The following is adapted from Your Real Life.
Have you ever left a conversation feeling excessively happy, or overwhelmingly frustrated? Think about those conversations. What was it about? What words were said? How were the words delivered to you?
You can control the energy in a conversation with the energy you put into it and with the words you choose. That’s why practicing being intentional with the questions you ask and the answers you give is so necessary. To intentionally communicate with love, it’s important to ensure you keep your mental energy batteries charged, because your prefrontal cortex (where a lot of the mental energy activity happens) is where you process and choose words when communicating.
Further, the words you choose can help or hinder your (and others’) ability to learn and bounce beyond situations where you have to say something you (or they) don’t want to hear. How you say something influences how the listener reacts. Sometimes you’re delivering news that’s so bad, you’re basically dropping major adversity into the receiver’s lap. Speaking with love is even more important in those times.
The goal of communicating with love is to continually build loving, authentic relationships and to be intentional about the language used in relationships (not love languages; I’m talking about literal language here). Using positive language to communicate with yourself and others makes a significant difference in the outcomes of your communication and energy usage.
Here’s what you should keep in mind to help guide your loving communication in any scenario.
The Power of Lovingly Words
Language is critical for your well-being as it enables you to act, speak, be heard, connect, forgive, and love. You are the author of your own explanations, interpretations, and events, especially around an adverse situation. You control sharing the story. You are the authority on how to generate, create, and innovate the language with which you communicate your truth as you build loving relationships with yourself and others and as you build your authentic resilience.
How we talk about things can affect the outcomes of how we get through an event and, ultimately, build our resilience. Consciously or unconsciously, the body learns how to “react” through language. Changing the script for yourself can help you bounce beyond more easily while also combatting the stress, anger, and depression that adversity so often brings. The power of our own narrative can do so much for our resilience and well-being.
For example, if you get the common cold or flu, or even a cancer diagnosis, saying “I’ve got cancer and I am going to die” vs. “I can beat this thing and I am going to live”—such a choice makes all the difference in how we wire our brain language for healing. In the end, this rewiring technique can help us survive and build resilience.
Your Words Must Be Authentic
Understanding the power of words does not mean refusing to speak negative or difficult things for fear of creating negative realities. Speaking difficult truths is part of acknowledging and accepting the reality of adversity. Adversity is hard, and if we don’t say how hard it is, the bounce beyond becomes more challenging.
Some things are harder to say than others. Painful truths can be difficult to speak to yourself, much less out loud. But you must, because saying them—when speaking from an authentic place—is another way to foster learning and personal growth, as well as maybe a little courage. People say hard things all the time to help define their inner authentic selves, and also to help push through adversity with resilience.
Some examples include:
No. (It’s a complete sentence.)
I am going to beat cancer.
I am gay.
I think getting a divorce is best for us.
I’ve selected the other person because it’s best for the business.
I forgive you.
You’re no longer needed in this position/role.
It’s just not a match.
Saying hard things can sometimes be an adversity for those hearing it. Saying hard things can also be an adversity for the speaker. But doing so is powerful because knowing you’re able to say the words enables you to recognize your own sense of resilience in overcoming the adversity of being unable to voice it.
Words Always Matter
It’s important to learn to communicate with love because words matter; responding with love always leads to better outcomes, not least of which is the cultivation of more love. When you tell people you love them, you grow more love and make it easier to bounce beyond adversity together (and provide support for each other). And that love builds on itself over time as you continue to communicate from a loving place.
It’s also important to recognize the moments when your words fail you. When you stall and don’t have the right words or actions in the moment, it’s sometimes better to say something—even if it’s not the right thing—to acknowledge the difficulty and adversity than to say nothing at all. Saying nothing can cost you.
Words matter because they prompt the brain to create the behaviors we want to exhibit. Saying words with love, from an authentic point of view, enables you to be real and true to yourself. In many cases, it enables you to show respect and love for the person to whom you say them, including yourself.
For more advice on communicating effectively with others, you can find Your Real Life on Amazon.