Choose Your Words Carefully

Barbara A. Bernard

Barbara A. Bernard

Several years ago, both of my parents were terminally diagnosed within four days’ time. Shortly after that happened, I ran into a friend who asked how I was doing. I responded with “My life is hell.” Hearing myself say those words was like a lightning strike to my body. With those words, I violated everything I believe in, because I know how language shapes attitudes and behavior. My words were giving voice to my fears, and I recognized that those thoughts would direct my actions. If I spoke angrily, I would think angrily and act angrily.

Time was critical. One parent was in a hospital bed, the other in a wheelchair. It was up to me to seize the moments we had and make the most of them.  I needed to change my language.  By choosing to speak from love and compassion, my word choice would shape my thoughts and direct my actions in caring for the loved ones who were waiting for me. The immediacy of this situation taught me that in each moment of every day, I make impactful choices with my words. I learned that words matter.

ripples3As I’ve explored what it means to live in discovery, I’ve begun to understand that in the majority of life situations, I can pause to give myself time to think. Taking a moment to breathe, reflect, and edit my words are powerful steps in creating my reality and seeing possibility. What’s become clear is that my words reflect my beliefs in the present moment.  Fearful, angry, judgmental language limits the possibilities I might see or consider. I can make the choice instead to use words that express compassion and creativity with full awareness of the multitude of possibilities in life.

What I learned as I cared for my parents was that I author my life with the words I choose in my mind and express with my voice.  The thoughts I allow myself to think and the words I speak are part of my life signature as I create my legacy.