You Are What You Do – Not What You Say

A person’s word is directly linked to their honor, trustworthiness, and integrity. If someone’s word is their bond, they always keep a promise.

Photo by Cytonn Photography on Unsplash

Photo by Cytonn Photography on Unsplash

I like to say, “Words are Cheap. It’s your behavior that tells the truth.” A person can talk all day long about their ideas, theories, solutions, goals, how they would fix this problem or that. I’m sure you’ve heard the old adage that says, “Actions speak louder than words.” Many people are good at pointing out problems, but it’s what they do to find a solution that really counts.

Also, when a person doesn’t follow through with what he/she says, their talk is cheapened.

Yet, words followed up with action gain value. A person’s word only has value when it is proven to be true. Whereas, if something is false, inaccurate, or not followed through by actions it is considered “cheap talk” and has little or no value.

In days past people used the statement, “My word is my bond,” or “ A man is only as good as his word.” That means, if someone’s word is their bond, they always keep a promise. When not kept, they can no longer inspire confidence or trust in their fellow man. In other words, your word is directly linked to your honor, trustworthiness, and integrity.

“Action is difficult. You must be bold to activate a change or an idea because it will cost you.” – Trinity Café.


Being Trustworthy

Jessie, a fun-loving dude, was always out having fun with the guys. He played drums in a band, playing the local scene, never really trying to make it big. They played mostly on weekends and occasionally during the week for special events. He rarely got home before midnight and usually an hour or so after.

Eventually, all the guys in the band got married. Jessie and Janice were the last. When they got married it was understood that he played in a band almost every weekend. The wives were usually in attendance, at the club of the night, to cheer their husbands on. Some nights they made up the majority of the audience. Nobody really cared. They played music because they loved to play. It had never been envisioned as a possible career. All the guys had good jobs. The band was just for fun.


Breaking Promises

Image by Peter Timmerhues from Pixabay

Image by Peter Timmerhues from Pixabay

A year or two into the marriage, Janice got tired of hearing the same songs over and over. She got along with the wives, but they weren’t best friends. Janice began begging off to go out with her friends. They made the agreement that if either of them weren’t home by midnight they would either call or text with an update on their status.

Janice wasn’t really good about calling or texting. It started out with being a half-hour late with no call or text.

Jessie would ask, “Why didn’t you at least text?”

Janice’s standard answer was “Sorry, I forgot” or “Sorry, I lost track of time.” She always played it off like it was no big deal. One night it was 3 am when she came in, avoiding Jessie as long as possible.

“Where have you been?” he asked.

“At Pauline’s. We were playing Nerts and I lost all track of time.”

“Nerts until 3 am. I don’t believe you.”

“We were watching movies too. Honest,” Janice said. “We started watching the Fast and Furious Series. We got through three movies, but we didn’t start the third one until about midnight. I just couldn’t leave until I saw the ending.”

“Why should I believe you. You don’t keep your word. You could text while watching the movie. It’s easy,” Jessie said. “I’m beginning to not trust you.”

“Honest, I was at Pauline’s. Call her, if you want.”

“That’s not really the point, is it? We had an agreement and you seem to only keep the agreement when you want to or when you think about it. Yet, you want me to trust you. It is a choice. I’m beginning to think you don’t care,” he said.


Photo by Samantha Gades on Unsplash

Photo by Samantha Gades on Unsplash

Being able to depend on your spouse is what makes marriage special. If one or both partners are not dependable, the success of the marriage is questionable. Without honest dependability, the marriage cannot grow into a strong union that is able to function adequately.

When you say you’re going to do something for your family or you make an agreement with your spouse or other family member and don’t keep your word, you are letting them down and hurting your relationship. Following through on your promises and keeping your word reinforces your spouse’s trust in you.

Conversely, not keeping your word tells your spouse that you simply don’t care, whether that’s actually how you feel or not. It makes your spouse feel unloved and unimportant. It says, “You aren’t worth the effort.”

