An Onslaught of Words

Never before in history have we had so many words in front of us all day long. Watch any historical TV series such as Downton Abbey to appreciate the anticipation and excitement of receiving a handwritten letter. In between those letters, there were only books and newspapers, but absolutely nothing trending now

Now, between social media, YouTube, television, radio, emails, and texting, our world has become a tsunami of talking. It’s enticing but exhausting at the same time.

We endure a relentless stream of consciousness from friends, family, distant acquaintances, and total strangers. This includes almost everything, even what is controversial and triggering—in our faces from sunrise to sunset.

Our world has become a tsunami of talking.

While there’s much to “like” and “love” about the accessibility of real-time communicating across the globe, witness (or, heaven forbid, participate in) any “comments battleground” and it becomes clear that this convenience comes at a cost, because all too often we wield words without compassion and even seemingly without consciousness at times. This can lead to hurt feelings and destroyed relationships. And, moreover, we often are accidentally creating the wrong reality for ourselves and others.

The pen is mightier than the sword.

—Edward Bulwer-Lytton

Are we having a communication crisis?

Have we forgotten the power of words and how they can be a gift to others and ourselves, and, even better, effective instruments for healing? 

But also that they can inflict wounds that could have been spared?

We seem to have lost the understanding of and respect for what words can offer us: the ability to share love, compassion, forgiveness, and meaningful information. AND… they offer us connection! And, wow, don’t we need that more than ever?

There is no finger-pointing here; we are ALL in this together. I believe most people are generally full of goodness and don’t want to hurt others, but something about the very nature of social media seems to bring out the worst in us. I can’t explain why—maybe because we can’t meet each other’s eyes and reflect facial expressions to each other—but it just seems to be an unwanted side-effect, just like the fact that we actually feel more isolated instead of connected when engaged in social media, when we would have expected the opposite!

Words as Reality-Shapers

Words are, in my not-so-humble opinion, our most inexhaustible source of magic. Capable of both inflicting injury, and remedying it.

—JK Rowling

The good news is that with conscious engagement in words, we can transform our realities.

We literally shape who we are with our word choices.

We draw specific people to us and might even repel others through our word choices.

Words are powerful. Words matter. We need to use our words with compassion, kindness, and integrity. 

Make an art out of conscious communication.

So, why not make an art out of conscious communication? I invite us all to add it as a new “value,” something to coincide with leadership or excellence. Take the time to cultivate and refine it.

Just as I have done numerous times over the past few years, especially on social media, I invite you to examine your relationship to words, and, if needed, refine your communications as follows:

  1. Be clear, not confused, before responding. Many misunderstandings occur from simply not listening. As Stephen Covey states, “Seek first to understand, then to be understood.” You might even want to reread what you’re responding to or check in during the conversation to clarify what you heard.
  2. Be respectful, not demeaning. Respect has nothing to do with whether you agree or disagree, but rather how to remain in integrity with your words. Respect is a mindset that doesn’t change based on the situation. In the book, The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz, the first agreement is “Be impeccable with your word.” Imagine being the recipient of the words you write or speak to someone else. Consider how your words might be interpreted. In other words, do unto others as you would have them do unto you.
  3. Be calm, not reactive. Instead of reacting with an emotionally charged response quickly on social media and other forums, take some time to reflect calmly. Take a few conscious breaths or step away from the conversation if you feel triggered. You can come back to it later! Giving yourself space to settle will definitely be reflected in your word choices.

Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.

—Dr. Stephan R. Covey

Using Words to Heal 

Daily positive “I am” (you can substitute “am” with action verbs) statements to heal our bodies, minds, and spirits are known as daily positive affirmations and gained popularity over the past few decades in large part due to the success Louise Hay had with herself and her clients in healing various illnesses. 

Some examples include the following:

I am healthy.

I flow through my life with peace.

I am resilient. I can handle the challenges in my life.

This can be a powerful tool in transforming your life, and if you practice it, you will also be more likely to lift others up too. I use this in my life and also in my coaching practice regularly!

Use affirmations to improve how you communicate.

You can even use affirmations to improve how you use words! Think of the possibilities of a deeper connection with your most cherished relationships and how that could transform your life… ALL WITH WORDS! 

Some examples include the following:

I am conscious of the words I choose.

I elevate and inspire others with my words.

I am mindful of how my words affect others.

I share love, compassion, and non-judgement when I speak.

To summarize, we can use words as tools for peace, enlightenment, healing, entertainment, and connection—without sacrificing our integrity as decent humans. In fact, I hope you received some of that from my conscious communication here. 

Let’s lead by example and be lighthouses in our world with our words! 

Written by Jill Rathburn, registered nurse, certified professional coach, bioenergetic health practitioner, and holistic health practitioner.