Words Can Harm. Words Can Heal. [Part 2]
If Words Can Harm, then Words Can Heal
This is Part 2 of a 7 part series entitled “Words Can Harm. Words Can Heal.”
Like the remedy for an untruth [words can't hurt me] is the truth [words can hurt me], the remedy for harmful words is healing words.
The conundrum facing this proposition is the audience to whom this is directed. If you’re here reading this then maybe you googled on some phrase and here you are – already knowing how words hurt. Yet how many times have you said to yourself, “Self. You shouldn’t be upset over what she just said. She was only trying to be helpful.” Well, maybe she was. But you’re hurt for a reason. Maybe she just gossiped to you or divulged a rumor she “heard” or maybe her response was sarcastic in the delivery. No matter the why, you know it hurts. As long as we can acknowledge our truth we have made progress.
Isn’t it funny how we never seem to question why it made us feel good that someone used loving language with us? I bet some of your closest relationships are with people who speak lovingly and kind with you. I bet these close relationships don’t have too much sarcasm or name-callings in them do they? I bet you feel respected and honored by those people in your life and have you ever wondered that it might have something to do with how they speak to you?
We’re all human and we all goof from time to time but I believe it goes so much deeper than just the occasional goof. That it’s a way of life for a lot of people – that we’ve been indoctrinated at such a young age that we believe we should always laugh when we’re the butt of a joke, that we answer like with like, that sarcasm should be funny and that if someone calls us a name we have to defend why they are an even *worse* name! I’m thinking that maybe we could benefit from a blank slate. How about you?
Four Agreements Refresher
Read up on it here: http://livingsamsara.com/the-four-agreements/
After we acknowledge that words can hurt, it seems to not be so difficult to know that words can also heal. With this new call to mindfulness I hope to always keep in my mind the First of the Four Agreements: To be impeccable with my word. When I am impeccable with my word I will not gossip about other people. I will only use my words in the direction of truth and love. I will not name call and I will not degrade another person with my tongue or use sarcasm on another person. But because I am human I may fail at this ideal which is how the Fourth Agreement, to always do my best, will allow me to acknowledge my mistake and clean it up.
Agreement #2, don’t take anything personally, would have my ideal as not taking personally your harmful words. Not taking something personally doesn’t, for me, mean it will not hurt. It just means my sense of self won’t be affected; that my self-esteem isn’t wrapped up in what you just said to me. This doesn’t preclude hurt feelings however. (Since when have we equated being hurt with taking it personally – or is that just me?) My own cat scratched the crap out of me – ON PURPOSE before – but I didn’t take it personally. She was in a mood and she forgot who I was for a second and she hurt me! I didn’t take it personally but I still felt the pain so there’s how I can be okay with feeling hurt even if not wrapping my self-esteem around a person’s harmful words. Yes, Virginia, even if self-esteem is fine, you can still have emotions.
But, if that’s an inaccurate interpretation I must not be there yet as this would mean that I’d have to keep abusive people in my life as I pretended to not feel hurt because I have turned pro at not taking it personally. So… I have to believe that taking something personally isn’t the same as feeling hurt. And even if I were there; not taking it personally and not feeling hurt, it would still hurt that someone would, with intent, try to break agreement #1 on me. Agreement #3, make no assumptions, saves me from assuming you have intended to break #1 on me. So I have the courage to ask for clarity: “Did you intend to convey…?” If the person agrees they intended to say what they did that was so hurtful, I can be impeccable by practicing #1 and letting them know it hurt me and if appropriate, the why it hurt me, and what it meant to me when s/he said the thing s/he said.
If this person fails to want to clean it up or fails to “want to help me heal from the wounds of the words” I can go to another person and use my voice. I may not take it personally, what this person said, but it can hurt nevertheless. If I am in an abusive situation it would absolutely not be appropriate to begin “using my voice” with the person doing the abusing unless I am using it to save myself so please do not try practicing any of these self-healing or relationship-healing techniques on someone who is behaving abusively. If verbal abuse is a pattern in your relationship – intentional name calling, mean-spirited sarcasm, rage, and word violence, I would highly suggest you examine this relationship and its benefit to you. If you don’t feel physically threatened you may benefit from reading up on Codependency. [ This is a strictly for Codependency issues blog I started not so long ago.]
Abusive Words and Verbal Abuse
This is assumed throughout this entire series, that your house isn’t on fire. Reading this stuff and trying to apply it as your house burns down around you would be the equivalent of laying in your bed, coughing and choking from the fumes but reading a pamphlet on “Fire Hazards.” For God’s sake if you’ve gotten here by googling “my boyfriend is telling me he is going to kill me” call 9-1-1.
This series is for usually sane people who suffer from the same day to day mistakes that all humans do. This is not intended to cure verbal abuse at it’s finest height. Although name calling and labels can be quite abusive, as can sarcasm and gossip, which we’ll look at later in the series, threats of violence and death to your person do not need to be analyzed by psychologists, 12 Step Organizations or well-intentioned friends, especially me. They need to be dealt with swiftly and as efficiently as they can be by the authorities.
If you are indeed Codependent, you may think “If I just behave better” he’ll quit screaming at me and raging on me. Sweetheart, if someone is screaming and raging on you I promise that no matter how “bad” you think you are, it is not your fault. I also can promise that even that deep dark secret you have or that horrible thing you did once upon a time is not causing this. This is not your karma coming back at you and it is not God’s punishment. I promise. This person abusing you and wanting you to feel like shit is a sick person. A very sick person and none of it is your fault. You did not cause it and therefore you cannot cure it. If you *could* cure it, wouldn’t you have done so by now? Right. So when you’re convinced that this series is not going to help you *make him better* – or for you guys who are abused by the woman in your life, “her better” – you can still use these articles for yourself.
Remember: If Words can harm, then Words can heal.
Tomorrow, in Part 3 of the 7 part series, “Name Calling and Labels. ”
Look for it Saturday September 02, 2006.