up to those words. Children, especially younger children, don’t have those same abilities. Too often they believe what they hear and may internalize those feelings for years. Sometimes it begins to shape their lives.

Being a parent can be challenging at times. I don’t know a parent who doesn’t try to do the right thing when it comes to their children. Or at least believes they are.

You know, volume is a funny thing. There have been times when I’ve heard a band play a song live and the music is so loud, I couldn’t hear the words. Children are no different. Sometimes, when the volume is too high, they just hear the noise, which can be as damaging as the words they can’t hear.

Sometimes we think we’re disciplining our children when we’re only inflicting our control over them. There’s a big difference between the two, just as there is between encouragement and constant critiques. Parents sometimes attempt to live their own lives through their children, instead of allowing them to grow, make mistakes and find their own way through life.

All these actions involve words.

With children, words have a greater impact and last much longer. The control or influence we think we have as parents, only lasts a few years. Rebellion, much longer.
They will remember. And when they’re old enough, they will understand and make their own decisions and choices.

Then the impact of words may be reversed. Strange how that works.

You know, the funny thing is, I didn’t remember having that conversation with that young man I spoke with. Even after he told me about it and I tried to go back in my memory and remember when I may have said it, I couldn’t.

But he did. And that’s the point.

That’s the blessing and the curse about words.

You may not remember what was said today, especially when it comes to children.

But they will.

And one day, you may have to eat what you planted.

66 thoughts on “Words

  1. Kate Crimmins

    I love this post. Words are so important. As a person who worked in Human Resources for many years, delivering a message that wasn’t good was always tricky. It’s not about spin in a PR way. It is about valuing the person who will need to move on. Most changes are not a result of a person being wrong but being not good fit to make them happy. In your case he was living in the wrong place. Sometimes it’s working at the wrong job. The tricky part is making someone understand that they can find the fit. You did that and you didn’t even know it. Well done!

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
    1. George Post author

      Thank, Kate. Like you, I was involved in HR for many years and delivering the message, as you suggested, is always difficult. Delivering it with as much sensitivity as possible is always important.

      Liked by 1 person

      Reply
  2. Barb Knowles

    Sooooo true. Words matter.
    But on a lighter note, when I was in pre-op for my cataract surgery, and the nurse was going through their long list of required questions, she asked me if I had anything that comes out of my mouth. “Words” was my prompt reply.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
  3. vanbytheriver

    A perfect post and such an important observation. That “sticks and stones” was a lie. Words hurt, and as you found out, have so much power, even when we don’t remember what we said. Someone heard, and it made a difference. πŸ’˜ Thanks, George

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
  4. justdrivewillyou

    I know just what you mean. I wrote a post, “Those Words”, about something my father said to me as a child that had a huge negative impact. Parents need to always be mindful that kids take everything Mom and Dad tell them straight to their heart.

    Liked by 2 people

    Reply
  5. reocochran

    George, it is so nice to have something wise you said have had such a profound effect. πŸ™‚
    On the other hand, I cannot imagine going back carefully through my words and allowing some of the “wrong” ones to replay in my mind. This would be horrible!
    I hope overall, I am about 90% “good” or “helpful” in my use of words.

    Like

    Reply
    1. George Post author

      Thanks so much, Lisa. People think if they raise their voices, their message has a greater chance of being heard. I think sometimes, the opposite is true.

      Like

      Reply
  6. Ann Coleman

    You are so right about the power of words! And I love how your story illustrates that even the words we don’t remember saying can have a profound and lasting impact on someone’s life. As I have gotten older, I have learned to be much more careful of what I say. I only wish I had figured this out when I was younger, and when my own kids were younger too. Wisdom comes with age, I think.
    PS: I hope you know how often your words encourage others!

    Like

    Reply
    1. George Post author

      Thanks, Ann. I guess the fact that I didn’t remember something that had such an impact on someone surprised me the most.
      I think we’re all much wiser with age and I don’t believe you’ve scared anyone in your life😊
      Thank you, as always, for your kind words. But we’ve already established our MAS..:)

      Like

      Reply
  7. blondieaka

    Words it’s not the mouh they come out of but the mind they go into and I think that is true because what we say is not always how someone interprets it πŸ™‚ The most powerful medium on this earth is words πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
  8. Osyth

    I remember watching a girl from my class at Primary School. We would have been about 9 years old. She was not popular and the girls who were surrounded her taunting her with insults. As the tears streamed down her face she repeated under her breath, barely audibly, ‘sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me’ over and over again. Apart from deciding then and there that I would be her friend (and we became besties) I also understood horribly graphically that words DO hurt and I vowed to try and always be mindful of mine. Of course I’m not perfect and I count my failures over my successes but I do keep to the front of my mine that like thorns, words pierce the surface and are hard to remove without causing further pain.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
  9. sportsattitudes

    World events can turn on a dime with words. Individuals can experience the highest highs and the lowest lows with words. Words heal and they hurt. Indeed they may be one of the most stealth-like weapons human beings have at their disposal. We need words like yours once in awhile to make sure we don’t ever forget that.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
  10. candidkay

    I have always felt our children are here to mold us as much as we mold them. And if we listen more than we speak, we make the relationship richer. It takes a special kind of wisdom to know when to shut up, right? πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
  11. Pingback: Hello, I’m Alive! (and ten lessons learned) – Through Mirrored Lens

  12. Lekha murali

    That’s poetry wrapped in prose beautifully. Words do have power. After all, language is the thinking block of any human society.
    I also feel that sometimes people don’t exactly understand the meaning context of the word(s) being said and don’t bother to ask what that meant, which creates a lot of misunderstanding. This is in a monolingual society. Now imagine a multilingual society.
    This is why I’ve held a theory for a long time that many social problems can be sorted out, if we made an attempt at clarification.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s