My mom used to say to us, "If you can't say something nice don't say anything at all." She knew that the words you say can be hurtful.
I bet every single one of us learned that lesson as a child. So why is it when we are grown-ups we can not say pleasant encouraging words to one another?
I was remembering 5 1/2 years ago, after my stroke, at a doctor appointment that has been burned into my memory. I will always remember it. I will always remember the doctor who said it. It was a defining moment in my stroke recovery.
After my stroke 6 years ago, I had to have regular check-ins with my then physician bi-weekly. It was about 3 months post-stroke at the time. Needless to say, I wasn't doing well emotionally.
At the end of my exam, the doctor said, "You know what your problem is? It's not the stroke. It's that you are FAT."
Those words hit me like a ton of bricks.
He thought all my problems were because I was fat. Not the fact that I had just suffered a life-altering tragedy. No, everything could be fixed and I would have never had the problem (so he thought), if I had never been fat.
After, I picked my jaw up off the floor, I promptly escorted myself out of the office.
Where I sat in my car bawling for 30 minutes.
Shocked. Humiliated. Mortified. Beaten down. Self-loathing. Depressed with life. Depressed with my circumstance. Depressed with myself. Hating me. Hating him. Hating life.
I never went back.
And I loomed in that dark self-hating depressed state for 5 more years.
Words are powerful.
Words can be sharper than any knife.
We have the power to leave a lasting impression in someone's life.....with words.
The fact of the matter is this: Yes, I was heavy when I had my stroke. But, it wasn't my weight that caused it.
But regardless, his words have stuck with me for 6 years. Haunting me. Making me feel justified in loathing myself.
The words no longer hold any power over me. But, they were life altering.
His words are a reminder to me everyday to treat people with the respect they deserve.
You never know what words people will remember days, weeks, months or years later.
Choose your words carefully.
They may just have an impact on someones life.