The brain is such a powerful and mysterious organ to even scratch the surface here is crazy. I’m going to share my experience with my brain and what it does with the words I hear and the words I say. I imagine my brain as an elaborate index card system where the “important” information is kept at the ready and the “other” information is filed waaay in the back. Everything is there. All the pictures, images, experiences, phrases and feelings are stored. Accessing somethings are harder or takes longer than others. I think my brain was initially misfiring and decided the “important” things are any negative comments or events are kept close at hand and are never to be forgotten. Compliments, well, they fall into “other” and can be remembered with lots of effort. In my experience growing up, pain was a stronger and more familiar feeling than joy so that may be why they are so “important”.
The things I remember the most, and seem to feel like they are happening whenever I remember them are the painful moments, the words that were said, the tone and delivery were never forgotten. Those words became the voices in my head. These voices are the comments that I believed. In the movie “Pretty Woman” (yes, I’m an 80’s California girl) Julia and Richard are in bed talking and after receiving a compliment Julia says, “The bad stuff is easier to believe.” I cried when I heard that because it was true for me. No one can go through life and not be scarred in some way, but I believe it is important to carefully consider your words when speaking to anyone, but especially children. It’s like kids absorb everything they see and hear, even when it is not directed at them. They are not old enough to make sense of some things, but in their world everything that they see, hear and feel is because of them. (I am not going to discuss child rearing, I am just mentioning my viewpoint on the impact of our words and the delivery).
Words are so powerful, they can be used as sources of comfort, love, kindness or a way to wound. Brene’ Brown refers to a quote that says “You are responsible for the energy you bring into this room.” I am going to add that I am responsible for how I react to it. It has taken me many years of floundering in the world to realize my life was basically just a reaction to the world around me. I allowed others words to send me off into various directions living as a victim. I learned to use words to wound in defense. I learned very well growing up how to use sarcasm to cut, while getting a laugh. The cutting words and statements came easily and flowed freely because that is what I heard and knew. I am not referring to foul language. I am referring to seeing someones weakness and attacking. I spent my pre-teen years being attacked in this way daily. In my teens it became a defense mechanism and eventually a tool. I am not proud of this. I have had to make amends to countless people because of my words.
The words I heard growing up had a part in who I became and what I thought of myself. It doesn’t matter that my parents were doing the best they could with what they had. It doesn’t matter that the people who harmed me didn’t know any better. The words became a weapon in my own mind. I just know that for me that when words meant to motivate, like “if you don’t do better in that class you will fail!” Failure is unacceptable. To motivate through words that create fear is not healthy. I am not fear motivated. I will do the opposite of what you want if I am threatened. The phrases and words spoken to me growing up became the voice in my head.
Today, I struggle with the mean critical voices in my head, which have developed steam, keep me in a place where true love has been impossible. They are the tape that runs freely in my head. I have worked very hard at overcoming the victim behaviors and seeing the aftermath. Seeing what I say and do to myself and how it keeps me from feeling joy and love for myself. You can only give away what you have. I have to love myself before I will ever have true love to share with another.
I spent 30 years numbing the pain. When I heard Brene’ Brown say, “When you numb the dark you numb the light.” I realized that there is so much happiness that I have, but I couldn’t feel it because I was numb. I decided that rather than spiraling down with the old tapes in my head I would take it one step at a time and change the tape. I will climb the stairs and get to my place of joy and love with out the negative voices dragging me down the stairs.
It was a much faster trip down than coming back up, but I WILL MAKE IT!!