Wednesday, August 29, 2012

ABUSE & CODEPENDENCY: The Heartbreak of Falling In Love With Co-dependents




If you have ever fallen in love with a co-dependent let me warn you now that it is the hardest thing you will experience in your life next to being married to an abuser, because a co-dependent has built a protective wall around their realm that keeps them inside their abuser's castle no matter what (s)he does to them. The goal of the abuser is to win at any cost. That can include many things such as suddenly giving the appearance of becoming the consonant care-giver. Caring for the very children or spouse they abused earlier. It is all part of the cycle of the abusers repetitive behavior. The codependent is powerless to understand what has occurred because they want so badly to believe change is coming. The worst thing is that the codependent will feel justified in staying in that terrible relationship because it makes them feel better about themselves for enduring the pain. Even their abusers are co-dependent on them so that they can maintain control the partner they have controlled for years...they crave that control and the ability to abuse at will, and the abused accept the abuse so they can feel justified in their misery, all the while enabling the abuser to maintain "business as usual." Unfortunately, if a codependent should remarry they may still be attached to the abuser mentally and emotionally because they never received the validation they craved. Often times they return to their abuser and live a miserable existence in and out of bitterness. Codependents may feel they protected those they nurtured, but in reality, by maintaining a family in an unhealthy environment they fed the abuse and allowed emotional damage to all involved.
By Eric Metcalf, MPH
A WebMD Feature


The truth is that both men and women can abuse and both are codependent, but since the proportion is slightly more men to women, I will use the man as the abuser for this discussion.

A
busers tend to display characteristics of the codependent personality, as well as do those who stay in abusive relationships.
 
Codependent Personality Disorder is a dysfunctional relationship with ourselves. The codependent is characterized by their obsessive and repeated attempts to live their life through another, or to live their life for another-their children, or family, and even their abusive spouse. They have been abused most of their lives and choose subconsciously those who can hurt them most so that they feel good about themselves. The abuser, in order to enable this 'switch' attempt to control another and to control circumstances will act as well to maintain control once discovered by subtle means, usually by making alliances against the abused within the family and friends circle.

The codependent abuser may often feel like they are a victim, or that everything wrong in their life is another's fault. They have the tendency to blame others for wrongness within themselves, or to be hyper-vigilant to other's actions and opinions. They may attempt to 'fix' every one around them, or they feel an intense anxiety in a relationship. Abuser's and co-dependents fear real intimacy for different reasons, yet - self-contradicting - have an intense fear of being alone or abandoned. Codependents, on the other hand, while fearing intimacy will cling to an abusive relationship while craving intimacy from the abuser who is unable and unwilling to provide it.
 
Ironically, as much as a codependent person may feel responsible for others, she will feel the need to take care of others, she may overly relate to another's moods. She often will blame others for her unhappiness or her problems yet foolishly remain in an unhealthy marital relationship. If she has an issue it is almost always because of something another person said or did, or didn't say or do when she could have saved those she nurtures from more abuse. 

Additionally, where the codependent abuser may feel that it is the abused in their life that are 'over-controlling', it is in fact they, themselves, that are overly controlling as well by sponsoring an unhealthy relationship. The abuser is afraid that by allowing others to be who they are, or by allowing events to unfold as they will, that he will somehow, himself, be out of control. The abusive man believe only he knows best, he believes those around him should behave as he thinks they should behave, and he uses all kinds of little ways to get that person to do and think as he believes they should. He then becomes overly controlling and if the other person fights this control, refuses to change, or remains adamant in their own beliefs the codependent will attempt to control and manipulate them even more by more docile and subtle means - all the while claiming that the other one is the controlling one. He will use force, threats, coercion, advice giving, helplessness, guilt, insulting, shame, remove assets, neediness, selfishness, denial, manipulation, or domination - anything he can in his attempt to gain control over another. Tragically, the abused codependent will conform to his attempts in most cases and take on false guilt. The cycle is never-ending and if their are children in the relationship, they pay a heavy toll for life.

Am I Codependent?
Emotional problems are common in the codependent. Depression, anxiety, dysfunctional relationships, insomnia, addictions, or over possessiveness in relationships are all common traits among codependents. Additionally, a codependent often has a driven compulsion for 'more', yet an anxious feeling of incompleteness or emptiness will remain  - no matter what he has accomplished.
 
