Words Carry Enormous Weight

Who Wears Shoes TOO Big?

My daughter Kate wore shoes that were a size too big for many years after she became a teenager. I didn’t realize she was doing that. In fact, she was married before I found out. Her husband found out first and he called her on it.

“Why do you buy shoes that are a size too big”, he asked her. She replied that she had big feet and needed a bigger size. Well, eventually the whole story came out.

She doesn’t really have big feet. She wears the same size that I do, a respectable eight. But one day when she was a child her dad said something that impacted her for years.

We were hiking and she had climbed a tree. Kate was about eight or nine. She lifted her foot and set it on a branch. Her dad made what seemed like an innocent comment, “Hey Big Foot”. The rest is history. She computed that to mean that she had big feet.

I Believed I WAS Fat!

When I was about eight my grandma said something that impacted me for all of my childhood and many years into my adulthood. She owned a Sweet Shop in Afton, Wyoming. I loved going there and she would let me work the candy counter and bag popcorn.

We grandkids could have lots of nickel and penny candy but we were never allowed to have chocolate bars because they cost a quarter. One day, before I had all the unspoken rules down, I asked her if I could have a Twix bar. I had never had one and they seemed so wonderful up on the highest shelf. She said, “No, do you want to get fat.” Another pretty innocent comment but here is what I heard and believed for many years…”You are fat”.

The TRUTH is I Have Beautiful Eyes!!!

Not only did I begin believing I was fat, I believed that I must be really unattractive because I was fat. But when I was seventeen I was at the home of a woman who was doing some alterations on a dress for me. Her husband told me that I had the most beautiful brown eyes. I know that it seems incredible because I didn’t even know the man, but I believed him. I had beautiful eyes! Even now at 65, when I look into the mirror I think to myself, “Man, you have beautiful eyes.”

Pigs or Pigsty…That Was the Question

When I was a middle-aged mom, with six of my seven children, I came down the stairs one day to the sight of a totally cluttered living room. As I gazed out over the room and the many children playing there I said, “This room is a pigsty”. Many years later, when my oldest child was in her late thirties we were having a conversation about moms and how they should talk to their children. I made the comment that although I wasn’t perfect I at least never called anyone names. My daughter looked at me in astonishment and said, “yes you did”. I, equally astonished, asked her to tell me when. She replied, “Well, one day you came down the stairs and you said, “You are such pigs!”

Wow, talk about two different views of the same experience. We talked about it. What we both realized is that children hear what they hear and we just need to be careful what we say, because children don’t always hear the words…they hear the feeling.

It is not just children that hear a comment and then believe it. It isn’t just the young that are affected by what is said to them. Let me illustrate. I will have to tell on myself a bit, but for the sake of emphasis, I will do it. : )

The SATISFYING Laugh, Ahhh!

My youngest daughter is married to a really wonderful man. We like him a lot and frankly, he thinks we are great too. Recently I was talking to my daughter on the phone and she said something that made me laugh.

I have to stop here and say something about my laugh. It is distinctive and it can be loud. I have a witch laugh that is legendary and on Halloween I am called upon to do it a lot. Frequently, during the year, a grandchild will say, “Grandma do the witch laugh.” Now all of my laughter isn’t witchy but that just lets you know it is distinctive and sometimes loud. I have always been a bit self conscious about it.

Back to the phone conversation. I laughed and I heard my son in law say something in the back ground. “Mom, Brady said he likes your laugh.” That was such an odd comment that I asked her “Why?” She asked him and then came back on line and said, “He said it is satisfying.” Isn’t that the most amazing thing to have someone say?

Here is what has happened from that chance comment. Every time I laugh I think to myself, “That is so satisfying.” I am no longer self conscious, but pleased.

Our words can be very powerful for both good and bad. We need to be thoughtful in how we talk to our children and others, about their strengths and their weaknesses, because sometimes what we say can impact them for decades.

In all of our teaching and interactions with our children, we should be kind.

