The Words That Shape Us

What words did you hear used to describe you growing up? They could be from your parents, your extended family, or teachers. If you are like me, you probably have quite a few that run a spectrum from positive to not-so-positive.

The top ten words used to describe me were:

  • Intelligent

  • Stubborn

  • A Leader

  • Strong-willed

  • Emotional

  • Compassionate

  • Bossy

  • Dramatic

  • Thoughtful

  • Sensitive

This list still shapes me.

When I feel empowered, I embrace intelligent, a leader, compassionate, thoughtful and sometimes sensitive. I change stubborn to determined, strong-willed to tenacious, emotional to empathetic, bossy to delegator, and dramatic to expressive.

Then there are the moments when I allow the not-so-positive words to defeat me. I hear the old scripts in my head telling me I am too stubborn, strong-willed, emotional, bossy, dramatic, and sensitive and I allow it all to become my identity once again.

Words are powerful. Words have the power to make or break us, especially words that were repeated over and over again in our formative years.

We have a choice. We can continue to allow those words to define us, or we can get brutally honest with ourselves and decide which words are allowed to remain, which words can be transformed, and which words need to be thrown out.

The words we choose in our heads dramatically affect how we show up to our lives each day.

I have one phrase that keeps plaguing me even after all the healing work I have done. It shows up almost every day and most days I catch it, correct it, and move on. When I am tired or old scripts have been running through my head, it will take me out in less than a second. The phrase is:

“All you are good for is…”

Did you feel the emotion in that phrase? It’s powerful. It’s not empowering in the least, yet every time I am feeling small or taken advantage of, that’s the phrase that pops into my head. It’s the gateway for all the other less than empowering words that were used to shape my identity.

I am slowly working on rerouting that gateway with a new phrase. That new phrase is “I am worthy of…” I believe we are all born worthy of love, joy, belonging, purpose, choice, hope, all the good stuff. Broken hearts, relationships, and identities all mess with the truth of who we are. The truth is you are worthy. I am worthy. Even the people who contributed lies to our identity are worthy. It is within our power to choose the words that will shape us from this day forward, including the words we give to others.

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Photography provided by the amazing talent of Tammy Brice