Monday, October 4, 2010

Mental Health Monday 10/4

The Power of Your Words

Yesterday in church we talked about how powerful our tongues are - and this is so true. In just a few words we have to power to bless or curse someone near us. Have you thought about that lately? Here are a few things we need to consider.

1) You have the choice to brighten or darken someones day. In a perfect world, we could say that we don't care what someone says about/to us but, the truth is, we do. We can put up a tough front but truthfully, we all care what others say and a few quick words can do a lifetime of damage. I still remember ugly things that were said to me almost 20 years ago.

2) Many people are already hanging on by a thread. Maybe their family life is unstable or something has happened in their professional life. We may think that snide comment isn't "that big of a deal" but to others it could very well be their breaking point - something I've seen and heard in clients of my own. "But Bethany, that lady in the grocery store was ugly to me first!" We have no idea what others are going through and we have to ability to steer them in a different direction when we do not continue the negativity.

3) Words are the starting point for so many things. You don't hear of too many fist fights starting from someone keeping their mouth shut, do you? Same goes for building someone's self confidence - it doesn't just happen on its own. Words can build up and words can tear down. We have to be mindful of what we say to others.

4) People are listening in. You have no idea who is around you in public when you are making some of these verbal exchanges. You and your spouse may be having a "small disagreement" in the middle of Lowes, exchanging ugly words or tones. While the two of you may have an understanding that this is just a small tiff, that child in the aisle over may hear this same argument 10 times a day from her own family and your example is not offering her any hope that things could get better.

So, what can we do? Here are a few suggestions:

1) Let the kind words flow. Compliment people - And I'm talking anyone. See that lady in the grocery store with the super cute shirt? Tell her you think it's cute. Small amounts of Oxytocin are released when we not only receive positive words, but also give them. And seriously, when have you ever regretted saying kind words to others? I know I haven't.  For those of us with children, this is also a learning lesson for them to see us being kind to others for no apparent reason other than to just be kind.

2) Keep your mouth shut. It may be a cliche but if you don't have anything nice to say then don't say anything at all. It is so easy to be ugly but when we control our tongue we control the situation. If you do not respond to that ugly comment made by a friend or family member then the conversation is over and YOU have stopped it. You can not control anything other people have to say but you can control how you respond and I promise your mental health will be better for it.

3) Use this advice on yourself. We can be our worst critics. I have often had some pretty ugly things to say about myself. Negativity, especially to yourself, can ruin your whole day. If you were trying to get the whole house clean but only made it through the kitchen then give yourself a big pat on the back for that! Shift your focus to the positive aspect of yourself and your situation and every one will benefit.

My current scripture of encouragement is this:

Ephesians 4:29 (Today's New International Version) "Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen."

I want to encourage each of you to say kind words to someone today - I promise you won't regret it.

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