In all of our teaching and interactions with our children, we should be kind. Kind words not only lift our spirits in the moment they are given, but they can linger with us over the years. The same is true of the off hand or unkind chance remark. We would do well to ask ourselves questions such as these:  “Is what I am about to say going to uplift the hearer? Will it inspire, motivate, and create forward momentum for them? Will it dissolve fear and create safety and trust? Will I create a positive or negative ripple effect by speaking out these words?” Harness the Power of Words By Barbara White

What has been said that has lifted you, buoyed you up, helped you learn or made you feel good about yourself? I, for one, would like to know. I encourage you to leave a comment. : ) 

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4 Responses to “Words Carry Enormous Weight”

  1. Although I feel that I’m only slightly better than an average musician, I’ve had many people compliment me on my playing and tell me that I’m really good. I’ve come to realize that to the majority of non or beginner musicians I sound pretty good, but to those who truly are great musicians I’m slightly better than average. I’ve thought about this quite a bit because my goal is to truly become a great musician and so I work hard at it. (It’s a lot of work learning to play 6 instruments but I love it.) As the years go by I’ve realized that these compliments are real and that I am fairly good especially considering that I’m basically self taught, never had band, choir, or piano as a kid, and started later in life plus came from a family where there basically wasn’t any music. Despite these obstacles I’ve enjoyed the hard work and teaching myself. Even though I’m not what I’d consider to be a good musician, I’m doing fairly well and it makes me feel good to jump a plateau or when I have those special moments come that I’m able to keep up with those “hot pickers” in a jam.
    I do however relate to what you said here about sometimes seemingly innocent comments hurting us or others. Last September I was playing music in N Carolina in a jam setting. A good friend (who is a great musician) said to me that he could tell that I’d came up with my own break on a certain tune and that “if I’d go home and look up how others were doing it on YouTube it’d help me get it better”. That innocent comment struck me hard and ruined my entire week for jamming. I was timid, didn’t jam much and just kept thinking about what other tunes I would do that wouldn’t sound right. I found other things to do instead of jamming because I became self conscious. (On a positive note though I came home and did look it up.) What I found was that, mostly I was playing it similar to most people but there were a couple of areas that I could smooth out by doing some simple different things. So yes I’ve experienced first hand some of these same things you spoke about here. I’ve also come to accept that I am a fairly good musician and that most likely the people who I think are really good also view themselves as slightly better than average. It’s all relative to ourselves and there will always be someone who’s better and lots of others who think we are really good. A few years ago I taught myself piano, now I’m teaching myself honky tonk piano. I’ve never read music so I finally tackled teaching myself to read the right hand. Then my theory and ear training kicked in. I now fill in left hand notes within the chords and since I hear chord changes I’ve taught myself piano my own way. I’m proud to say that I played in the temple for 4 years, I played a Sacrament meeting in Mexico, and was called upon to play at the spur of the moment for a funeral. I also played as the RS pianist for 3 years and this calling came 3 weeks after I began teaching myself so I was very scared and green. Thinking about all this…
    my thoughts are….people who’ve given me that boost of complimenting me have helped with my confidence and helped me to say yes to such challenges. Words can make or break us. We should be careful to always help boost people up if we can. All of us are trying our best.

    1. Raynae, I remember when you began to learn to play the banjo. I thought you were very brave as we were both middle-aged with houses full of kids. The truth is you have become an amazing musician and I am always impressed. I am glad that for the most part comments have built you up because you have been able to teach so many children to play and that happened because you were able to keep going. : )

  2. When I was a little girl, my daddy told me that I was the ‘prettiest little girl in the whole wide world’, and gullible child that I was, I believed him. It didn’t make me conceited. I didn’t go around thinking about it all the time and admiring myself in the mirror, but it was always just in the back of my head. So, I never had to struggle with thinking that I was ugly! I had other struggles, but not that one! Someone could have tried to convince me that I was ugly and I wouldn’t have believed them.They would have been wasting their time. Because MY dad had already convinced me that I was pretty and I had no reason to NOT to believe him. His words went with me a long time. It took me about 35 years to discover that he was wrong, lol. Children believe something perpetually until something sideswipes them. But I remember looking in the mirror one day and thinking, ‘Daddy was wrong, I’m just…… kind of average. But how powerful his words were to stick with me all those years. I never even considered that he might be wrong. No doubt other kids have grown up with the opposite words. Someone, while they were very young, was told that they were ugly. And no matter how hard somebody else tried to tell them otherwise, they wouldn’t be convinced.
    So on the other end of the spectrum, I did have a cousin who told me that my ears stuck out too much. And I believed her. It bothered me tremendously. I remember taping my ears to my head hoping that they would begin to lay flat…..Words are so powerful.
    I wish that I had always been more careful of my choice of words. We learn a lot over the years and I wish I could have had all my life lessons in my younger days, but that’s not the way life works…..
    I want to be found building up those around me rather than tearing them down.

    1. Thank you for sharing, however, I bet you are beautiful. During my middle years, when I was caring for seven children, I thought I was just average too. Frankly, I was tired. LOL Now I’m in my late sixties and I look in the mirror and I say, “Man, you are one good looking woman for 68!” We might as well tell a story that makes us smile and this story makes me smile. : )

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