Common signs that you may be a codependent abuser:
  • Constantly seek approval and admiration from your mate, having no true sense of self identity outside a relationship
  • Inability to feel comfortable when alone
  • Feelings of being superior or not like others
  • Confusion, or a deep sense of inadequacy
  • Feeling either totally responsible or completely without blame
  • Extreme dependency  and control of your mate, and an intense fear of abandonment
  • Unyielding and in need of constant control over all aspects of the relationship
  • Extremely low self esteem and may be very self-critical
  • Difficulty in developing or sustaining meaningful relationships. Long line of failed relationships of which the codependent abuser believes the other partner was always to blame.
  • Lies for no reason. Creates a 'false self' that the outside world sees
  • Denies or refuses to recognize that his actions are not 'normal' behaviors
  • Denies feelings of fear, insecurity, inadequacy, guilt, hurt, or shame with self
  • Gets bored easily, needs to feel excitement
  • Craves the next high and becomes obsessive compulsive with time
  • Overtly sexual and demanding
  • Easily angered and resentful while masking it with kindness 
Common signs that you may be a codependent in an abusive relationship:
  • Difficulty in following a simple project through. Inability to concentrate
  • Unhappy. Joyless. Unable to to relax and have fun
  • Abused as a child 
  • Depression
  • Sadness
  • Fearful of change
  • Intense lack of self-confidence. Inability to make even simple decisions or choices
  • Denies feelings of fear, insecurity, inadequacy, guilt, hurt, or shame with self
  • Inability to positively see alternatives to bad situations. Pessimism
  • Isolation from friends and family
  • Believe there is something wrong with you. Thinking if you change you can make your partner happy
  • Misguided sense of loyalty to the abuser 
  • Fear of making mistakes to the point of complete indecision
  • Feelings of anxiety even sickness when faced with anger and criticism
  • Confusion between love and pity
  • Panic attacks and physical problems 
  • Tendency to be a rescuer to others suffering from hurtful relationships and seeks those who 'need' you within your social strata
  • Inability to commit to another because of a need for validation from the abuser
Unfortunately, falling in love with someone who has been controlled to the point of accepting false guilt as a way of life could prove to be very painful to those who love them. The devastation is almost total in most cases. In fact, they enabled their own misery by protecting those who damaged them. Many never fully recover from a devastating long-term relationship without intense counseling and therapy. Is there hope? Yes, for some, but the price is high and the emotional pain must be counted for those who choose to love them. 

Things that will happen to those who fall for people who live in abuse relationships:

  • They make promises but find themselves helpless to fill them
  • They have no concept of time in relation to a relationship with you
  • They are so busy looking for acceptance by so many others that you will find they only have limited time for a deep relationship
  • They have real relationship concept problems that will lead you to confusion as to how a relationship will work
  • Self-doubt will cause them to change their minds so often that you will become frustrated with them.
  • They have serious trust issues and not just about you but that they can make a good decision
  • They lie to you so that you will not uncover the fact that they have doubts about almost everything
  • They generally fear the loss of a relationship with their abuser and many often return to the abuse



By Eric Metcalf, MPH

I recommend reading Enabling Personalities by Jake Lawson if you are considering a relationship with a codependent person.
http://www.livestrong.com/article/14675-enabling-personality/

See you next blog,
Ted

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Character, Trust and Leadership Credibility Starts At Home

In relation to leadership, you simply can’t take shortcuts, regardless of how long you’ve been leading. To build trust, a leader must exemplify these qualities: competence, connection, and character. People will forgive occasional mistakes based on ability, especially if they might see that you’re growing as a leader. However they won’t trust somebody who has slips in character. Character and leadership credibility always go hand in hand. Character makes trust possible. And trust makes leadership possible. If you are foolish in your judgements and actions and yet scream for respect or credibility you are on a fool's errand. Why? You have proven you are not a credible or trustworthy individual therefore you cannot be allowed to lead others! Consequences follow every bad decision you make. Whatever a man sows he will also reap!

Galatians 6:7-8  Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life.

