The Limit of Language & Power of Words
I just heard a wonderful talk from Sherry Anshara on the power of words. She literally makes up her own words just to prove that words only have the power that we assign to them.
I just quoted this today: You heard what I said but did you really hear me?
The power of language is tricky. Words have started wars and words have ended wars. Words have healed and words have hurt. Words have helped and words have destroyed.
Dr. Cindy Trimm said this about words: "We don't think in words. We think in pictures." Then we try to articulate what we "see" in our minds. This is a tricky process and the limit of our vocabulary will place restrictions on our articulation.
Your Unique is complex. Describing it is difficult and limited by the language that you use. Learning to appreciate Your Unique requires an expansive vocabulary.
Vocabulary is NOT a popular subject.
the body of words used in a particular language.
words used on a particular occasion or in a particular sphere.
the body of words known to an individual person.
Our vocabulary is limited by our native language and our subsequent exposure to different cultures and experiences.
When I was 11, we moved from New Jersey to Tennessee. All was well until the day that my aunt tried to send me to the store to pick up some potatoes.
She clearly said "taters." I clearly had no clue what she was talking about. She attempted to describe them - round, brown. I stared at her in confusion. She threw her hands up in frustration and called my Mom.
She explained the situation to my Mom like this - what is wrong with her? don't she know what a tater is?
My Mom smiled, looked at me and said "Becky, can you go get POTATOES?"
Well, why didn't she just say that! Potatoes I understand!
Words can have power or they can trip us up. The same word or combination of words can mean different things to different people.
It is a miracle that communication happens at all.
The truth is that WORDS matter. And they matter a lot.
In my blog post on Redefining Weird, I talked about taking the word WEIRD and making it mean something new. Sherry Anshara takes this one step further. She makes up her own words.
The truth is this: words only have the power and meaning that you assign to them.
Loving Your Unique is about defining your life on your own terms. This will require you to examine the words that people spoke over you, to you, or into you.
Some people have learned the nasty habit of using words as a weapon to wound the souls of people around them. And if you let yourself get caught up in their word play, you will be most miserable indeed.
The story of the Ugly Duckling touches us with this truth.
Have you ever felt like this Ugly Duckling? Rejected? Lost? Alone? Misunderstood? Misinterpreted? Hassled for being YOU?
In the original version of the Ugly Duckling by Hans Christian Andersen, the duckling did not find himself until after he had grown into a beautiful swan.
Here is the end of the story:
The ugly duckling, now having fully grown and matured, unable to endure a life of solitude and hardship any more and decides to throw himself at the flock of swans deciding that it is better to be killed by such beautiful birds than to live a life of ugliness and misery. He is shocked when the swans welcome and accept him, only to realize by looking at his reflection in the water that he has grown into one of them. The flock takes to the air, and the now beautiful swan spreads his gorgeous large wings and takes flight with the rest of his new kind family.
This is the power of love and acceptance. And there are no words that can adequately describe this power.
Getting to the end of that story will require use to use the power of words in a different way.
"I am who God says I am."
The words that people use to hurt us are commentary. Those words only have the power that we give them.
Call me whatever you like. But I am what I call myself. I cancel the power of YOUR words.
Today, I want to encourage you to redefine your life using the power of your own words.
Expand your vocabulary beyond where you are right now. Today, I know about "taters" and "potatoes." I guess you could say that I am bi-lingual :)
Get out of the narrative that somebody else gave you. Create your own story using your own words. And make the words that you speak to yourself words of beauty, power, and love.
Like the swan, you are beautiful. Don't be confused by the ugly words that tell you something different.
I am cheering for you!