One of my favorite quotes says, “The power of life and death lies in the tongue. Speak life into people.”…now don’t ask me who said it because I honestly can’t remember right now, but I do know that it’s true.
Recently I found out something about a close friend’s childhood that broke my heart. It made me sit and think about some past childhood traumas of my own, how my parents handled certain situations, and the type of mother I plan to be when the day comes.
The more I sat and thought about these things, the more I realized that speaking life into someone starts from the moment that their little babies ears develop inside the womb.
I was blessed to have an angel on earth as a mother. My mom never spoke negatively towards us. She always complimented us on our brains and beauty but there was definitely a greater focus on our brains. I can recall endless hugs and kisses, “I love you” was an unlimited phrase in our house, and I always felt comfortable to cry in her arms. My dad was the same with the exception of one thing; I was to always have my own so that I would “never need a man for shit”.
When we had to stay in hotels and shelters my mom always reminded my sister and I that tough times wouldn’t last forever. Both our parents always told us that one of their goals was to make sure that we always had more than they had growing up. They always told us we could be anything we wanted to be. To this day my mom still tells me that I’m going to change the world. As I replay her words in my head, it makes me want to cry because of two reasons: 1. I don’t know what I did to deserve such an amazing mom but I’m forever grateful. 2. I feel bad for the children who aren’t fortunate enough to know a love like my mothers.
That brings me back to my conversation with one of my best friends… they didn’t exactly have the same privilege as me. I was surrounded by family and teachers who saw my potential at an early age and helped me tap into it. They were basically told that they wouldn’t amount to anything. It pierces my heart to think that people can say something so negative to a human being at such an influential age.
I think a part of the problem is the “fine line” gender roles that are placed on a lot of kids from the very beginning. Why is it okay for girls to cry but boys have to suck it up? Why is normalized for girls to hug their friends as a greeting but not for boys? Why are girls expected to be emotionally unstable but boys are suppose to be emotionally unavailable?
Maybe my views are a little skewed because I actually don’t have a child of my own yet, but you have to agree that we have way too many emotionally scarred children walking around in adult bodies.
When I turned 30 and made my list of things I wanted to do this year but I forgot to add one thing; I want to be more intentional with my words that I speak. We’ve all heard the saying, “You shouldn’t say things that you don’t really mean”, but we don’t really stop to focus on the contrast, and we definitely should.
I have some suggestions on how we can all be purposeful in speaking life into ourselves and each other:
- Tell people what you love about them, including yourself. A simple compliment can alter someone’s mood instantly. Instead of just a basic compliment to those close to us, be more specific. Tell your best friend you love their strength or their smile. Tell your children you love their creativity and their dreamy eyes. Leave post-it notes on your mirror with positive affirmations. (Shout to my Booski Ariel for every note she left on our bathroom mirror for me at the Cake Factory. I kept every single one.)
- If someone has expressed to you that their having a bad day or tough time, ask them what they need in general to make it better. It may or may not be something that you can provide them with. If you can’t give them exactly what they need, give them a hug or their favorite candy (because you know, quarantine *insert eye-roll*) and provide them with some life-speaking words.
- Listen to them. This one is extremely important because so many of these broken adults were always silenced as children so they feel as though their thoughts and words are not of value. By listening, you may not be speaking life into them but you are breathing life into them because they will feel seen and heard.
We need to be intentional with words we choose; especially when speaking to children. That goes for all the broken children walking around inside the many adults we know and love as well. Remember:
Thanks for coming to my Ted Talk.
Until next time; Be You. Do You. LOVE YOU💜