Behind Breaking Promises

Janice revealed that from the time she was about ten she basically took care of herself. Both of her parents worked and had very busy social lives. She was the oldest of three kids and it was her responsibility to get her siblings to feed and in bed at the right time. As she entered her teen years there were days and nights where neither mom nor dad checked in on the kids. They knew the younger kids were in good hands with Janice.

She wasn’t used to checking in with anyone. Most of the time it didn’t even cross her mind that she needed to check in. The only time she ever reached out to her parents was if there was an emergency that she couldn’t handle. She never really learned what it meant to be able to count on someone other than herself.

Since she was basically on her own from an early age, she really didn’t know how to honestly explain it all to Jessie. She wanted to please him and make him happy so she’d agree to call or texting or whatever, but then didn’t follow through. She didn’t know how to say “no”.

Janice also admitted that sometimes she felt controlled. She had been the boss since she was ten. She really didn’t have anyone to answer to as a teenager. Sometimes it just didn’t sit right with her. She realizes that sometimes she didn’t honor her word to stop the feeling of being controlled.

Both Janice and Jessie wanted their marriage to work so they started working on ways for both of them to keep their word and not feel controlled or threatened.


Plan For Keeping Your Word

  • Don’t say you’ll do something if you can’t do it or are unsure if you can.
  • Always be upfront and honest.
  • Reach compromises when necessary.
  • If you realize you can’t keep your promise, tell the other person as soon as you know.
  • Don’t say things like, “I intended to…”, “I forgot”, “I didn’t have time”, “I lost track of time”, “I was busy”, “I was trying to get finished…”
  • Excuses are meaningless and often create hard feelings and chip away at the trust. Excuses usually are a cover-up for the real reason that the person just didn’t want to do it. It is a choice.
  • If you make a promise and change your mind, be honest about the reason you made the promise and why you changed your mind. Reach a compromise.
  • If you are honestly forgetful or get distracted, use a calendar or memo on your phone. Set alarms of when you need to do something. Don’t count on your memory.

“Think about how it feels to you when someone doesn’t come through for you or keep his or her promise. Think about how every time the person does this, your disappointment and trust in him or her deteriorates more.” –  Sheri Stritof, Do You Keep Your Word?

Some people, especially men, need respect, which is a very powerful emotion. Respect means that people can count on and trust you. When a person’s actions speak louder than their words, they gain respect from others.

The opposite is also true. You will lose respect if people cannot count on or trust you. Your actions speak louder than your words.

“You Are What You Do – Now What You Say.”

Words Can Change Your Brain for Better or for Worse

 “Words are a reflection of our thoughts. Positive words come from positive thoughts, negative words from negative thoughts. It is really that simple.”

Image by CharuTyagi from Pixabay

Regulating Physical and Emotional Stress

In the book, “Words Can Change Your Brain,” by Dr. Andrew Newberg, a neuroscientist at Thomas Jefferson University, and Mark Robert Waldman, a communications expert, explain how a single word can influence the expression of genes that regulate physical and emotional stress.


Definite of genes: a specific sequence of nucleotides in DNA or RNA that is located usually on a chromosome and that is the functional unit of inheritance controlling the transmission and expression of one or more traits by specifying the structure of a particular polypeptide and especially a protein or controlling the function of other genetic material. – Merriam and Webster Dictionary

A more simplified definition states that a gene is made up of DNA and is the basic physical and functional unit of heredity. It controls the transmission and expression of one or more traits. Newberg and Waldman are telling us that a single word, positive or negative, can influence our genes that regulate our physical and emotional stress.

Positive words can modify our brain functions by increasing cognitive reasoning and activate the motivational centers of the brain, propelling them into action. Negative words prevent certain neurochemicals from being produced which contribute to stress management.

Determined To Change

In my last post, “Sticks and Stones May Break Your Bones…What Will Words Do”, I told you about Kathy, whose mother was very verbally abusive.

