Why do you let words have power over you? I heard from some readers after I wrote about the controversary of using either ‘the n-word’ or the actual word. Some were offended that I dared to say
nigger, even when calling it an offensive word. Some agreed that using substitutions for the word creates further barriers.
More than one suggested that using it repeatedly takes the power away from the word as a pejorative, the way homosexuals adopted use of the word queer and made it their own. (Remember, the original meaning of queer was ‘strange,’ or ‘odd,’ and only later did it become a slur.)
As long as you allow a word, any word, to have power over you, it is your master. And that makes you a slave to it.
Never Let Words Have Power Over You
Life is filled with words or concepts that strike fear in your heart. Most of them are not pejoratives. Amputation. Brain damage. Cancer. Change. Conscious uncoupling. Degenerative disease. Divorce. Fatal illness. Genetic abnormality. Grief. Mental retardation. Physical handicap. Radical mastectomy. You can add others to this list.
It’s the emotional meaning, what you tell yourself about a word, that has the most power over you. Just the way the word nigger has so much power for some people that they can’t even stomach a homonym with a vastly different meaning.
When one of these words affects someone else, you hide. When it affects you, others hide from you. It’s easier to hide than it is to confront the fear. The net result is people all alone and hiding in fear from each other at a time when they most need to be talking to each other and supporting each other.
Tough subjects make for tough conversations.
It starts when your commitment to have a better relationship with yourself and with others outweighs your fear of having difficult conversations.
It takes courage to engage in an honest conversation about a tough subject.
It takes respect for each other and yourself.
It can only happen when you’re willing to listen with an open mind to ideas that are foreign or new, ideas that stretch your thinking.
It requires you to prove yourself worthy of the trust that is required before others are willing to bare their soul, their fears, to you.
Claim Your Power
As hard as it is to have those conversations, doing so is the only way to claim your power over the word that strikes fear in you.
I can’t promise to make your tough conversations easy for you. I can promise that with practice, they become less scary, and more importantly, with practice, you find your own strength within yourself, and from your relationships.
Life Is Honest, Open and True: Do you hide from the tough conversations? If so, you’re not alone. It’s the rare person who has enough self-confidence, experience and skill to tackle one when it comes along. Those who do are rewarded with more rewarding relationships with others and a more rewarding relationship with themselves.