As a child, I was teased and made fun of about my hearing loss. In fact, I’m sure a lot of you have experienced some sort of teasing at one point in your lives, and remember a moment when it happened.
For some, those moments might be fleeting, and you might have to think hard about when that happened to you. For others, those moments took root, and maybe played a huge part in how you see yourself.
I was told that my voice was annoying, and that no one wanted to listen to it. Perhaps if I was told this once, I probably wouldn’t remember this, but I was told this often enough throughout my childhood that it stuck with me.
I did speak a bit on that in another blog post, where I talk about how I had the misconception that my voice wasn’t worth listening to, and my journey in shedding that misconception. This post will talk about the power of words, and how they can play a huge role in how you view yourself.
When we converse with one another, we typically exchange facts, anecdotes, stories, and comments. We comment on the person we talk to, on ourselves, on entertainment etc. When it comes to receiving comments about ourselves, we’re inclined to take it personally. Usually, it’s a comment about our appearance, or our ability to do something, or the way we talk. If we’re told the same comment over and over again, we’re inclined to take those comments as the truth.
A lot of folks with (and without) disabilities get told a lot of things as they grow up, whether it’s from their friends, childhood bullies, parents, doctors etc. Some of these things may be facts, and some of these things may be opinions.
Using a couple of my own experiences as an example - when it comes to my disability, I was told that ‘without my cochlear implant, I can’t hear.’ That’s a fact. I know this to be true because whenever I take my cochlear implant off, I can’t hear.
Another thing I was frequently told was, ‘your hearing loss is why you can’t dance’. This is not a fact. This is a hypothesis. However, I’ve been told this enough times that I’ve believed it to be a fact. I’ve actually embodied it. I am typically not the greatest. Now, I’m not saying I purposefully make myself be a bad dancer, but whenever I lack rhythm, I tend to blame my hearing loss. I rationalize it by thinking, ‘oh, I’m a bad dancer because I have hearing loss.’
I was talking about this with a friend, and they asked me, “what if that’s not true? Are you a bad dancer because you actually are or is it because you’ve been told that so often, that you just started believing it and became that?”
…take that in. I was told countless times that my lack of rhythm was due to my hearing loss, but there’s no correlation between being a bad dancer and having hearing loss. There are people out there who are completely Deaf without the assistance of hearing aids/Cochlear Implants and they are phenomenal dancers.
Just because we’re told something, or given an opinion about something regarding our own self…doesn’t make it true.
My point is that words have power, and if you’re not careful in wielding those words, you can end up providing an opinion that isn’t necessarily true to somebody, but they’ll take it upon themselves to be true.
Words have power, and if you’re not careful in wielding those words, you can end up saying something to someone that they might take on as fact - whether that be a comment on the way they look, or the way they speak or the way they do something. If they get told that opinion often enough…they might start believing that it’s true.
This can even happen from one moment - especially as an impressionable child. For example, a parent might have scolded a child saying that they were too rowdy, and that if they wanted to make friends, they had to behave. That child could take that comment/opinion and become quieter, or withdrawn because they wanted to make sure they could make friends.
Words have power. This applies to what people say to you, and also to what you say to yourself. Your word is more powerful than you think! My ask for you today is to be mindful when you speak to others, and to yourself. Is what you’re saying the truth, or an opinion formed from a past experience?