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The Power of Words

sf_wordsPreviously I wrote that words are powerful. After thinking about that statement, I would like to modify it. More accurately, words can be powerful. Words, in and of themselves, have no power. Just because words are spoken, doesn’t make them true. Speaking them louder doesn’t make them truer. Words can only have the power we grant them.

Currently words are being tossed around as weapons. Fortunately words cannot cause physical damage. Words cannot kill. However, they can be destructive to our mental, emotional, and social well being, if we choose to accept the words being tossed to us and give them the power they were intended to have. But, we can refuse to give credence to the words thrown at us. We can let them fall harmlessly around us. We possess the power to determine the effect of their impact. In turn, we choose whether to use words as weapons or as balm. Tremendous courage is required for the latter.

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Saying What’s on Your Mind

sf_showerMy older son has been after me to start a blog for a couple of years now. At first I resisted because frankly, I didn’t like the word blog. It sounds like something you do when you vomit. But then I googled (sounds like what might happen when someone tickles you too hard…oops, I googled!) it and discovered blog is simply short for web log. Now a log is an official record, typically associated with a voyage or travel. So the next issue was what to web log about. Anything, he told me, just write about whatever’s on your mind. And that got me thinking.

There seems to be an epidemic of people saying and writing what’s on their minds. And that is fine, so long as it is clear to them and their audience that that is all it is – what’s on their mind. That doesn’t make it true, right, or factual. It is what’s on their mind, which is the same thing as their opinion. Unfortunately, we become very attached to our opinions. So much so that we seek verification of our opinions by listening only to those who share our opinions and ignoring those who do not; only attending to information that supports our position and interpreting new information in a way that supports our existing beliefs or theories. This is called confirmation bias. Honestly, that’s a real thing. You can google it.

So here’s what’s on my mind – my opinion. Words are powerful. They can be constructive or destructive. In order to avoid the latter, they should be selected carefully and thoughtfully. That is why we have a brain – so we can think before we speak. A good test for deciding whether or not we should or should not say what we are about to say is to consider how we would feel if someone said it to us. I believe there would be much less talking and blogging, if this test were practiced more often. I’ve decided that the only place it is completely safe to say what’s on my mind is in the shower. Lately, I find myself taking them more often.