“Whatever words we utter should be chosen with care for people will hear them and be influenced by them for good or ill.” –Buddha
Do you realize how much power you possess every time you open your mouth? Or what about when you post something on Facebook or send out that email? Every communication we have with others carries with it the ability to bring a smile to someone’s face and potentially lift one’s spirit. Or, we simultaneously have the power to create fear, doubt, or even worse. While we usually can’t turn another person’s life around without their cooperation, we can, with the simple words we say or write, instantly shift the energy in a person or in a room. Let’s start remembering that the words we share with others are like a wand bestowing blessings or curses.
Okay I’ll admit it. I spend a lot of time on Facebook. As a writer, I work at home and am alone much of the day. While solitude is an important part of my ability to be productive, I sometimes feel isolated from others. Not so with Facebook. Facebook allows me to take a “water-cooler” break just like all of you who work for a company and can take a minute catching up with others any time you pause for refreshment. As long as I monitor my time on Facebook, it usually provides me with a nice break from my work without distracting me from what needs to be done.
But one thing I’ve noticed about Facebook is that not everyone realizes the power they have with every single post they make. In the last couple of years that I have regularly visiting Facebook, I have seen the good, the bad and the downright ugly. You see it all. Some people post cute things about their lives and their families in an upbeat and friendly way. Others people make it all about work and daily try to get you to buy or use their services. Some people and/or companies are doing good work in one field or another and post updates or news. Then there are those who seem to spout just about anything on their mind—unfortunately what is on their mind is anything but uplifting. While most posts are at least civil and reasonably polite, others routinely use degrading and negative language on a consistant basis.
For example, one young person in my extended family decided one day to post on Facebook that she was experiencing not her first, but her second, STD. (if you don’t know what an STD is—just know that it’s not good!) Not only did she post this extremely private information like it was no big deal, she also used colorful language to describe the other person involved. While I care for this person and wish her nothing but the best, my Facebook wall (the place a person places their messages) is much too important to allow negative information to grow there and fester. A long time motivational speaker named Zig Ziglar once stated, “You would never allow someone to walk into your living room and dump garbage there, so why would you let them post garbage on your Facebook page?” Okay, so Zig didn’t say it about Facebook, but you get the idea right?
The good news about Facebook is that you can immediately erase any negative message from your wall instantly. Even better, if any one person continues to post in a similar fashion you can block their posts so that their words never show up on your “wall” at all. Frankly, although I have a lot of Facebook friends, I’m somewhat picky about whose messages I read on a regular basis. Hopefully others discriminate as well.
Of course, I’m not immune to using colorful language myself upon occasion, but I never do it on Facebook! Besides that, I make an effort to remember the power of my words and who I’m with and where I’m at. Not only do I think it important to use words of encouragement rather than words of hate, fear and aggression, but I actually consider it my obligation. Once we start taking responsibility for our lives and the amazing power of our individual communication, then how can we do otherwise?
Besides that, we might as well face the fact that we are also judged by the words and messages we use on a regular basis. Yes, you heard me right. Don’t you already have some opinion about the person in my family who posted about an STD on Facebook? We are all judged—rightly or wrongly—by the words we use and the things we say. And if that’s true, wouldn’t you rather be judged as a person who went around spreading goodness and hope to others rather than a person who brought cringes to the face of your friends? Wouldn’t you rather be known as an unfailing optimist rather than a discouraging downer? Wouldn’t you like smiles to brighten when you walked into a room, rather than have people hide when they see you coming? Just like in life, if people start blocking your posts and avoiding you, chances are good that they don’t really want to hear what you have to say.
I read one time that Maya Angelo loves to entertain but that she has a very strict rule. If you use any foul language or overly negative talk around her, she will ask you to leave and you will never be given another invitiation. Maya said that her personal energy was too important to allow anyone—no matter who they were—to create negativity in her world with their words. Wow! Not only is that courageous—it is SMART too! That’s taking full responsibility for the words you say and the power they contain, as well as the words you hear. And maybe, just maybe, it is creating a world that is kinder and more loving and compassionate than before.
“We do not need to proselytise either by our speech or by our writing. We can only do so really with our lives.”–Mahatma Gandhi
“Whatever words we utter should be chosen with care for people will hear them and be influenced by them for good or ill.” —Buddha