Image by MoteOo from Pixabay


“Just because we can’t see the wounds doesn’t mean they aren’t literally and physically there.” – Peg Streep, Psychology Today.

Vivian, Kathy’s mom began to realize the pain and harm she had inflicted on her daughters when she heard her seven-year-old talking to her doll with the same verbal abuse she used on them. Kathy, now 15 years old, was gone. Vivian had no idea where she was. She cried at night thinking about the damage she had done to Kathy. But, she still had Beth. She was determined to change things around for Beth and herself.

Angry Words

Her counselor gave her an article to read by Newberg and Waldman that said, “Angry words send alarm messages through the brain, and they partially shut down the logic-and-reasoning centers located in the frontal lobes.”

She didn’t know exactly what all of that meant, but she knew she would get so angry that sometimes that she couldn’t think at all, she’d actually see red and her face would turn red. Words would fly out of her mouth without any conscious thought. Thinking back to the few times she could remember getting angry, she was appalled at the language she used on her girls.


Her counselor suggested she join a support group that was working on a project called a “gratitude and appreciation journal.” They had been working on the project for a couple of weeks when Vivian started. She put in extra time on the project focusing and reflecting on positive language, thoughts, feelings, and emotions. She began to feel happier than she had ever felt.

She also kept a separate page for negative thoughts. She would rewrite the negative thoughts and feelings by using positive language. She was amazed at how the new thoughts made her feel.

One night as she worked on her journal, she looked at her negative page. She had written down thoughts and words she had heard herself say to herself and to others about her job, her life, herself, Kathy and Beth. She was surprised when she looked at her words. She had just written them down without much thought. She began rewriting her sentences.

Negative Sentences Rewritten

“I really hate the way I treated Kathy”

“I’m going to make Beth feel very loved.”
“I really hate being a single mom” “Being a single mom is actually fun. Beth and I get to do a lot of things together.”
“You know this job really sucks. I wish I could find a different one” “This job is going to work out great. I’ll more time with Beth and get paid enough to do some fun things.”
“Beth really gets on my nerves sometimes” “I love Beth so much. I’m going to make sure she knows it.”
“I always have bad luck with relationships.” “I’ve always had bad luck with relationships, until now. It’s changing.”
“I’ve had problems keeping a job.” “I’ve had problems keeping a job, until now. This one is going to work out just fine.”

“Positive self-talk makes you feel good about yourself and the things that are going on in your life. It’s like having an optimistic voice in your head that always looks on the bright side.” –

Analyzing Thoughts and Words

Vivian’s support group was instructed to keep track and analyze the thoughts and words they wrote down.  Did they see any themes or patterns in the conversations with themselves? With others? Did the positive words or thoughts outnumber the negative words or thoughts? Were their words positive or were they continually finding fault with themselves and/or others?

The leader of the support group said, “Our words are a powerful creative force. Genesis tells us that God’s words are creative. He spoke the world into existence. In Genesis chapter 1 verse 26, it says that God made mankind in His image. Therefore, man’s words are also creative. The words we say have the power to create life or death.”

“The tongue has the power of life and death,” (Proverbs 18:21b, NIV)

Vivian’s Prayer

As Vivian worked on her journal she thought about the messages she had been sending to Kathy, Beth, herself, and anyone else who listened. Her words were very often judgmental and mean, sentencing herself and the girls to a very hard, negative life void of peace, love, and happiness. Her thoughts gravitated to Beth’s words when she spoke to her doll and smashed the dolls head against the wall.

She had to change her world and Beth’s before it was too late. She wanted Beth to live in a world full of love, not judgment, a world of happiness and laughter, not miserable like she had been most of her life.

Photo by Rohit Guntur on Unsplash

Her thoughts went to Kathy, “Dear God, if there is any way of helping Kathy, please show me how.” She knew she’d probably never see Kathy again. She had no idea what kind of a life she had sentenced her to when she gave that old man permission to marry her. She was only 15.”

