Lately I’ve been paying attention to the words people use. I’m noticing a pattern – especially after my 3:30am Battle the other night. Some words are like a trap door – if we’re not careful, we will fall into believing they are true. Here’s a list of deadly words that are often used:
- No one
When we use these words, it is rarely accurate (meaning there is deception in there somewhere). Often these words are used to manipulate our emotions – to bring death to our soul instead of life. Whether we speak them or someone speaks them to us (or we simply hear them in our head), they make the situation seem hopeless. That’s deadly!
- Nobody listens to me.
- No one cares what I have to say.
- Nothing ever works out for me.
- Everybody has a _(job, car, spouse, child, etc)_ except me.
- Everyone else has it better than me.
- Everything is my fault.
- I’ll never get that job I want.
- I always get blamed for everything!
I once had a male friend that whenever his girlfriend would say, “You never …” or “You always …”, he would reply. “Darlin’, I’m not that good. I never always do the same thing.” and he would kind of chuckle with a twinkle in his eye. He was trying to lighten the mood while also reminding her that he was just as human and unpredictable as we all are.
When we use sweeping words like Never, Always, Everything or Nothing, it can make us feel like our circumstances will not change. It saps our hope for the future. It can make us feel powerless to make changes for our good – which actually becomes kind of like a self-fulfilling prophecy. My husband often tells me, “If you believe something, life has a way of proving you right. So if you believe nothing ever works out for you, you’ll be proven right. But if you believe things will work out for you, they often do.” It goes both ways.
When those sweeping words are used against us, it’s usually an accusation. And like my friend said – we’re human and unpredictable and we rarely ALWAYS do the same thing.
It’s good to pay attention to the words you use (or are used against you) and determine if they are TRUE. Especially when that voice in your head says them. [Remember we recently discussed God’s Voice vs Other Voices: How Can You Tell the Difference?]
Context is Key
It occurred to me that the positive side of these statement can also be manipulation and deception.
- Nobody can do this as well as you can!
- No one stands a chance against you.
- Nothing can stop you now.
- Everybody wants to be your friend.
- Everyone admires you.
- Everything you do is amazing!
- You’ll never regret taking that job.
- I’ll always be there for you.
Most of these sound like positive, encouraging statements … except that they are deceptive. They are focused on inflating your ego with false expectations – not good and not realistic. A set up for disappointment.
How Do I Get Out of This Trap?
So how do we keep out of the extremes? Think carefully about what you want to say (or what you hear). Keep it balanced. Try substituting words like Some or Might. Notice how changing these words takes the “bite” out of those negative statements:
- Some people don’t listen to me.
- Some people don’t care what I have to say.
- Some things don’t work out for me.
- Some people have a _(job, car, spouse, child, etc)_, but not everyone.
- Some people have it better than me but not everyone.
- Some things are my fault.
- I might not get that job I want.
- I might get blamed for some things that I didn’t do.
Pay attention to the accusations you hear in your own mind. Change the wording. See if that seems more accurate. It will empower you to take action instead of feeling like a victim.
Don’t allow these words to manipulate your feelings – leading you to a sense of hopelessness that things will “never” change. That’s not God speaking to you, I promise. His words bring hope.
There’s always hope.
(See, there’s a healthy use of the word “always”. There are a few of them. Use it sparingly.)