I was just listening to music whilst deciding what to write my (long overdue) next blog post on, and the following lyrics echoed in my head after hearing them: Hoping for the right words, waiting on the right words… (Black Butterflies etc by The Maine)
As an English student and amateur writer, I have always relied on words to convey a message, explain a point of view, express my feelings. Probably over-relied on them if I’m honest. I have been through the darkest and most confusing states of mind in my life recently. There have also been times of such a high that I have truly lived in that moment without a wish for anything more. I can think of many situations in that period when I have tried to fix, improve or recognise what I feel through the use of words. Many of those times it hasn’t worked or it’s even made it worse.
My efforts to explain or talk my way through a distressing situation have caused me to worry, panic and actually set me up for future suffering when I submit to the conversation-post-mortem that I inevitably do, even when I know it can’t change what happened. Instant messaging can be the worst for this, because it is so easy to send a message in one state of mind and regret it in the next, or obsess over the choice of words whether you regret it or not.
It is proven that words matter a lot less than tone of voice, and certainly more than body language. Why then do I put so much importance on the words I use, and I’m sure I’m not the only one. It’s the impression you leave on people that matters, and although words contribute to that, they are not the significant factor in determining that impression.
Sometimes when words are delivered to me I obsess almost as much as I do about my own. Give me sticks and stones any day, some of the words that have been spoken to me have stuck deep, and still cause me insecurity and hurt now. A point that all of us could do well to remember, that words are very easily said, and impossible to retract (unless of course you get the better of the ‘delete message’ function on WhatsApp)
The most joyful and perfect moments I have ever experienced didn’t involve words at all. As I remind myself of this, I hope it triggers some reflection in readers, that you don’t have to worry if you don’t have the best way with words. There are techniques you can learn to deal with conflict, public speaking and many more scenarios. Besides, those of us that have seen our verbal and written communication skills as a strength for most of our lives not only find that words fail us at times that really matter, but sometimes derail and destroy our peace of mind.