My father-in-law is humble and bombastic all at once. It's a puzzling combination sometimes, until you get to know the soft, squishy child heart in the center of him. He has a catchphrase he tacks on to the end of difficult conversations: "words mean things."
What he means is that how you describe your situation or circumstance will determine how you think about it and each time you share, you'll build a mindset, a worldview, that will set you on a trajectory you may not have intended. A self-fulfilling prophecy.
A usual conversation goes like this, someone will be venting, a little carelessly. "Work is just killed me today. I really hate that this happened."
And Dad will shake his head back and forth and reach out his hand like he does when he's about to make a point, sort of like he's rolling a dice, and say, "words mean things. Is work really killing you? Is it taking your life from you? Or was it just a day full of setbacks and frustrations? Because if it's the former, something's gotta change. If it's the latter, you should really frame it differently. Words mean things.
I like to think of it this way:
The words you choose build the world you live in.
Words are world-builders.
Writing is telepathy. My thoughts, mindset, paradigm deposited directly into your brain.
Scripture, the Word, seems pretty brilliant when I think about it this way. In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was God.
Direct deposit clear thinking.
Words mean things. Humans since the dawn of time have named everything. We can't help it. If it doesn't have a name, a word-picture, a metaphor, we can't talk about it or think about it.
A good and accurate vocabulary is the basis of succeeding in nearly everything.
There's a reason why my 3 year-old says "ouchie" and a physician says "second-degree abrasion."
Words mean things.
I think a lot about the things I hear myself say, especially to my kids. I'm beginning to have some catchphrases.
I say things like: "Strong work," "we can do hard things," "I believe in second chances, try again," "work with a happy heart," "listen and obey right away," "what are you grateful for today?" "that's it! There's the happy journal moment!" "you're an empathy ninja," "you are really focused," "you're beautiful."
I also say things like: "Come ON, don't make me tell you again," "What are you doing?!" "That is NOT how you talk to me."
I think a lot about the things I hear myself say ABOUT myself, especially in front of my kids. How I talk about me will become how they talk about themselves until they're old enough to know better.
Knowing that words mean things, that they build worlds, I've gotten a lot more careful, more delicate, more precise when I talk to my kids, and to myself. I'm honest, sometimes brutally so, but I try very hard to be kind and loving too. And safe, always safe.
I want to equip my kids for the world they will inhabit. I also want to let them know that their words will build that world. Their words will build their memories, their identities. Their words will shape their relationships and opprotunities and paradigms and mindsets.
More and more I believe that mindset changes everything. And since we think with this magical mind pictures called words, words really do mean things. They mean everything.
Be very careful with them.