Tears ran down Vivian’s face, “Please God.”

“Whether you think you can or you think you can’t, you’re right!” ~ Henry Ford

Sticks and Stones May Break Your Bones…What Will Words Do

Image by NjoyHarmony from PixabaySticks and stone can leave broken bones and bruised bodies, but verbal abuse can have devastating effects that can last for years. How To Create Your World With Words


A Normal Pre-Teen Girl

Kathy’s mother frequently told her that she was no good. She’d never amount to anything. She was a disappointment to the whole family. Nobody would ever want her.

One day when Kathy was 12, she and her little sister, Beth, who was seven years younger, overheard her mother talking on the phone, “I just don’t know what I’m going to do with Kathy. She is such an embarrassment to me. I just don’t know what’s going to happen to her. She’ll probably get pregnant then I’ll have another kid to raise. Sometimes I wish she’d never been born.” Beth put her arms around Kathy as tears ran down her face. “She doesn’t mean it,” she’s just upset because you got a “C” on that last test. Kathy began accepting her mother’s words as truth.

Image by MoteOo from Pixabay

Looking For Love

She desperately needed someone to love her. She started looking for love in all the wrong places. Just like mother had said, she got pregnant at 14. Her mother was furious. She found a home for unwed mothers. Unbeknownst to Kathy, Mom made arrangements for the home to adopt out the baby and not allow Kathy to see it.

Kathy hadn’t received any visitors or even a phone call. The home told her that arrangements had been made for her father to pick her up when she was ready to leave. Kathy thought that was very strange since she had never even seen her father. But, she had learned years ago not to cause any waves. She said nothing.

The day came when she was to leave. She walked to the main office with backpack in hand. She saw an older man, the right age to be her father, talking to the clerk at the front counter. As she approached he said, “Hi, darling, are you ready to go? Do you have everything?” She nodded and exited the building as he held the door open.

“Who are you?” she asked.

“I’m your soon to be husband,” he said with a big smile.

“You’re old enough to be my dad.”

“I know. But, I wanted a wife and your mother wanted a home for you. It worked out perfectly. We’re going to New York City where you can get married under eighteen with a notarized document, which I have from your mother. I have your wedding dress in the car.”

He continued rambling about their perfect day.

“What’s your name?” she asked. “And where do we live?”

He filled in all the missing pieces for her, but her mind couldn’t comprehend exactly what was happening to her.

“How could mom do this to me? Well, at least I’ll have a place to live.”

Kathy wondered what kind of prison she was being sentenced to at age 15. “Is this what the rest of my life is going to be like?”

Words Will Never Harm You

Remember the old adage, ‘Sticks and stones will break my bones, but words will never harm me’.

The earliest citation of it that I can find is from an American periodical with a largely black audience, The Christian Recorder, March 1862. It infers that true courage consists in doing what is right, despite the jeers and sneers of other hateful people.

Many of our parents told us this when we’d cry because someone said something mean to us. Our parents brushed it off as “child’s play”, but the mean words hurt. We’d wonder how it could hurt so badly when our parents said: “words would never harm us.”

I suppose it was useful in its time, but more recently we see how words can actually cause more long term damage than broken bones. Martin Teicher M.D., Ph.D., and others have discovered in their researcher that during the middle school years, when a child’s brain is actively developing, peer bullying and verbal abuse from any source can cause physical changes in the brain.


Emotional Pain versus Physical Pain

There is a definite connection between physical and emotional pain. We suffer as much from a “broken heart” as we do from “broken bones”. We are hardwired to feel emotional pain as much as physical pain.

People who have had severe emotional pain have stated that they’d rather have the breaks and bruises that would show rather than the invisible emotional pain of verbal abuse. Verbal abuse can be very difficult to prove if complaints are filed, whereas, physical abuse is very evident.