Character communicates consistency and respect. Leaders earn respect by making sound decisions, admitting their mistakes, and putting what’s best for his or her followers as well as the organization ahead of their personal agendas.  A leader’s good character builds trust among his followers. However, if a leader breaks trust, he forfeits his ability to lead. Trust is a foundation of leadership. If you consistently violate the Law of Solid Ground, and leadership days are numbered in the workplace and the home. You may lead at work temporarily by following sound business principles but utterly fail at home because you lack Godly wisdom and credibility. In other words your walk and talk are inconsistent! You are not authentic in becoming Christ-like! God wants to develop His character in us so we can persevere for the long haul. Yet how He does it is often anything but easy.

Examine Credibility in Scripture
The word authentic goes from English back to French back to Latin and ultimately to the Greek authentikos. It means “conforming to the original” or “reproducing the essential features” of something, as in “authentic French cuisine.” If something is authentic, it is not a fake or an imitation. Collectors will pay a lot of money for an authentic Abraham Lincoln signature. Another definition says that authentic means “being actually and exactly what is claimed,” and the example given is “genuine maple syrup.” Not watered-down, but maple syrup through and through.

To be credible means that you are believable.
To be authentic means that you are genuine and real, not a fake or phony.

Put the words together and a credible, authentic leader is someone who can be trusted because he is what he professes to be. He is the real deal, what you see is what you get.

Here are few observations about credibility.

  • Credibility is earned over a long period of time.
  • Credibility is not all about what you do or what you say. It’s about who you are on the inside.
  • You cannot fool the people closest to you forever.
  • Your ministry will have lasting impact in direct proportion to the integrity of your own life.
  • The great enemies of credibility are pride, arrogance, isolation, and excessive self-confidence.
  • Ironically the more gifted you are and the more successful you are, the easier it becomes to fake your way through life.
  • Credibility once lost is very difficult to regain.


What qualities mark a person as a credible, authentic for leadership?

  •   Honesty.
  •   Willingness to admit your faults.
  •   Consistency.
  •   Kindness under pressure.
  •   Accountability in the small areas of life.
  •   Willingness to answer hard questions.
  •   Quick to accept blame, quick to praise others.
  •   Not taking yourself too seriously.
  •   Knowing your own limitations.
  •   Not blaming others for your own problems.
  •   Being Confrontable.
  •   Approachable without retribution.
  •   Handling anger appropriately.
  •   Not offended when others get the credit you deserve (having no desire or need to    brag about yourself).
  •   Keeping your word.


Men, there’s another word for living like this. We call it Integrity! You see the leader in your home must have integrity and credibility or he will never be acceptable to his family or his God! We are not born with Integrity. Integrity is something that is developed in our lives through the choices we make every day and the way we treat others. Often the best demonstration of Integrity is how you are and what you do when no one is looking. How do you treat people who can do you absolutely no good? What is your walk before God like when you are on your private computer and alone? How do you treat your wife and children when they disappoint you?

Integrity is an internal standard and conviction. It is having a sensitive conscience before God. The more sensitive your conscience is, the more in tune with the Holy Spirit you will be. If your conscience is given over to Holy Spirit leadership you will make wise decisions. As you follow your conscience, you will develop integrity in your life. True character and integrity are revealed in the choices you make when no one else is around.

Leading With Integrity
Two men in the Bible clearly demonstrate the power of brokenness and integrity. Saul and David were both imperfect. Both made mistakes. Both sinned. One had his power taken from him. The other was able to maintain it in his life. One had integrity. The other did not. What was the difference?

Saul made a lot of mistakes as king. He fell into insecurity, jealousy, anger, hatred, pride, rebellion, fear of man and witchcraft. He was an imperfect vessel. Yet when he was first called by God, he was humble and lowly in his own eyes. But pride soon took over his heart.

When the prophet Samuel confronted his sin, Saul freely admitted it (1 Sam. 15:30). But in his next breath he asks to be honored before the people. Saul was not truly broken or repentant before God. He had a worldly sorrow. He was sorry that he got caught. He was sorry for the consequences he now had to face.

