In our culture the 4-letter word refers to words categorized as profane or vulgar. But if you dig deep enough most of these words have roots in religious practices or bodily functions. Which in of itself are not profane at all. But these words got singled out by their ability to shock someone else by uttering something that at the time was considered scandalous. So the truth is it’s the essence and intent that defines the word – just as it is the essence and intent that defines your life.
Words are our most powerful tool. They bestow upon us the power to name a situation, thus giving us the power to define it. We create with words like painters create with color and shadow. This is an ancient core belief, one that is expressed in Genesis,
“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was formless and empty, and darkness covered the deep waters. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the surface of the waters. Then God said, ‘Let there be light,’ and there was light.” (Genesis 1-3, emphasis mine.)
We as a country have experienced many difficult things this year. Mass shootings killing innocent children, huge tornadoes creating mile long swaths of destruction of life and property, and random bombings on American soil just to create chaos and fear. And while it is so easy to see the manifestations of these events on a macro level, what if I told you that you had the same power to harm or help on the tip of your tongue?
Have you not experienced a loss of innocence and joy from someone’s scolding or hurtful words? Have you not experienced destruction in your life from verbalized anger or hate? Have you never created fear and chaos from the words you used to frame events in your life?
You are powerful beyond belief – and I literally mean beyond belief because we tend to really believe what we can see yet so often we don’t really look at what’s in front of us. How would the landscape of your life right now change if you looked at it with eyes that searched for the results of what you’ve spoken into being.
Now I understand that the most common response to this kind of realization of great power is to turn away because with great power comes great responsibility. And the “R” word usually is enough to send you running in the other direction. But what if you thought of it this way? With great response-ability comes great freedom. What would change in your life if you had the conscious power to freely sculpt your experiences?
You do have that power – you just need some training in how to use it. So here is an exercise that flexes your response-able muscles thus shifting your outlook, and we will use as our example the most powerful 4-letter word in your daily experience.
“Let us always meet each other with smile, for the smile is the beginning of love.” ~ Mother Teresa
Love is the most powerful 4-letter word in your life because it holds the most power of being a sacred experience or a totally profane one. We have all been at the ends of the extremes both ways over the course of our life. However, we are not at the mercy of outside circumstances in this matter of the heart. Most of our difficulty lies in our expectations about what love should look like. We get into relationships with others and have these hidden landmines which are laying in wait for our family or spouses to step on one. In addition we use them as the yardstick of how we asses their love for us. Did they trip a mine this week? If not then we feel good about our relationship, if so then they don’t love us correctly and we need to push back to make ourselves feel better.
But what if you really had the power to paint the perfect picture of love? One that would give you that consistent feeling of connectedness and joy? You do have that power- you’ve just never been trained to use it. Here’s how to turn your love life around: notice what you are noticing. You can do that by listening to what you talk about. Get a small notebook and just listen to the words & phrases you use when talking about any of your relationships. Write them down. Now don’t change anything. Just talk as you normally do now, only write down the things you focus on in your conversations.
Look over what you’ve written at the end of one week. How many times did you talk about negative things when describing your spouse, kids, or family? What are the recurring drums you beat over and over during the course of the week?
Now for the second part of this experiment. Actively look for good aspects of your spouse, kids, or family to talk about and stick to only them. Pay such close attention that you only speak of good things when discussing these 3 areas. You may not be able to control your thoughts but you can control your words. It might take some practice but it 100% in your control.
Fully commit to this exercise for a few weeks – it might take 3-4 just to get good at it. Then reassess how you feel afterward. Are you actually happier with your loved ones? Have you had fewer rough spots?
Work & Self
“All things are difficult before they are easy. “~ Thomas Fuller
Once you’ve mastered this go on to your work and yourself. Both of these are also loaded with negative talk that creates the very things you don’t want in your life. Pick one aspect of each of these topics and be vigilant in noticing what you highlight and bring forth with your words. This could radically shift your life in a very short amount of time if you will pay attention to what you are saying.
“Words mean more than what is set down on paper. It takes the human voice to infuse them with deeper meaning.” ~ Maya Angelou
We are not born with many life skills – and it seems like the ones we really need we are never taught so don’t feel like you are alone in this struggle. Help should not be seen as a 4-letter word. If you’d like to turn around and head in a more positive direction then get a co-captain to assist you in creating a new course for your life.
We are all in this together – as you bring in more joy into your life you show others that more joy is possible. So please take an assessment of your life and pick one of these themes and pay attention to the power you are wielding. You are the master artist drawing your life in full color with the paintbrush of your words.