Lollie Bar states in her blog, “But ultimately, it’s often words that can do the most damage. Other people’s words have an incredible power to affect how we see and feel about ourselves. While positive words of encouragement can uplift and inspire us, negative words cut to the core and resonate over and over again.”

Let’s take a few steps backward. Too many times the verbal abuse starts in the home when the children are small.

Have you heard a parent, a teacher, or a coach yell at kids or call them a name? Some adults seem to think that yelling at their kids or someone else’s kids, is a natural and effective means of discipline. For some parents,  yelling is the standard way of discipline. When they get really frustrated with them they start calling the kids names. When the frustration progresses to anger they begin cussing at them.

Another form of verbal abuse is silence, a passive-aggressive way of control other people and circumstances. From personal experience, it’s as difficult to deal with as the yelling.

“Just because we can’t see the wounds doesn’t mean they aren’t literally and physically there.” – Peg Streep, Psychology Today.


Long Term Effect of Verbal Abuse

Research shows that verbal abuse can undermine a child’s self-esteem, damage his/her ability to trust others and form good relationships in the teenage years and as adults. It can also cause problems with their school work and social skills. Verbal abuse from an adult can be just as destructive as physical or sexual abuse. It can also put them at risk for depression and anxiety.

“Words can be as damaging to the mind as physical blows are to the body.” – Patricia Evans author of Teen Torment: Overcoming Verbal Abuse at Home and at School.

Long Term Effects

  • They become victims of abuse later in life
  • They become abusive themselves – abuse victims often become abusers because that’s what they learned.
  • They often develop depression, anxiety, and become self-destructive later in life

Our Kids Learn To Do What We Do Better Than We Did

Mom received an email that Kathy’s baby had been adopted and her father had picked her up. She sat in the rocking chair in a very pensive mood, wondering how Kathy was. Had she made a bad mistake?

Beth was in her room playing when Mom heard her voice.

“You’re no good. You’ll never amount to anything. You are a disappointment to this whole family. Nobody will ever want you.”

Tears filled Mom’s eyes as she listened to Beth’s voice coming from the other room.

Then she heard a loud crash. She quietly got out of her chair and walked to the doorway to Beth’s room. Beth had picked up her doll and smashed the doll’s head against the wall, “That’ll teach you to be good.” Beth stood looking at the dolls head busted open laying on the floor.

“What have I done?” Mom began sobbing.

She began to realize that her verbal and emotional abuse had become a pattern of behavior. Now, Beth had picked up the pattern. “If she’s doing this to her doll, what will she be like when she’s an adult?”

Mom Becoming Self-Aware

The guilt of sending Kathy away had begun to eat at Mom. She began reading about verbal and physical abuse. She thought back to when she was Beth and Kathy’s ages. She had been raised by her grandmother because her mother was an alcoholic. She knew Grandma loved her, but she was too old to deal with an active girl. Grandma often cussed her out and used some of the same words that she had used on Kathy.

Looking back, she realized that Grandma was never as cruel or mean as she’d been to Kathy. The articles stated that Most experts believe that children who are raised in abusive homes learn that violence is an effective way to resolve conflicts and problems.” Domestic Violence Roundtable. It also stated that the patterns of abuse are often more intense with the next generation.

She realized that she was Beth’s role model. Beth was already displaying abusive behaviors with her dolls. It was too late for her to change for Kathy, but perhaps she could change Beth’s future by changing her own behavior.

She started going to a counselor and a support group. She learned to recognize when her own emotions began to rise. Instead of allowing herself to say mean things to Beth she took a break and went into a different room. She learned how to take several deep breaths and allow her emotions to calm. She also learned how to deal with the present issue only and not allowing past issues to come into the conversation.

She wanted Beth to feel loved unconditionally. She learned how to calmly correct Beth’s behavior instead of abusing her. She emphasized the message, “I don’t like what you did; and I still love you.”