But he still cared more about his own reputation than he did about hurting God’s heart. His heart was not pure. It was not truly broken or repentant. He was still seeking honor before men. Eventually Saul's sins took a terrible turn as he took seducing evil spirits for his guide in life. God refused his leadership and took it from him...it's called consequences!

Let’s look at David’s brokenness. Like Saul, he made some bad mistakes when he was king. He committed murder and adultery. Yet God called David a man after His own heart. How can this be? How can a man who commits such horrible things be after God’s heart? When David was confronted for his sin, we see his response in Psalm 51.
http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Psalm+51&version=NASB

David was not concerned about his reputation. He was concerned about grieving God’s heart and losing God’s presence in his life. His relationship with God was the most important thing to him. It was because of his godly brokenness that he did not lose the kingdom; nor did he lose God’s power in his life.

He sinned, but he received forgiveness through godly repentance. Even though he still faced consequences for his bad choices and actions, he didn’t lose his relationship with God or his authority and power. Godly brokenness brought restoration in his life.·

The integrity produced in David’s heart through his testings—including both the ones he passed and failed—caused God’s power to be harnessed, maintained and sustained in his life, maintaining his kingship.

David’s response meant everything to God. Even though he failed at times, he won in the end because he really had a heart after God. He allowed God to work integrity into his life.

Cultivating a repentant heart is the essential key to living a life of integrity. A broken and contrite heart will fully turn to God in weakness and receive God’s strength to change.·

Integrity is an internal conviction that no one else can give you. It has to come from within your own heart! The bottom line is this, you lack character you lack Trust, if you lack Trust you lack Credibility, if you lack Credibility you lack Integrity. Without these traits you cannot be allowed to lead ANYTHING! That isn't God's fault...it's yours what are you going to do about it? If you have a yearning for God and heart to match it's not too late.


(I want to thank Pastor Ray Pritchard at www.keepbelieving.com for a part of this blog)

See you next blog,
Ted

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

You Have Decided To Divorce: Starting Life Over Again

Let's face it, starting your life over after a divorce is probably one of the most daunting experiences you will ever face. Physicians and mental health experts say it is right at the top of list of the most traumatic events in a person's life! The unknown, after being in the familiar, is a very scary place when you are used to the same routine daily. Even in very abusive marriages the familiar becomes acceptable because not every minute holds terror. Too many abused immerse themselves in development of their children even though those children will remain dysfunctional depending on how long you stayed as your abuser's possession. Needless to say, you will have a lot of undoing once you are free of your abuser's influence. It is not impossible if you remain committed to the task of correcting wrongs without becoming too self critical and also criticizing the child who has become dysfunctional-more on that in a later blog.

Starting again, has caused many a hardship, anxiety, separation or depression when done haphazardly. We all, at one time or another, have had to pick ourselves up and start again, even if the cause was emotional or physical injury. However once you finally accept these changes as a part of life, you can once again move forward.We only live once on earth, and we can't live in the past forever-LET GO AND MOVE ON!

Hopefully, if you are a Christian, you have prayed consistently and received help from those you trust to come to this place in life and start over. In spite of what you have heard and been taught, Christ himself gave us the right of divorce even though He said it is because of sin (their unchanging abuse) that our hardened hearts require it. Divorce because of abuse is the right thing to do in almost every case! Most abusers only stop abusing until they get you where they want you-back under their control! 

Read Pastor Jeff Crippen's A Cry For Justice

Marriage, Vows, and Divorce by Jeff Crippen

( http://cryingoutforjustice.wordpress.com/2012/01/11/marriage-vows-and-divorce-by-jeff-crippen-and-anna-wood/ ), and Kerby Anderson's Probe Ministries What Qualifies As Verbal Abuse ( http://talesfromted.blogspot.com/2012/07/what-qualifies-as-verbal-abuse.html ) on one of my prior blogs. If you have been emotionally or physically abused it was never God's intention that you live with your captor!  

