Rich Minds, Rich Rewards E-Newsletter
February 4, 2004
Week 5: Are Your Words Helping You or Hurting You?
By Valorie Burton
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This week's topic:
Are Your Words Helping You or Hurting You?
I hope you took my "seven-day challenge" over the last week. What small, meaningful change did you make over the last seven days? I'd love to hear your success stories! Thank to all of you who let me know what kind of change you were going to make - from brown bagging your lunch to refusing to argue with your teenager, you had a wide range of inspiring changes lined up for the last week. I'm thrilled that you took action! And if you didn't, it's not too late.
This week, I want to share a column I wrote in 2003 about the power of your words. This week, notice how you speak to yourself and to others, and answer this key question:
ARE YOUR WORDS HELPING YOU OR HURTING YOU?
Words can heal relationships, change attitudes, communicate ideas and serve as a conduit for peace. There are so many good possibilities for the words we use, but there are just as many negative possibilities. Words can tear down in a few moments what has taken years to build.
Although you may not notice that your words do anything negative in the world around you, I challenge you to consider ways that you can do more good in the world through the power of your words. Consider these questions as you seek to do just that:
1. DO I OFTEN FIND MYSELF WISHING I COULD TAKE BACK SOMETHING I HAVE SAID OR WRITTEN? The blessing and curse of words is the same: They cannot be easily undone. That is why it is critical to choose your words carefully. Whether it is the words you use to communicate with your children or handle a conflict in your work environment, once you say something, it is said. Once your fire off that scathing email, it's a permanent record. You can do damage or good in a matter of seconds. Make sure your words do the latter.
2. WHEN I HEAR GOSSIP, DO I GIVE IN TO THE URGE TO ENCOURAGE MORE GOSSIP OR DO I CHNAGE THE FLOW OF THE CONVERSATION TO SOMETHING MORE POSITIVE? I know, I know. Some gossip is terribly tempting, but make a decision to steer clear of all of it. When you embrace all that is possible for your life, you become much less concerned with negative conversation. Be vigilant about any negative words you allow into your environment.
3. DO I WAIT UNTIL I AM ANGRY OR FRUSTRATED TO GIVE PEOPLE MY OPINION ABOUT THEIR BEHAVIOR OR DO I TAKE TIME TO CALM DOWN BEFORE SPEAKING ABOUT AN EMOTIONALLY-CHARGED TOPIC? Nine times out of ten, waiting to respond to a situation that has you emotionally charged will garner a much calmer and wiser response. Wait a set period of time (it could be ten minutes, 24 hours or more) before addressing someone about an issue if you think you may say something too harshly or that you may later regret. Your communication will be clearer and more effective when you have time to take the emotion about of your response and think about the words you want to use.
4. WHEN I AM FEELING DOWN ABOUT MY CIRCUMSTANCES, DO I SPEAK NEGATIVELY ABOUT MYSELF? The power of your words not only affects others, but perhaps most significantly, they affect you. Become aware of what you say about yourself to yourself.. Do you beat yourself up for making a mistake? Do you tell yourself or others that you aren't smart enough, experienced enough, talented enough, attractive enough or good enough to succeed in your endeavors? Even if you feel like it's true, tell yourself the opposite. "I have everything I need to accomplish my dream. I am a good person. I am getting better day by day. My circumstances, whether positive or negative, do not define who I am." Use your words to enhance, enrich and empower your life rather than allowing them to tear you down.
5. DO I FEEL THE NEED TO ALWAYS VOICE MY OPINION? Some of the wisest people in the world speak the least. They are secure in who they are and don't feel the need to prove their worthiness by expressing their opinion and knowledge at every given opportunity. Instead, they listen without judgment. Through their listening, they learn and gain wisdom. Practice being quiet, even when you feel the urge to let everyone hear your opinion. Of course, there are times when expressing your opinion is critical. Learn to discern the difference between speaking out of insecurity or a need for attention, and speaking out of authenticity and mutual benefit.
Until next time ...
Valorie Burton, a life coach and professional speaker, is author of Rich Minds, Rich Rewards: 52 Ways to Enhance, Enrich and Empower Your Life (Villard, $14.95). Enjoy a FREE subscription to her e-newsletter and shop for her books and tapes online at www.ValorieBurton.com.
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