Her counselor taught her to use the RETHINK  method of dealing with children:

Recognize your feelings.

Empathize with your child.

Think of the situation differently. (Try using humor.)

Hear what your child is saying.

Integrate your love with your angry thoughts.

Notice your body’s reactions to feeling anger and to calming down.

Keep your attention on the present problem.

by Dena Warfield

How to Create Your World With Your Words


“For beautiful eyes, look for the good in others; for beautiful lips, speak only words of kindness; and for poise, walk with the knowledge that you are never alone.” – Audrey Hepburn


Photo by Kyle Broad on Unsplash

Kathy had been through two abusive relationships.  She felt alone and unloved until she met James. When her car broke down on the back roads of East Tennessee, James stopped to help then waited until the tow truck arrived.

Their relationship blossomed. He got off work before she did. He’d have dinner on the table waiting, house cleaned, and the dog walked when she got home. He told her how he appreciated her dedication to putting her life back together. He soon told her how much he loved her. His words were positive and uplifting. Words she had never heard. She knew they’d be together forever, no doubt in her mind.


“Love is not only something you feel, it is something you do.” – David Wilkerson


Kathy’s mother had told her that she was no good. She’d never amount to anything. Nobody would ever want her. When she was old enough to go out on her own, she moved out, away from her mother. But, her mother’s words still played in the back of her mind.

Her mother’s words created her core beliefs about herself.

Core Beliefs

Core beliefs are created during childhood. Our experiences create our core beliefs which create our automatic thoughts, which are continually playing in the background. They direct how we evaluate new events and situations, continuously shaping who we are and what we are capable of.  They control how we feel, what we say to ourselves and others, and dictate our attitudes and behaviors.

Most of the thoughts that go through our minds are called “automatic thoughts”. We don’t consciously create them.  They are based on our core beliefs about ourselves, our past experiences, the world around us, and how we relate to that world.  They can be words, images, memories, physical sensations, imagined sounds or, based on intuition, a sense of knowing.  Often they bombard our mind very quickly causing us to jump to conclusions before we have the time to assess the situation.  Because they are automatic and coming in rapid-fire, we tend to believe them without questioning their validity or accuracy.  These automatic thoughts then create an emotional, physical, reaction.


Words Are Creative

According to Genesis chapter 1, God spoke the world into existence:

  • Vs 3. And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light.
  • Verse 4 through 25 continue to tell how God spoke everything into existence.
  • Vs 26. Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals,[a] and over all the creatures that move along the ground.”


God’s words are creative. He spoke the world into existence. In verse 26, it says that God made mankind in His image. Therefore, man’s words are also creative.

“The tongue has the power of life and death,” (Proverbs 18:21b, NIV)

 Kathy’s world had been created by the negative hurtful words spoken by her mother. At age 15 her first child was born and taken away from her, as ordered by her mother. By age sixteen she married a man considerably older who continued the negative treatment and abuse. After fifteen years of marriage, Kathy gained enough self-confidence to walk away from the abuse, only to get into another physically abusive relationship.


Why Didn’t She Leave Earlier

First, of all, Kathy now had a son. If she left she would have to leave her son with his father. She was afraid for his safety and well-being. She kept telling herself she’d leave when he was older, that she didn’t have the means to support him, etc.

Abuse is about power and control. Kathy’s ex told her he’d hunt her down and drag her back if she ever left. At that point the negative, derogatory words from her mother ran through her mind – “Nobody would hire me, I’m not good enough, I would never be able to support my son on my own. What would he do to me if I left.”