You were supposed to have a spiritual head of household who always had your best interest in mind based on real, identifiable love like Christ has for the church and gave himself up for it. In other words leadership based on humility and sacrifice not obsessive-compulsive leadership by intimidation or their idea of what is best for you!
  • Accept the fact that changes have to be made in your life. It happens to everyone, so you're not alone. Just take one big breath, one small step in front of the other, and think a little bit then take action!
  • Recognize what caused the changes. If it is a marital problem, where did the problem start? Could it have been avoided, or can you recognize it and make changes so that it does not happen again.
  • Read self-help books. Learn about relationships and find information that applies to your situation.
  • Admit that you have lost your job, and sit down and think about what other type of work you may be eligible for or been trained in. If you cannot find a job, then learn a trade. Take a night course, an aptitude test, or think about what you always wanted to do, but never had the chance. Change can be inspirational!
  • Take adult education classes or return to college and get that degree so you can obtain the kind of job you always wanted but thought you were not qualified for 
  • Meet others. Attend social events that do not involve drinking alcohol. This is very important for the believer especially. Because you battle the effects of emotional injury you can overdo the alcohol cycle and end up in real problems again. Also with the advent of date rape drugs it is easy for a perpetrator to spike your drink. The results are devastating! If you are going to drink alcoholic beverages moderation is the key! Be sociable and get on with your life and strive to be happy again.

Divorce can be difficult and can fill you with guilt or you begin to become bitter toward the other. Attend counseling or help groups, read books, talk to others that are trustworthy advisers and friends, but do not carry the pain or the question of whose fault it is within you forever. If you feel you can reconcile, then go for it! But in the case of abuse it is never a good idea to return. Ask yourself honestly would the second time around be any different or somehow better than the first? How can you trust someone who has damaged you emotionally or physically no matter how sorry they may appear?

  • Be careful in being too harsh on yourself. Recognize where you went wrong but remember the grace and mercy of our Lord is a constant! Blame can be like poison in the body. Realize mistakes were made and accept what has happened and go on with your life because you really cannot change the past.
  • Finding a new job and starting a new household can be a wonderful start of at a new life. You may find that it will be the best thing that has happened to you, something you have always wanted to do, but never had the nerve to change.
  • If you are still in the home you were living in before your divorce, rearrange the furniture and fixtures to suit your taste and that of your children, however a new, more manageable location is preferable in most cases. If you can't leave sometimes the memories of a room or a house can be hard to shake. Take an afternoon and rearrange the furniture, pictures, etc. It will start feeling new and fresh and the memories of your new place will be all yours.
  • Most importantly spend time with people that make you feel good and make you feel positive. You may find that old friends are bringing you down. Change the patterns and surround yourself with people who make you feel better or encourage your self improvement. Sometimes the best way to start over is to cut out the negatives.

Never! NO NEVER accept negative comments about your new life or how you got there as long as you are not repeating the same mistakes. Doing things the same way and expecting different results is totally insane!



See you next blog,
Ted

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Making the Hard Decisions in Life


Most of us like to find our comfort zone and build our lives around it even if it is unhealthy for us. Because it is familiar we lull ourselves into believing this is the reality of life. This is the beginning of a slow death emotionally because of abuse or condescension into a life that holds no joy in it. You learn not to trust that real people truly, selflessly love and care for one another. Worse, if you do acknowledge that real selfless love and care is possible, you tend you believe that what you have is superior to what you have because a home filled with condescension somehow makes you tougher, better prepared for a harshness in life...somehow more resilient! Nothing could be further from the truth!

It is the nature of all things to change, so why is it we are in a hurry to find our comfort zone even bad situations? For many, it is the way we have been brought up, and we do it for others or for what we perceive God wants. There are those who want us to settle into their comfort zone for their convenience and our eventual destruction. There are those who want us to gather in groups so we fit into their comfort zones too. Governments, church and non-church organizations, including those who would desire to control us and  would prefer us to be easily accessible and assimilated into their way of thinking.

In the beginning of humanity the world was divided into five continents and five races. Over time all races have become intermixed. It is humanity's' instinct to explore, to discover new lands and peoples. For those who never settle down they have found their comfort zone and making changes and it is never a hard choice-but a welcomed one. Change is the only constant in life. At some point in our lives many of us will make a choice to settle down or settle for that which imprisons us, not the other way around. From the time we are born we live for change. We wonder about what is out there, about our adulthood and what is waiting for us, and if we are encouraged by our parents, change becomes our goal.

