Yes the title has something to do with the post. No it’s not a “choose your own adventure” post.
How We Communicate
When we communicate with other people there are really two areas, verbal and non-verbal. The verbal part is all about words (in case you weren’t sure ;-)) and non-verbal means body language, actions and the like. Today’s topic is words. Yay!
The Simplest and Hardest Thing
Speaking to another person is simple, we’ve been doing it for decades. Putting words together in sentences, attempting to express ourselves, making requests, offering assistance, ordering pizza, etc. Words are simple. Words are hard. I’m not sure how you were raised, but there is a lot in my background that was focused on negative words. In fact an article in WebMD.com notes that toddlers hear the word “No” 400 times per day! But let’s not focus on “no”, let’s broaden this out a bit.
The Words I Use
The words I use impact me. If I refer to a person or situation negatively, for example “I hate the commute to work” then I’m simply making it worse. Declaring hatred for anything makes the emotion even stronger. My words affect my attitude. But a simple change in words can make it better. Please read this next part carefully. Everything you experience goes through the filter of your mind. Your mind is the interpreter for whatever happens in your day. Most of what you encounter is not inherently good or bad…but the mind can make it one or the other.
I’m Talking To Me Here
Before we get all “positive mental attitude” here I want to make a statement. Most of us think that how we see the world is the only way it should be seen. Most of us think that how we see the world is the only way it should be seen. Click To Tweet In other words our way is the only right way. Now, there are certain absolutes. Good and evil do exist and no amount of interpretation will make one become the other. But the idea that I’m ALWAYS right and any other opinion is NEVER right is dangerously arrogant. This is an area where I have struggled many times.
Ok, back to the topic at hand. One aspect of maturity is the ability to stand back from our emotions and react rationally. If you are a Christian you recognize this as an act of the Holy Spirit in you. I don’t want the words that I say to come from feelings in the heat of the moment. I want the words that I say to come from the core of my value system. For that to happen I need to make sure of two things: I spend a lot of time working on my value system and I do everything I can to not let my emotions affect my words. Working on my value system means putting valuable and positive information into my mind. Reading the Bible, listening to great podcasts, going to growth focused events, learning from books deigned to foster those values and spending time with people who share those values. (For more on this check out the post What I Do).
Several years ago a group of us went through a Bible study from Andy Stanley titled Pause. The premise was that at every point of decision or action there is a moment when we have the opportunity to pause. When we pause we allow our value system to catch up and take control of our next words or actions (for Christians we again recognize the Holy Spirit here). It’s an extension of the adage, “Think before you speak.” We’ve all been there. In the middle of a highly charged emotional situation we are acting on our feelings it feels like another person is controlling our words and actions. Just before that was our “pause” moment. As we spend more time working on our value system we will be more aware of each “pause” moment…and more inclined to take that better path.
Bringing this Back To Marriage
The person with whom I spend the most time is the the person I could hurt the most. My actions and especially my words can make or break our relationship. If you’ve been reading this blog for long you know how I speak to my wife. You know I almost never use her name when speaking to her. I love her name and the sound of it. It’s a beautiful name. But much more often I refer to her as “my love”, “pretty girl” and sometimes, “my lovely bride”. There are several reasons for this but here is a big one for any marriage. Using terms of endearment will endear you to her. Your words matter to both of you. Using terms of endearment will endear you to her. Click To Tweet
The Wrap Up
There is one simple action step here. I follow it every day. Spend time putting more into your mind that supports your value system. Your words will change as your mind is changed.
A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.
Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.
Love you all!