Have you ever stopped and thought about the power words can have?
If you really think about it, wars are started and ended by words. Every major situation in our lives, in our world, has started and ended by words.
Shakespeare’s quote, “The pen is mightier than the sword,” is perhaps one of the truest statements of our time. Yet, we are careless with our words. When we hurt others, we simply say “they should be tougher,” or “should have known what we meant.”
We hurl words around without ever thinking of the impact they will have on others, and more often than not we are unwilling to pay the consequences.
I used to argue with my ex all the time about his words. He would get angry and say the meanest things. When I called him out, he would say he should have the right to say whatever he wanted. I always agreed with him.
You do have the right to say what you would like. You just may not enjoy the consequences.
A few weeks ago, I was preparing for a difficult conversation with my parents. I have a great relationship with them, and want to maintain it. Yet over the years, this closeness, the relationship we have, is because I never said anything about the hurtful things they said to me.
Please don’t think I never said hurtful things; I most definitely did. The difference is they would call me out on what I said, and force me to pay the consequences. I, on the other hand, pushed the pain down and went on.
Because of this unhealthy behavior, I realized I dreaded seeing them, having interactions with them, even texting them. I would always say too much, or the wrong thing because of the stress and pain I felt. And, needless to say, the conversations always ended with me being hurt.
This past year has been a true challenge for me. One filled with more hurt than I thought I could bear. I hit a place where I could no longer take any more hurt, so I withdrew. I stopped reaching out to people and focused on healing, becoming stronger, and establishing healthy boundaries. The journey has been so challenging, but more than worth it. I have been very careful where I spend my time and with whom, working to protect the peace I had finally found.
Needless to say, I have not seen my parents in quite some time. I love them and my time with them, but I was not ready for the series of questions I knew I would face. For once in my life, I didn’t want to talk about my pain. I wanted to focus on the healing I had done, and the progress I was making. The fact is I had found peace, contentment, and happiness. I dreaded the conversation. And to be fair, the negative energy I was filled with probably set the tone for the meeting.
As my kiddo and I attempted to navigate the conversation, my parents skipped the questions and went straight to the painful statements. To be honest, it was only two painful statements, but it was enough to make me lose my cool.
As a writer, I understand the power of words. I know words can build people up or cut them to the core. And at this moment of my life, I need lifting up. Yet, as I feared, the statements made me want to find a rock and hide. I was filled with instant guilt for things I had not done. I wanted to scream. I wanted to lash out. I wanted them to feel the pain I felt.
Thankfully, my daughter looked at me, through the pain and anger in her eyes, I understood the signal to take the higher road. Staring at the street, I allowed their words to pound me, slowly knocking the breath out of me, crumbling my peace, and threatening to make me cry. Not willing to let the tears fall, we left.
On the drive home, I struggled with humiliation. Why had I not stood up to my parents? What had I just taught my daughter? I was crushed by the idea that I taught my daughter to allow others, especially people she cares about, to tear her apart. I wanted to cry. But, at this point, what good were tears.
When we stopped to use the restroom, I reached out to a dear friend who has a similar relationship with her parents. She cheered me on. She gave me tips to handle future situations and she reminded me that I am amazing. As we sat down to lunch, I struggled to not wallow in my emotions. My daughter looked at me and told me I had done the right thing. She was proud of me. At that moment, I started to feel my heart start to come together.
The moral of the story is that as parents, we must remember our words hold the power to raise our children up or crush our children, no matter their age. We need to continually invest in our children, sing their praises, and tell them we are proud of them no matter their age. Every opportunity we have to lift others up, we need to take it. I promise you, a few positive words will make a massive difference in the lives of others.
Sara Orellana is a community volunteer, entrepreneur, author, amateur chef, and advocate for rescued animals. She may be reached by email at email@example.com.