Sink or swim: wading through words

Words help us to make sense of ourselves and the word around us.

We use words – written and spoken – to communicate with others, express how we feel and say what we think about things.

Words are necessary. Think about it. It’d be really unusual if we didn’t use any words whatsoever in our daily lives.

But sometimes there are days when words affect us more than usual.

The words of someone we find inspiring can spur us to take action, while the words of a friend can make us feel encouraged or understood. On the other hand, there are times when we can find words tough. Really tough. It can be a criticism, a correction or a comment that just doesn’t sit well with us or coincide with our view of things.

Words can build us up or break us down. Yes?

But did you know there’s a way to make words always turn to our advantage? Believe it or not but the good, the bad and the ugly can all be used to build us (and others) up, and not break us down.

There are times when what other people say to (or about) us can feel like a dead-weight; causing us to sink into feelings of insecurity, fear or uncertainty. Our good humour and confidence escape us and we can feel very vulnerable in those moments.

BUT you know what? You can actually use  these occasions to rise up and go beyond your, or anybody else’s, expectations. It’s a challenge but I think you can do it.

SO… sink or swim? What do you choose?

Will you let negativity drown you or will you take on board what people say in good stride and go the distance?

If we know how to swim or surf the waves, the more confident we are to venture out into the ocean, right? The same goes for us when dealing with words.

If we can handle criticism and praise well, we aren’t afraid to learn, be optimistic and show the world who we really are. Now that’s confidence!

These are just a few tips that have really helped me – I hope they can help you too:

1. Listen. Besides hearing either praise or criticism, listen to what is actually being said. Sometimes we can take things the wrong way – even mistaking compliments for insults and vice versa! Don’t be rash or fall into the trap of unfounded gossip; we can react too quickly to things that were never actually said to begin with.

2. Is there truth in it? What other people say about us really doesn’t mean that much in itself… unless there’s a bit of truth in it. Let’s be honest with ourselves. The people who genuinely care about us can usually help us out here. They aren’t afraid to tell us the truth when we need to hear it (and they love us for who we are!)

3. Be humble. Maybe we’ve been told that we’re a real star at something. Great, say thanks! Gratitude goes a long way in spreading goodwill, while being puffed up with pride just turns us in on ourselves. On the flip side, when our glaring lack of talent in one thing is hard to ignore, avoid using words to belittle other people’s achievements.

4. Learn and live! Taking on board other people’s criticisms can be a hard pill to swallow at first but over time it gets easier if we’re honest, humble and optimistic. Practice makes perfect they say. We can all take steps to improve ourselves and reach our full potential.

Try it and help others along the way 🙂

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