“It’s not the events of our lives that shape us, but our beliefs as to what those events mean.” ~Tony Robbins
While sticks and stones can break my bones but not words, they will never harm me.
Wow. It takes me way back. It took me all the way to elementary school. This is where I tried to use it for a shield. Although it is a juvenile saying, I could find solace in the words for many years.
In the end, it doesn’t matter how old we get. It’s good to feel a part of something, to be understood, and to be accepted, and it hurts when we feel we’re not good enough to belong.
Whether it’s due to the words of a schoolyard bully (with a flat-chested joke), a passing remark from a stranger (“your arms are hairy”), or an observation by a loved one (“you’re too shy), we begin to transform into a guarded version of ourselves.
Our skin thickens daily with people, and allows for some words to flow off our backs. But those who stay are the ones that change our inner landscape.
Most of our physical pain is caused by an accident, adventure or mishap. They can be unpredictable and come from anywhere. They don’t feel personal.
However, words are always derived from people. They almost always feel intimate. A species that thrives in connection, acceptance, love and affection, words can be a key source of information about our tribal status.
We can define who we are, identify our friends, and make a statement with words. Words can reinforce who you are. Words are a source of inspiration. Words are our greatest resource. We feel loneliness, pain or betrayal through words. Words cut us down. Words make us smaller. Words can plant doubt seeds. Words deflate.
The power of words is in their ability to communicate. Use them with care.
It is how you say it that matters when it comes to communicating a message.
You can use words to express positive, neutral, and negative emotions. Think about how different results can be created by the same word.
This gets everyone excited when it is said at a surprise party. This is the invitation to be guest of honor!
When a child asks questions, she feels small and unimportant.
An adult may also suffer from this curse. Picture a man sitting in front of a television watching football. He calls his wife to tell him some exciting news. He shouts “quiet,” and just like that she feels diminished and robbed of joy.
The power of words is immense. However, the speaker may not have all of the power.
It can be difficult to receive a message when we feel powerless. Just as a spider’s web catches much more than dinner, our minds become cluttered with a lot of word debris. Over the years, I’ve spent my time unpacking my trauma and history. And, of course, comments, passing sentences, and direct attack are what bring out my worst parts.
So, here’s my question: Why do some things go in one ear and out the other, while others have a way of following us around? How is it that certain words can so profoundly impact us, that we lose our joy in dancing, singing and talking?
Here’s my revelation. People who know me will have heard it many times before: “What we do is what we are.” Believe matters.
My brain can take words and turn them into seeds. The words that stay put start to become messy and tangle my being.
After a lot (and I mean a lot) of soul searching, I have found my common denominator—two actually. My pain is either born out of the truth or my fear of the truth. My feelings of loss are what cause my pain.
Whew. That’s a bitter pill to swallow. None of us want to believe that we think we’re not smart, beautiful, fun, cool, lovable, or funny. But I’ll say it again. Most of the things that hurt me most are comments I think. Were true. These are the ones I fear. Might True. That’s it.
Sometimes it can be painful to confront our truth. Our truth can often be a part or a portion of ourselves that we don’t want to change. Whether it’s our laugh, our bodies, or our dreams, we are exposed.
How can we deal with it? The only thing we can—accept ourselves. Just. The. Way. We. Are.
This doesn’t mean we cannot continue to grow and evolve as humans. We are constantly being and evolving.
Many of us venture out into the unknown as ourselves, and we gradually withdraw from our inner selves as we become less comfortable being true to who we are. In order to protect ourselves from vulnerability, we turn into a diluted version of our vibrant selves.
But I’m here to challenge the idea that vulnerability has to be painful. It is not easy, though it can be uncomfortable. Our best defense Is knowing and embracing who we really are so that when someone questions our character or motive it is either true or not true—and if it isTrue, it’s okay to be happy with this.
If I find myself ruminating on a comment, it’s an opportunity, a chance for me to know myself better.
When a word hurts me, I try to approach it differently. Then I think: What’s the point of hurting? This is true? Can I change this? Does it make sense to me? If it is me, can I do more than accept it—can I LoveThis is me.
I used to think my problem was that I wasn’t enough ‘this’ or needed to be more of ‘that.’ I used to think that if I could just take the best parts of other people and become those things, I would feel secure, confident, and untouchable.
It was tiring and it would eventually lead me to my end. My life felt like a deck of cards. It was ready for collapse any minute. Fear is exhausting. I also began to feel like I couldn’t make any forward progress. It felt like I was treading water, when I could swim.
It wasn’t until I took a break and developed faith in myself that I found my full energy, optimism, and confidence return. It’s because we cannot be good at anything except ourselves. You can’t try anymore. All you need is to be. And the knowing that I don’t need to be all things. All I need to be is me. I don’t care what anyone else thinks.
What do you know? Some of the most bizarre things have happened. My strengths and joys have grown, as well as new possibilities. When I let go of mimicking others’ successes, I have found more of my own. The kind that I’m not afraid to lose. The kind that doesn’t make me feel like a fraud.
The fear and anxiety of sharing my voice is gone. Now, it’s a joy and a means to bring people together. This transformation feels miraculous. If you would’ve told me all this several years ago, I would never have believed that I could achieve this kind of peace and confidence. However, believing has become a habit of mine. This is why I recommend it.
Nithya is a Well-Being Strategist who helps female doctors increase their time and reduce stress and fatigue so that they can live fulfilling, vibrant lives both at work and home. Her passion is creating a life that supports you and helps you accomplish your to-do lists. Be productive while remaining present. www.nithyakaria.com
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