The way we use words reflects our internal world, affects our external environment and shifts world-view as well. Snap comments, judgments and reactions can reverberate in unintended ways.
For example, take the word “devastation” related to our economic crisis. Would the impact be the same if we used “disquieting,” “disruptive” or “dissatisfying?” When we complain about our political, financial or personal futures, what messages are we absorbing and expanding? Are we attending to the impact of our words on the listener as we spill out our reactions and conclusions?
In his New Years sermon, Rabbi Peter Rubinstein of Central Synagogue in New York City reminded us of past truly devastating events: the destruction of the Temple, the Civil War, World Wars I and II, the Holocaust. He entreated his congregation to remember its roots: decency, kindness, optimism, friendship, family and faith. He invited each of us to think of one thing we each could do to re-establish our sense of self-worth in the face of our shaken financial wealth.
We each, in our own worlds, can create a sense of control, commitment and competence by consciously choosing how we speak in our own heads and out loud. We have a choice of stemming or spreading the fear and foreboding. We create our moment by moment life by how we think and how we speak.
So, I pass on to you the Rabbi’s suggestion: think of one thing you can do, plan or talk about with your family, friends, co-workers, neighbors that is meaningful/purposeful for you right now. Choose something small, and within your control, an activity or relationship you may have put aside in the interest of forwarding your career.
Every day, practice considering what you say, how you frame your current view of our changing world. Think about ways you can revise your perspective in light of what you have and can build rather than what you have lost.
A conscious, positive shift will influence the responses you get and create a cycle of hope to replace what is becoming a national cyclone of fear.