Truth has many colors – and yours is the virulent green of day-old vomit.

by Cyndi Paxton Johnson

Every time we open our mouths to speak we have a choice. A critical choice.

We can choose to use our words to build someone up, to brighten their day, to tell them they’re awesome, they’re loved, they’re creative, they’re resourceful. We can use our words to help them become stronger, more secure and able to take on life’s challenges. We can make their world better, simply by pointing out the positive.

We can choose to remain neutral.  We can talk about the weather, football, the government or what to make for dinner. These words don’t have a positive effect on the world, but they do no harm, either.

Our third choice is the most popular option. We can use our words to wound, to hurt, to embarrass. We can point out the other’s faults, shortcomings and imperfections. We can let them know we find them lacking, less than optimal, less than…..well, ourselves.  We leave them slightly stunned, trying to hide the wounds our words have caused.  Their world – and self-esteem – is diminished slightly; our words have found their mark. We shrug, turn away, and reassure ourselves that we did nothing wrong – we spoke only the truth.  We continue along our way, in search of our next victim.

As a recent victim, I say to you: the truth has many colors, and yours is the virulent green of day-old vomit.  If I do not ask for your opinion – do not give it. Do not tell me of my faults, I know them already.  I should, you’ve pointed them out enough.  Please note – they still exist; your notice did nothing to help me grow, indeed, it kept me small and helpless. Perhaps that was your plan, all along?

And now, like other victims, I gather positive words about me, shoring up my self-esteem until I can rejoin the day and continue to make positive inroads on my goals (which I was doing quite nicely until your words derailed me. Again.) I wish your words didn’t matter. I pretend they don’t. 

That’s not to say I haven’t learned from your words.  I have. Although perhaps not what you intended.

I learned to measure my words before I speak. When I am angry, or hurt, or disappointed I remain mute. Others think me weak, a pushover.  But I know words are like bullets – and once fired – cannot be contained.  I know my words will echo long after they are spoken, and take great effort to make sure they leave only positive trails.  

I wish you would, too.

Graphic: Words_as_Weapons_by_Dickie0


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