Have you ever thought about how much power there is in what you say to others?
I have, but I was reminded by a comment on a post on Antique Mommy's blog how much others' words can inspire, sustain -- or crush -- us.
Want examples? I have a few.
Example #1: the academic advisor
When I was getting my electrical engineering degree, I went to see my academic advisor. At the time, my children were four years (Son the Older) and nine months (Son the Younger), and we had just moved into university housing for married students.
After my advisor asked me a few questions about my personal life, he told me that I needed to go home and be a "good mommy" for now. He advised me that perhaps I could pursue an engineering degree once my younger son was in kindergarten.
I was dismayed. Floored. Upset. Angry. But I pulled myself up to my full (short) height and informed him, "I have been admitted to this university. I have moved into married student housing. I believe your job is just to tell me what classes I need to take to graduate, so why don't you do that?"
Understand, I do not ever speak to someone in a position of authority over me in that tone.
He did what I asked. And I remembered his words the entire time I was in school. They spurred me on and kept me from quitting many times when it was tough. And believe me, it's tough to get an engineering degree, and much more so when you pile on a couple of kids, a part-time job, and the fact that I was female. I'm not a whiner, but I had a few professors who clearly didn't want me there.
Example #2: the pastor
I once had a pastor who I looked up to a great deal, a man I respected and loved and worked with well. He told me two things that I will tell you about here, one positive and one negative. One I've tried to live up to, and the other I've tried to defy.
This man is a master storyteller. He can take any story, from the Bible or otherwise, and keep you enthralled for any amount of time. It is his particular gift. He has honed it from the stage, and I'm not sure I've ever seen his equal.
He once told me that I was a good storyteller. Coming from him, I would love to believe that's true. I should probably work at it, as he has, to make it so if I wish it to be true.
He also told me once that I wasn't creative. This was several years ago, when I wanted to be more involved in a creative area. I'm not sure why he said it, although it may be just a downside of the "engineer" label. In any case, a small part of the joy I find in my creative pursuits is showing that voice in my head that he's wrong.
Before anyone asks, yes, I've gone back and talked to this pastor. I've long since forgiven him. In fact, I'm thankful for what he said: it spurred me to do a lot of things I might not have otherwise done.
Have you considered the impact your words have on others -- your co-workers, your friends, your spouse, your children? What are the words in your life that have changed your course? Spurred you on? Made you better?