Friday, May 11, 2012

The Power of Words

This week's blog column is dedicated to two great people in my life: (1) A dear friend, who overheard a mean comment from someone criticizing her outfit while we were at an event (so uncalled for). And (2) My dad for preparing me for life and the foolery that occurs within it. 

This week, I received an email I was not supposed to see. The words that were written about me were hurtful and very mean-spirited. Now I am a realist and know that somewhere, someone is talking about me. That is life. There will always be someone who has something to say about someone else. This I get. However, at this particular moment, I recalled something my dad told me when I was a kid:
“It’s better not to know every single thing that is being said about you or in general. Sometimes it’s better to just be oblivious to some things and live life as best as you can.”
I didn’t understand that back then when I was a kid but I do now. A part of me wishes I did not see that email. That I did not know how this person felt about me.

I don’t think people realize the severity of words and the effect that a person can have on another with those words. We are all guilty of saying something in haste, in the heat of the moment or without thought. Once that word leaves your mouth, there’s no taking it back. You have to deal with the consequences of the words you have said.

Words can feel like a sword being wielded around, inflicting the victim with deep wounds. Words can incite and divide as we have seen in this world where judgments are handed out on a daily basis. Words can also calm and inspire. Words can create change, good and bad.  I cannot tell you how many times I have been in a group setting and someone will say the word FAT in a derogatory manner. I’m right THERE and it’s as if they have no regard for me.

Yeah, I know what some will say. “Well, it’s my life and I can say anything I want to say.” While that is true, I would like to counter that and ask, what happened to being considerate of others? What happened to having tact and respect for not only others but yourself? The words that come out of your mouth show your character.  If you continue to use words in a negative fashion, it really is showing who you are as a person. The words you express are your messages to the world. And if you want the world to see you as someone who is critical, belittles and insults others, then that is your choice. But honestly, that doesn’t sound like too much fun to me. But to each his/her own…

As a plus size woman, I live in a world where I am judged on a daily basis so I am not trying to add to that mix. I just want to be the best person I can be and live out my days in the most fabulous way possible. You only get one life! As a friend said to me today, this ain’t no dress rehearsal; you only get one shot at this life.

As Robert Frost once said, “In three words, I can sum up everything I've learned about life: it goes on.” Words may hold power but we determine how powerful they are by how we let those words affect us. Life is still going to go on. But it is up to YOU on how you continue on. Will you let someone else’s words define you and give those words great power? Or will you strip those words of their power and just be you? I’m going to choose the latter. Because the author of that email is not worth me giving her words power over how I feel. I choose to not waste a single moment by feeling sad or angry.

My dad, the great man he was, he was someone who knew how to use his words wisely. He always told me how some things are better left unsaid. And he always told me that when someone says something insulting to you or speaks ill of you behind your back, before you get upset or angry, look at the source. And if that person is not on your level or up to par in general, they are not worth your tears, your anger or even a rebuttal.

The best thing you can give that person in return is silence. Just as words have power, so does silence. Words may sting but silence will haunt a person. It will drive them crazy because they don’t know how you feel or how you will respond to their words. I know that some of us have to get the last word or will continue to argue until we are blue in the face. It takes a person with dignity to walk away, because when you think about it, that other person is just not worth it.

Words are just that…words. The opinions of others don’t define you. YOU define you. And at the end of the day, your opinion of yourself is what matters. And I happen to think I am a pretty awesome person. So I deleted that email and despite her apologizing once she learned that I saw that email, I did not respond and don’t intend to. Some things are better left unsaid and her words hold no power over me. 

Instead, I'm going to keep it moving and live my life by something else my dad always told me:
"A kind word can go a long way."

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