Reasons for staying in an abusive relationship:

  • Fear: Fear of what would happen to her. She could see herself living in a cardboard box under a bridge.
  • Rationalized that the abuse was normal: Experience taught her that this was how a man treated his wife. Her mother’s words were always playing in the back of her mind that she was no good and didn’t deserve to be treated any better.
  • Embarrassment or Shame: The victim often finds it very difficult to admit to the abuse. They feel it’s their fault – “If you hadn’t done…you wouldn’t get hurt. It’s your fault.” In some cases, a parent may say there’s no way they can leave, so they feel trapped. They have to go against the abuser plus their parent.
  • Low Self-Esteem: Because of Kathy’s mother’s words and her ex’s words she had very low self-esteem. She wasn’t sure she would survive.
  • Lack of Money/Resources: According to the, financial abuse is very common. Kathy had never supported herself. Her ex told her she’d never make it on her own, she wasn’t smart enough to hold a job.

Another Abusive Relationship

It can be especially hard to identify warning signs at the beginning of a relationship, when abusive partners are typically on their best behavior, hiding controlling tendencies until a bond has been established. Survivors of abuse are more susceptible to deception. Their need for love and acceptance blur the lines making it more difficult to see the truth. Kathy also had to deal with low self-esteem as a result of her mother’s negative words. Abuse was the norm.


Creative Words

Kathy’s mother’s words created fear, low self-esteem and set her up for further abuse in her romantic relationships. As in Proverbs 18:21 life or death are in the words we speak.

James’s words created life. They started creating a positive atmosphere around Kathy. For the first time in her life, she began to feel loved. Her self-esteem began to grow. Fear about her future began to dissipate.

She began writing a new script for her life that was positive, full of hope and love.

The words we use create a self-fulfilling prophecy, either positive or negative.


Words Are Powerful

“Words are singularly the most powerful force available to humanity. We can choose to use this force constructively with words of encouragement, or destructively using words of despair. Words have energy and power with the ability to help, to heal, to hinder, to hurt, to harm, to humiliate and to humble.” – Yehuda Berg

The words we speak are creative. Our words have the power to create new possibilities and opportunities or to close any possibilities. Power to build positive, loving relationships or damage them. Power to lift ourselves and others up or pull everyone down.

When we say things like – “It’s impossible…”, “It won’t work…”, “I can’t…”, “I’m totally hopeless…”, “I had no choice…” or “I’m not good enough…”  – we undermine our power, our opportunities, and limit our future in some way.

Margie Warrell mentioned in her blog that, “Psychologists have found that our subconscious mind interprets what it hears very literally. The words that come out of your mouth therefore create the reality you inhabit. For better or worse.”

Mark 11:23 (KJV) “For verily I say unto you, That whosoever shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; and shall not doubt in his heart, but shall believe that those things which he saith shall come to pass; he shall have whatsoever he saith.”

The Bible, as well as, modern psychology tells us that our words are creative. The words we use create our reality.

“You have the power to reframe where you are right now. That meeting, the one you dread every week, you could choose not to listen to Debbie Downer (or stop being her), and instead frame it a different way. That conversation, the one that’s littered with gossip and cynicism, you could reframe it. When circumstances appears hopeless, you can paint a picture of hope.” – Medium Post by Bayside Church


Hey Are You Listening


Not listening“Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.” 
― Stephen R. Covey, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful 





“I need you to talk to Mary for me,” Jeff said. “She’s not listening to me. I need you to explain my ADHD to her. She just doesn’t understand that it’s not my fault. It’s the ADHD.”

Jeff knew I had a degree in Psychology and certification in Life Coaching, so he presumed that I would automatically take his side and go to bat for him with Mary. Instead, I started asking him questions, like “What does Mary want?”

In response, I got, “You have to talk to her, she just doesn’t understand that I have ADHD and it’s not my fault. I can’t help but act this way. You have to get her to understand.”

I wanted to scream into the phone, “Hey, are you listening to me?” But instead, I once again asked, “What does Mary want?”

“You just have to make her understand that I can’t live without her. I’d have nothing left to live for. She has to understand that she is my whole world.”

After talking to Jeff several times by phone and after some research into the tactics of people with uncontrolled ADHD, I found he was indulging in Reactive Language Communication. He wasn’t taking responsibility for any of his words or behavior and he was also trying to Gaslight me, as well as, Mary.




