Reflections on the Power of Words....
- 0Aug 24, '01 by Charles S. Smith, RN, MSI had a conversation the other night with a co-worker. I experienced our conversation as innocuous at the beginning, but soon realized that what my co-worker was doing was “fishing” for information. I wanted deeply to trust my co-worker, even though she is known for not being honest or trustworthy. I wanted somehow to have some evidence around whether I can be open with her. That was my first mistake; looking for evidence to confirm or disconfirm my beliefs. She asked me for an opinion and I gave my opinion. The opinion was about a third person. I knew in my heart that as soon as I rendered the opinion in language, that my words would reach the ears of the third person. That was my second mistake; making a seemingly harmless 4 word statement about another person that had as much energy in it as a nuclear explosion, especially as that energy was transmitted from person to person picking up speed and power. My four little words wounded a precious, fragile soul and I bear that responsibility fully and completely. Oh, my belief about my non-trustworthy co-worker was confirmed, but at such a cost; to my co-worker, to the third person and to me.
The cost to my co-worker is a view that she can only be as she is. I made a conscious judgment about her and allowed her no choice to behave in any other way than the way I judged her. My belief was confirmed based on the absence of any other alternatives. I believed that she was a victim, disingenuous, and insecure and she showed up that way. The cost to the third person was a deep wound in her heart and long, agonizing hours of painful internal dialogue. The cost to me is also a deep wound in my heart; a wound inflicted as a result of an indiscriminate conversation rooted in a belief that does not serve me, my two co-workers and the greater universe of which we are all apart. I believed I was right in my judgment. A truth, yes. But another, more powerful truth, is that I can choose a different belief about which to be right; one that serves, rather than wounds.
Language has real power and we all use that power indiscriminately. Language is tied intimately to our core belief systems. What we believe, we feel; what we feel is processed to our thoughts as we seek to interpret the meaning; what we think we convert to language or manifest the thought in some action or behavior, either consciously or unconsciously. We have choice around our language and behaviors, but the most important choice is the one around our beliefs. If our beliefs are aligned with who we really choose to be, our language and our behaviors will be congruent.
What would the universe be like had I chosen four different words, equally powerful, but in true service to my co-workers? I can not change that moment, so I can not divine how our little world might be different. I can, however, examine my beliefs and shift them in this moment, so the next four little words have the power to nourish, nurture and serve, rather than wound and destroy.
my best to all
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- 0Aug 24, '01 by cargalChas,
Having corresponded with you somewhat and reading your other posts, I cannot believe that your colleague will not see that you have made a mistake- you are human, and a kind , compassionate, caring and spiritual one. You may always carry some sadness at your blunder, but I feel confident that you and your colleague will be okay. Wounds heal if nursed. She will forgive you, and I hope and pray that you can forgive yourself. Pardon me for the obvious: To err is human, to forgive is divine.
- 0Aug 24, '01 by P_RN Senior ModeratorChas, have you gone to the "victim" and told her any of this?
She knows surely the reputation that the bearer of the statement.
The 4 words may have been wrong to say, but they were also wrong to be carried to others by the "fisherwoman."
Will you apologise without excuses to her? Asking forgiveness is one of the hardest things in life, but it is also the best solution to this.
- 0Aug 25, '01 by MollyJChas
It says something when those of us who have been around a long time can still get sucked down this same old drain every now and then, but I respect you a whole lot for thinking (and hurting) about the power of your words and I suspect that in the places you work, your words carry a lot of weight.
Show a little of that hurt/embarassment to the subject of your words. We all have thoughts about others that we wouldn't necessarily want them to be confronted with.
We've all....been there, done that.
- 0Aug 25, '01 by mcl4[QUOTE]Originally posted by Charles S. Smith, RN, MS
[B]I had a conversation the other night with a co-worker. I experienced our conversation as innocuous at the beginning, but soon realized that what my co-worker was doing was “fishing” for information. I wanted deeply to trust my co-worker, even though she is known for not being honest or trustworthy. I wanted somehow to have some evidence around whether I can be open with her. That was my first mistake; looking for evidence to confirm or disconfirm my beliefs. She asked me for an opinion and I gave my opinion. The opinion was about a third person. I knew in my heart that as soon as I rendered the opinion in language, that my words would reach the ears of the third person. That was my second mistake; making a seemingly harmless 4 word statement about another person that had as much energy in it as a nuclear explosion,
What was the four word statement?
- 0Aug 25, '01 by Charles S. Smith, RN, MSThanx to all who commented. Let me assure you that the issue was dealt with skillfully by all, handled and done with and no hard feelings. The reason to write about it is to have some catharsis, not absolution and to use it as a parable of sorts to inform others who might as MollyJ suggests "get sucked down the same drain". My words were powerful and I stuck by them, but realized that my truth is not the same as another person's truth. We all view things, events, people from our own unique personal lens of meaning. What comes out of our mouths is a result of the meaning we extract through that lens. Sometimes what comes out of our mouths is venom and it has energy to deeply affect someone else. Have the courage to examine your beliefs, your meanings and your lens from different perspectives. You may learn hard lessons, but you do end up a bit wiser in the end.
best to all
- 0Aug 25, '01 by donmurrayAnother vote for wildtime's comment, (even if the spelling is off) but having said that, I'm still not sure what it was that was being said in the first place. Not the four words, which are not germane to the discussion, but the post itself, and its intent. sadly, I am none the wiser.
- 0Aug 26, '01 by Jenny PDonmurray, wildtime does have some spelling problems at times; mostly at night or when he's thinking too fast for his fingers to type.
The problem that you're having is probably the difference between U.K. English and American English, there is quite a difference between the two.
Someone asked Charles his opinion of another person; and although Charles didn't trust that first person, he went ahead and gave a brief, honest answer to that person and that first person took his comments back to the person thay were talking about. Charles is just reminding us that what we say can harm others, and it's better to build someone up than to tear them down. Even if you don't like someone, there are good things that can be said about them if you stop and think about it for a while.
My Grandmother used to say that "if you can't say something nice about someone, don't say anything at all." Every time I forget this piece of advice, I end up regretting it.