The longer we stay in our comfort zone, even if it is an unhealthy one, the more difficult it is to make a decision to change. We have become root-bound and there are evil forces which would have us remain where we are-we are swimming upstream constantly aware that if we don't we will perish, or finally giving up and giving in we are swept backwards into our emotional death!

For those who are abused, or aware of their stagnation in a bad marriage, or job situation, the break away may be very difficult. In our comfort zone we have established barriers not to be crossed because we would be uncomfortable. Fear has crept in and taken a firm hold on our egos and we are convinced we will not survive, or our choices not be accepted by those we care most about. It's WRONG but we have told ourselves it is better to remain where we are than face the uncertainty of the unknown. Where others find comfort, we find fear.

It is because our ego is afraid of extinction that we cling to what is known and ego will fight any change. Somehow we have convinced ourselves or been made to believe that we cannot survive outside of what is familiar! For some, there is the fear of not being able to return to what is known when we fail. Relationships with family and friends are for most the hardest to leave even in the most abusive of relationships-EMOTIONAL!

Being alive and living are not necessary experienced as the same thing. For amongst the living dead in relationships where there is no growth, living is pure hell if we are not growing as individuals! I think one of the most foreboding feelings of doom is being alone or abused in a relationship. The feeling is like a drowning person we are going down for the third time and knowing we have finally given up hope and drowned, so we stay in our drowned condition mourning the loss of what could have been.

Given a long enough period in a bad relationship we become overwhelmed by fear, guilt and a sense of responsibility and we talk ourselves into staying in bad situations. If one has died in a relationship, there is nothing to give back except for that which is already expected of us. In the process of moving from a dead relationship one brings a new opportunity for life into it, change has to be made for all those involved. By disturbing the status quo there is cause and effect or change, and change is all that life is.

Because of our Christian values we are raised to be selfless, we consider the well being of others first, however, this is our own death sentence and we become co-dependent in a relationship that is going no where-selflessness brings hopelessness. In the greater picture it is wise to consider yourself first to save others. If a airliner is in distress you are taught by the crew to put the oxygen mask on yourself first so you can save your children. At sea you are taught to secure a life vest on yourself first so you can save your children or others. If you have nothing to save yourself with, you have nothing to give. If you are patient about entering relationships and think of fulfilling your dreams first and follow you dreams you gather things and you have things to give away-all others benefit from your abundance if you have the right heart and are a giver. There is little gain from one who has lost everything except for an opportunity for you to give. Change in bad situations brings abundance, new thoughts, new ideas, and new opportunities to share yourself with others. Fear is a crippling companion not to be trusted.

If you find yourself in a crippling abusive relationship, what is it you are contributing? If it is your body or what you can do for another and you receive no life from it-you have given a lie. You have contributed unwillingly from obligation-you will feel the pain of giving out of obligation. Obligation is a denial of self if it is not willingly given. The body is not life-life is what animates the body. Giving your body to another without the spirit of life is bringing death close to those who depend on you (your children). They will die inside to the abuser or bad relationship experience and so will you from your disease of fear.

In the greater picture the decision to live always works in the best interest of all those concerned. Leaving  any unhealthy relationship still brings heartbreak and sadness, but it also brings new life. Life is what you feel when you leave. Liberation is what you feel when the hurt is gone. Freedom is what you will experience and freedom is life, the words are interchangeable. You can always survive any bad relationship but you are not living because you know the truth of your captivity by fear!

Without the chains holding you back you will be free to make new choices and you will experience being alive. Wise choices bring life and you have no choices when you are dead inside. In considering leaving your present circumstances, embrace the fear you are feeling-know it is part of the first steps you are taking. Acknowledge the awareness of it and you will overcome it. Fear not, and you have probably not taken a step-your lack of fear is acknowledgement of a step not taken. Fear is not your enemy-it is your decision not to experience it, that is.

Freedom is not freedom unless it is exercised. Choices are not choices unless they are made. Freedom, choices, and unconditional love are what you are. You are not alive unless you experience them. Meaningful choices are hard to make but must be made in order to live. They require moving from your comfort zone, but they also promise the highest rewards. It is also your nature to change, to grow as an individual-to experience everything life has to offer. There is no life in an abusive or miserable box-there is only confinement to the same pain every day.

