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.)
Have you ever thought of the difference between introverts and extroverts when it comes to sharing the love of God with others?
Since many of my readers are introverts (introverts love to read blogs and make up 50% of the general population), I’d like to explore this topic with you.
What does it look like when an introvert shares God’s love with his neighbors?
It might look like stopping to pet a neighbor’s dog when you encounter them on the sidewalk outside your house. Asking how their day went and then asking good questions because you really are listening and you care.
It might look like patiently listening to a friend vent, without criticizing them for their feelings and thoughts. You are a “safe” person they can be open with.
It might look like giving money to a street beggar or a musician playing on the corner. You make eye contact, smile at them with compassion and drop something in their cup. You acknowledge their existence without saying a word. Maybe you nod along to the music to let them know you “hear” them.
It might look like talking to your waitress at the restaurant. Not just giving her your order, but also asking how her day is going and then really listening to the answer. Or when you get your hair cut, remembering what your hairstylist or barber told you last time about their family and asking about them.
Introverts are not likely to be found standing out in a crowd. They are not big and flashy like extroverts. They don’t “share the gospel” by passing out tracks, preaching or asking people to listen to them as they share the four spiritual laws. In fact, the very thought of imposing their opinion on someone else makes them feel sick.
I am an introvert (mostly). My passion is to love others by “hearing” them and “seeing” them for who they really are. To acknowledge them, just as they are, and to accept them as God would. To tell them, “You matter.” whether or not I use words to do this.
“Preach the Gospel at all times, and if necessary use words.” I’m guessing this originated from a Christian introvert. Words can be so empty and unfeeling. I have had many people “preach” at me with lots of words, but I didn’t feel God’s love from them or what they were saying.
The extroverts tend to have a lot of stories to tell of how God used them to talk to a stranger about His love. I like to hear those – I’m glad people are reaching out. But sometimes it can feel like that is the “standard” and if you don’t do it that way, you are somehow “missing it”.
So, this post is to expose this lie and acknowledge all my introvert readers and bloggers who make the world a better place – quietly, often silently, and yet their impact is deeply felt by those who are privileged to know them.
Thanks for listening. That’s what we introverts do best, isn’t it? 🙂