What we say reveals who we are.
Cats, children, peanut butter fudge, coffee… These are just some of the billions of things that fascinate me. There’s something else you can add to the list. Something I spend at least 8 hours each day surrounding myself with – sorting them out, putting them under the microscope to determine if they’re suitable for the job or not, toying with them, and so on.
Words, glorious words.
For as long as I can remember, I’ve been at their mercy. The six year old that read the back of her colorful cereal box as she ate a bowl of its sweet contents can still be found reading the back of her colorful cereal box as she eats its healthy contents. The girl’s quite a bit older and a little bit taller, the cereal is (usually) healthier, but the love of reading is still very much in place.
I love the spoken word every bit as much as the written word. As you know, I collect quotes as though my very life depends upon it. I don’t just jot down quotes as I read, I jot down quotes from tv shows, movies, speeches, and (often) even casual conversations – I just wait until the conversation’s over! One of my favorite quotes is actually from my daughter Emily. Years ago, she and her sisters were riding their bikes and Emily wrecked, breaking her collar bone. About a week passed and the sleepless nights, frustrating sling, limited freedom, and pain were taking its toll. We were talking about the whole shebang and she sighed and said, “What doesn’t kill you makes for a great story.” She then pointed out that one day it’d make a great story.
For some reason, for such a small girl – in so much discomfort – to put her thoughts together in such a way, and give them a positive spin, no less, made me smile. It still does.
I don’t quite remember what I had said or done at the time, but I remember my husband once laughing and saying that he wished he could see inside my head. Fortunately, for him (I just don’t think he’s ready for that), that’s not quite possible. However, there IS a can’t miss way to tell a lot about what goes on inside someone else’s head: Just listen to their words.
Mothers who are particularly close to their children can often tell what’s going on inside their child’s mind by paying close attention to their words. Many times they make what they think is a grand announcement, when we’d been expecting it for months. They’ll look at us and say, “Well, aren’t you surprised?” while we think, “Surprised? I’ve been reading this between your words for 5 months, what took YOU so long to figure it out?!?!”
We’re all more transparent than we’d like to believe. We give more of ourselves away with our words than we realize. In fact, if we truly realized the extent to which we expose our minds each time we open our mouths, we wouldn’t just think twice before speaking – we’d think over our words about 10 times apiece.
This truth can actually help us along our self help and self improvement journey. If you’re like me and like to jot everything down, grab a pen and paper. If you’re like my husband and like to bounce everything off the insides of your head, just keep your mind handy. Now think about the past week. Write down (or visualize) your top 5 topics of conversation…. the things you frequently talked over with your family, friends, and co-workers. If this top 5 is in line with what you’re trying to accomplish in life, then your head is in the game. If the thoughts and topics of conversation are productive and constructive – you’re in it to win it!
However, if the most frequent topics of conversation are destructive, negative, or of a gossiping nature, you aren’t doing yourself or anyone else for that matter any good. Remember, our words only show what’s going on inside of our minds. If what’s spilling out of our mouth is negative, berating, sarcastic, or gossipy, that doesn’t say much for our think tank does it? Where’s that stinking thinking going to get us? Answer: Nowhere worth going.
Spend a little time thinking about… well… spend a little time thinking about what you’re thinking about. It’s coming out in your conversation. If you don’t like what you hear, tinker with your thoughts.
We can also flip this exercise around to help us understand the people around us a little better. What are their frequent topics of conversation? If someone you love frequently talks about wanting to lose weight – you can rest assured that it’s weighing heavily on their minds. Be the sort of “hero” to them you’d want someone to be for you – go walking with them, encourage them, take them to healthy restaurants and share healthy food and recipes with them.
Many times when someone talks about a subject frequently, it’s a cry for help – whether they even realize it or not.
Finally, be very careful when judging someone by their words. For example, if someone comes across as mean and hateful – many times it’s simply an indication that they are hurting inside. Different people handle pain and stress differently. Some get sad and mope around while others verbally abuse anything and everything within earshot. They sort of “take out” their stress on others like 6 year old kids having temper tantrums.
Whenever possible, try to get to the root of the problem and find out WHY their words are so angry. Don’t get caught up in the theatrics as much as you do the meaning behind the whole production.
Always remember to pay close attention to your words – they reveal more about you than you realize.
What we say reveals who we are.