It’s amazing how powerful our words can be. A few years ago I read the book The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love That Lasts by Gary D Chapman . In the book Chapman suggests that everyone has a particular love language, a specific way in which they feel love. My love language, it turns out, is words of affirmation. I have always been sensitive to what people say. I can still remember specific things that people said to me as a child. They stick with me and in some cases really define me. I remember my parents always complimenting my older sister on her grades, her intellect, and her organizational skills. They would say things like I was the funny one, the musically talented one and definitely ”not so organized” one. It’s not that they didn’t think I was smart or that my sister wasn’t funny, it’s just that those characteristics stood out and were talked about. By hearing those words over and over, I came to the conclusion that I was not smart, I was a goofball, a “ham”, and a slob. I truly believed that. Now, that is NOT what they said and definitely not what they wanted me to believe. However, I actually played that part throughout my adolescence because I thought that was my role in the family. I know now that is not what the intent was and they never meant those words to make me feel bad but it’s an example of how words can impact a person without us even knowing it.
I can remember specific put downs by friends. I remember them so vividly I can tell you what the room looked like, how it smelled and what temperature it was outside when they said them. I would believe things people said to me as if it were gospel. My sister used to say I was a marketing team’s dream because if your commercial was even half way good, I was buying whatever you were selling. Yes….I purchased Nads, Bumpits, TaeBo and countless other goods sold late at night on t.v. But just as words affect me negatively, a good compliment can keep me going for days. It is a natural high for me. Saying something nice to me can instantly turn you into my best friend. 🙂
I’m not saying it’s good to let words have that kind of effect on you, but for me they do. It’s one of the reason I drank. I would drink in anticipation of what you might say to me. I would ponder why you said that to me. The little voice in my head would say, “What did she mean by that? I wonder how long she has been thinking that. Who else thinks that”? Sick! I know. 🙂 But wine or vodka could quiet that bitch right down.
The connection to what you say to me and how I feel about myself is enormous. Now, try living with me. My poor husband comes home after a long day at work. I have cleaned the house, folded the laundry and made his favorite dinner. He puts his briefcase down and sits at the table. He takes one bite and starts to chew his food. “How is it”? I ask.
“Great,” he says.
“Well, you didn’t say anything about how nice the house looks?” I reply.
“It looks good,” he says.
“Also, I folded every piece of laundry we own today. How about that”?
You now understand why he is a recovering alcoholic as well. Not really. He was screwed up way before I ever met him. 🙂
In all seriousness it is hard for me to hear words, speak words, or read words without them having a major impact on me. Sobriety intensifies that. So now I have to surround myself with words that inspire me. I hang around people (like you) who have great words of wisdom to share. I go to meetings and hear people speak of recovery. I read self help books. I write. I have great phone conversations with my Mom, my sister and my friends. I listen to my kids talk about what happened at school. I surround myself with powerful words!
I am a lover of inspirational quotes and sayings. Some people collect teapots, or baseball cards but I like to collect words! I find them, write them down and read them over and over.
Words can change the way we look at the world or even the task at hand. Some words I am loving lately….
“It’s impossible,” said pride.
“It’s risky,” said experience.
“It’s pointless,” said reason.
“Give it a try,” whispered the heart.