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The Gift of Language

“I will never do (X) ”

“I Can’t”

“I am always going to be this way”

“I will be this way forever”

“This is impossible”

If you have been following me for a while, you know that I discourage this type of language.

It is self-limiting at best, and self-destructing at worst. Some people recognize this and choose their words carefully. Others don’t. Or won’t.

Whether you are team optimist, team pessimist, or team “let me survive the day”, language can be a powerful weapon.

Language is “a systematic means of communicating feelings and ideas”. (Attribution: Merriam-Webster)

The functions of language include communication, the expression of identity, play, imaginative expression, and emotional release” (Attribution: Britannica)

By all accounts, language is the very foundation of the individual through to societal existence.

Language is an artform.  It can be a gift that we can freely give to those around us.

I have seen language used to bring people together, build people up, offer encouragement, and make someone feel less alone.

On the other hand, I have also seen language used to tear people down, belittle, and criticize.  In some cases, it is an overt attempt to cause harm. In other cases, the intention is less obvious.

Case and point, some use language to project their own feelings onto others. For example, someone who feels like their health condition is “hopeless”, might tell others that their situation is also “hopeless”.

With great effort, I will choose not to speculate or assume that I understand why someone might want to project their destructive thoughts onto others. However, at the risk of sounding insensitive, it is selfish. There is no excuse. An emotionally mature adult can recognize the harm this might cause to others and refrain.

Whether the intention is fully realized or not, this person’s goal is to bring others down. It is an attempt to coerce others into their tribe of misery. I have little tolerance for this type of covert “tearing down”.

Unfortunately, these people will continue to exist and they will continue to spew their venom onto others. My only hope for these unfortunate souls is that they can come to a place of peace and acceptance.

Now, I am not perfect. And I am sure I have unintentionally hurt others with my words. With that said, as fellow humans (who choose to live in community with others), we have a responsibility to recognize the error of our ways and correct course as quickly as possible. Ask for forgiveness when necessary and make a commitment to be better.

But there will always be those individuals who don’t want to change. They are miserable. And they want you to join them. You should resist this type of poison. You can fight back by denying their self-destructive expression of their inner brokenness.  You can choose the other path. The path that encourages and builds people up. Your effort will be rewarded with renewed hope. I have seen this first hand. I have experienced it.

Despite how dire your current circumstances might be, remember this……there is always hope. We would not know what contentment was if there were no discontentment. We would not know what prosperity was if we had not endured a season of misfortune.  You will see better days. Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but this season too shall pass.

Today and every day, look for an opportunity to give someone hope. Use the gift of language to bless and not curse.

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