Words are really powerful. Please choose them wisely. We all remember as a child hearing people say "Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me." While that seemed helpful, unfortunately, that could not be farther from the truth!
As I have gotten older, I have come to realize the power that the words that we use can have. Those "sticks and stones" that we used to be concerned about typically only cause damage in the short term... but words can cause a lifetime of pain.
Years ago, a friend that I was having a casual conversation with dropped a bomb on me. He looked me straight in the eye and said "No matter what you are saying to someone, you are ALWAYS responsible for how it lands." This was at least 10 years ago, and I still remember it vividly. That simple statement still impacts how I communicate with almost everyone in my life. That statement has prompted me to measure my words carefully before I say something that I feel could be particularly impactful.
Earlier this week, I had the chance to speak with a patient, let's call her Jane, that I have not seen in about 3 years. When Jane came to our office, she was scared. Scared about her pain, her declining health, about her ability to care for her children. Jane's list of concerns seemed to be endless. This was a young healthy woman, with young children, but why was she so scared?
Jane was coming to our office as a last resort... She had seen several other doctors who told her all about the arthritic changes in her neck (which were no more than what would be expected in a woman her age). They told her that she had a disc herniation, but conveniently left out the detail that it was "mild." Not one stopped and took the time to get to know Jane. She was scared! After listening to these doctors Jane became nervous about her neck, which created anxiety, and limited the likelihood that she would be able to get back to a normal life.
The information that they gave her was accurate, but it was a little misleading. She was not in danger. She was not doomed to a life of pain. However, those were the takeaway messages that she left those appointments with.
In the time since our first visit, she has had episodes of stiffness and soreness. She has had some headaches. However, she does not blame her issues on the arthritic changes or the disc herniation anymore. She knows that these episodes are temporary and are not going to doom her to a life of pain.
Far too often, we say things without giving thought to how the other person will receive that information. You chose your messaging. No matter who you are talking to! Whenever possible choose to spread optimism rather than doom and gloom.
You might just find that more people want to listen to what you have to say!
Movement is my medicine,