Handle them carefully, for words have more power than atom bombs. -Pearl Strachan
A while back, a friend shared that she was about to receive her college degree. I asked what her major was and she replied, "Art History, but I could only go part time so it's just an Associates degree".
Say what?! ONLY? JUST??
Uh last time I checked, earning a college degree was a huge accomplishment in and of itself, so it's a pretty BIG DEAL for a single 37-year-old mother of 2 with a full time job!
I clearly remember a special day many years ago. My grandfather woke me early so we could shine our shoes before gathering round the dining room table for my grandmother's homemade breakfast. Then we donned our Sunday best and piled into the family car. Everyone was smiling as we headed to my mom's graduation from the local community college. I was 9.
Being present when Mom received that Associates of Science degree in Political Science remains one of the highlights of my life! For 3 years, I lived with my grandparents during the week so Mom could attend night school after working all day at her full time job, to earn that darn piece of paper. This day represented triumph over the history, obstacles, and the naysayers. Mom was the first in our immediate family to both attend AND graduate from college.
Yet the real success rested in reclaiming HER personal dreams and writing her own story rather than succumbing to perceived notions of a young single woman of color raising a child in a world that deemed her future as limited. That day, I learned many great lessons about being a strong, resilient, determined, goal-oriented woman, as well as the necessity of a powerful support system.
Today, I feel the impact of those two small words - JUST and ONLY - in diminishing the hard work and sacrifices we make to achieve a dream or reach a goal or shine from within or simply function. As a health coach, I personally witness people giving away their power, their energy: "I only ate 3 vegetables today" or "I'm only 23 so no one is going to take me seriously" or "I'm just a paralegal" and "I'm just working out 3 days a week".
Using these two words, in this way, is an unconsciously learned behavior that is rooted in our history. The practice sucks the life out of our accomplishments, and all that went into achieving them. It's an unintentional dishonoring of how we've spent our time and our energy, which is the stuff life is made of, truly.
The good news is that we can choose to energize our lives by honoring our efforts! And let me be clear that this is not bragging but rather stating what is AND not making excuses for it in the same breath.
My challenge to you is to take the 3-day Words Have Power Challenge by committing to:
- being more conscious about the words you use
- spreading the word about self-limiting vocabulary
Start whenever you want or whenever you can. If you forget, start again. Make it fun by engaging a partner. No rules. Just be more mindful of your own vocabulary and inspire others to do the same in a loving and gentle way. I hope you'll share how you are embodying this new verbal energy. Your words have power, so use them wisely!