Change Your Words - Change Your World!

The Bible says "A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in a setting of silver."  Pr. 25:11  Elsewhere it says  "Let no corrupting (decaying, discouraging) talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear." Eph. 4:29

A major part of learning to Change Your Words in order to Change Your World is learning to complete  the story that is running in their mind to run in your mind as well. It's called "empathy" - the ultimate power to enable change.  

"Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy" is a relatively short-term, focused psychotherapy for a wide range of psychological problems including depressionanxiety, anger, marital conflict, loneliness, panicfearseating disorderssubstance abuse, alcohol abuse and dependence and personality problems. The focus of this therapy is on how you are thinking, behaving, and communicating today rather than on your early childhood experiences that may have some bearing on what you are thinking/doing. We can change the former, not the later.

As medical, social and spiritual professionals trying to postively help our patients we frequently find ourselves trying to say negative things in positive words.

Negative Examples:

  • "If you smoke AND use your oxygen at the same time you're gonna blow us both up.  Stop it!"
  • "If you and your caregiver can't keep your meds straight then we can't renew your prescriptions."

How can we change our words?

1. Time and place. Make sure you choose a good time and place. If you are giving constructive criticism about something that has led you to having a strong emotional reaction wait until you are away from the situation that is bothering you. Give yourself time to calm down before describing your concerns. Don’t wait until the next time the situation occurs to confront the behavior.

2. Describe the behavior you are trouble with rather than labelling the person. For example: “When you smoke with the Oxygen on you are placing yourself and all those around you in very a dangerous situation” rather than: “What are you, an idiot?”

3. Describe your feelings (using “I” statements) without blaming the other person. For example: “I feel angry when...” rather than: “You make me angry”.

4. Ask for a specific change. If you just make a complaint without giving alternative suggestions you don’t give the person any help in knowing how to change the behaviour. For example rather than saying: “I can’t stand your loud music” you might say: “I find the loud music really disturbing could you please turn it down after 8.00pm?”

5. Specify both the positive consequences if the person does meet your request for change as well as the negative consequences if they don’t make the changes.

6. Be realistic in the changes you are suggesting and the consequences if they do not. Do not make empty threats. For example you wouldn’t say: “I will throw away your radio if you don’t turn the music down”.

7. Ask the other person how they feel about what you have just said. Being assertive is about having an equal interaction. Be careful this doesn’t end up as an exchange of criticisms.

8. Try and end on a positive note. If appropriate add a positive statement of your feelings towards the other person.

A Prayer - Dear God, Please make my words a source of hope, kindness and healing.  Help me to evaluate "the well" in my heart from which my words come.  Please help me to make sure my intentions are pure, my words are compassionate and their affects are hopeful;.

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