 I Timothy 1:7
 For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.

My hope is that you find the courage to make the hard decisions that bring life to you and to those around you who have seen you quit the struggle for life outside of your comfort zone. Never settle for "what is" if "what is" is sucking the life and spirit out of you.

See you next blog,
Ted

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Sticks and Stones can break my bones but Words Can Never Hurt Me...OR CAN THEY?

Some of us were taught by godly parents or grandparents to measure our words before they come out of our mouth so as not to hurt others, but many were not so they use words as a weapon! Have you ever noticed that mainly those whose use of words this way grew up insecure in themselves? In order to feel good about themselves they had to inflict pain on someone else. They convince themselves that armed with a caustic vocabulary they can now stand up and be counted. They project their misery on others so that they seem smarter or more apt to lead and be noticed. They're only words some people say and what harm can words do? Yes, some believe the school-yard taunt: "Sticks and stones can break my bones, but words can never hurt me." They're dead wrong. Words can hurt you in the home and in the workplace. Words placed at just the right time can build you up or tear you down and many can last a lifetime.

Today, I'm not referring to the caustic ones spoken (or received) tainted with sarcasm, irritation, anger or frustration, carrying an emotional punch and administered by an ABUSER. I'm talking about simple, everyday, normal word choices. Have you ever driven your car in a place that gets down-right cold and when ice forms on highways sometimes it is unseen under the right conditions? These words I am going to talk about, like black ice, are not an obvious danger at first glance. But, they can impact your results. So, user-beware.

Nan Russell is a writer, columnist, small business owner and consultant. She writes: "Words create impressions, images and expectations. They build psychological connections. They influence how we think. Since thoughts determine actions, there's a powerful connection between the words we use and the results we get."

Think about these two words: spend and invest. Would you like your bank to spend your money or invest it? Since spending implies the money is gone, you probably want a bank that invests. Now apply these same words to corporate budgets and see how that influences thinking. Early in my career, I saw budgets as allocated company money I had permission to spend. And I did spend it. I never thought of budgets as investing in the company's future until I was given profit and loss accountability for a new department and discovered my flawed thinking. I learned that in order to grow the department, I needed to budget with an investment mentality. Shifting words shifted my thinking and my results.

Try these words: problem and challenge. Would you rather a boss see your mistake as a problem or as a challenge? It's more than semantics. Problems are fixed; challenges are met. Have you ever had someone who sees you as a problem attempt to fix you? It's wrong and it's painful because they project their idea of how you should be in order to be like them! You have to lose your individuality to please them. Depending on how you view things words can evoke different feelings. You can have a more positive frame of mind meeting a challenge rather than fixing a problem or fixing someone.

Here are two favorites: bodies and people. As a young manager, I was negatively impacted every time I heard another manager talking about how many "bodies" they needed, or putting "butts in seats." Later, I learned many of those managers struggled with departmental morale problems. I could understand why if they saw people as interchangeable body parts to fill a seat rather than individuals playing an important role in their departments.

I realized the words I use to think and talk about my workload, my goals, my projects and the people I worked with influenced my thoughts and actions about them. So, in changing your words you change your impact. If I say I work "for" someone I have a different vision about my work-life than if I work "with" them; same with my staff working with, not for me.

Poorly chosen words can kill enthusiasm, impact self-esteem, lower expectations and hold people back. Well chosen ones can motivate, offer hope, create vision, impact thinking and alter results. I learned in twenty years in management my words have power over my thoughts and actions. They also impact and influence people I speak them to. By the way, for you PRETENDERS who think you can fool people by choosing different words in order to obtain what YOU WANT,  if you are insincere about the use of words, people know you for who you really are by your actions. Talk is cheap and easily identifiable by the way you treat others when your guard is down. If you really want to be a person who impacts for good, treat the person who can do you absolutely no good as if he or she were of great value and mean it!

If you want a winning team at work or at home, learn to harness your word power to work for, not against you; select words that create a visual of the desired outcome; and choose each word as if it mattered. Because the people you use those words on should matter greatly to you! You might be surprised how much it does. Want better results? Care about the people you speak to and check your words!

See you next blog,
Ted

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