The term “gaslight” is taken from the 1944 movie Gaslight, based on Patrick Hamilton’s 1938 play, “Gas Light” where a woman’s husband slowly manipulates her into believing she’s insane. According to, “Gaslighting is a manipulation strategy that makes someone question their self-worth and sanity.” It’s done in an attempt to fulfill the perpetrator’s self-centered needs for control over others, financial gain, or conformity to his beliefs and perceptions.



“Gaslighting is a tactic in which a person or entity, in order to gain more power, makes a victim question their reality. It works much better than you may think.”Psychology Today


After many phone calls of asking the same question, he finally answered, “She wants me to leave. But, she just doesn’t understand. Please talk to her.”

Due to the processing challenges for people with ADHD, it often leaves others questioning their authenticity. Are they for real or are they “Gaslighting?” It is possible for people with ADHD to be misunderstood and labeled unfairly as “lying”, “untrustworthy”, or “manipulative”, when they aren’t gaslighting. Yet, people with ADHD, like anyone else, can be manipulative, untrustworthy, and intentionally misleading.


Back to the beginning

From all appearances, Jeff was a good guy. He had an 8-year-old son who he seemed to adore. He had been at our house several times. As I stepped back and watched, I decided he was not welcome anymore. Every word out of his mouth seemed to promote himself and his viewpoint.

Mary and Jeff met by accident. She drove a small bus for a job. She was out in the “boonies” when her bus broke down. As she sat alongside the road waiting for the mechanic, Jeff happened along making deliveries of his own. He waited with her until the tow truck arrived. He seemed to be very caring and sensitive.

Mary had just gotten out of a very abusive relationship. Jeff’s attention felt good. He seemed to genuinely care about her. She worked very long hours so he’d go to her apartment, walk her dog, and have a hot meal waiting for her when she got home. Who, of us women, wouldn’t like the attention?

Later, she acknowledged that the attention and care she received hit a tender place in her heart. She had always been the caregiver. She had never been treated so well until the other shoe dropped.

About five or six months after meeting, Jeff said he had an accident at work and hurt his knee. He sued the employer and claimed he couldn’t work, he lost the case.

Tender-hearted Mary was supportive in helping him out any way she could. He eventually manipulated her into totally supporting him. But every time she did something he didn’t like he’d send her hundreds of text messages and emails describing how she was wrong, everything was her fault until she almost began to believe it – Gaslighting.

It ended in several court cases, but, fortunately, Mary was able to get out of the relationship without it bankrupting her.

Gaslighting – The Exception

I am not saying all people who have ADHD or other disorders engage in “gaslighting”. I’ve read many of the comments in blogs, like, where people tell their stories. My guess is that most people with ADHD do not engage in “gaslighting,” but Jeff seemed to believe his own lies.

Jeff was diagnosed with ADHD as a child. They started him on medication to stem some of the effects of the ADHD, but his mother and he didn’t like the lethargic effect it had on him. He was taken off the meds, instead of adjusting the dosage.

From talking to his mother and his dad, who also had ADHD, it appears that he was coddled as a child. He seemed to get everything he wanted when he wanted it. At age 40, his parents, who were retired, still took care of him and criticized him, instead of helping him to find ways to work around the disorder to have a normal life.


ADHD and Communication

People with ADHD are easily distracted. They often “zone out” during a conversation which makes them appear to not be interested. When they do and realize it, they may try to pick up the conversation and remember what they missed, which contributes to more “zone out”.  Anxiety and frustration may also be associated with the loss of attention, complicating the issue.

My husband has ADHD. We’ve created some “workarounds” to deal with the “zone out” times. I can tell when he’s not present in a conversation. Oh yes, he makes noise like he’s paying attention, but I always ask what I said, which brings him back to the conversation. It has become a standing joke between us instead of a point of contention.

When I ask what I’ve said, he can usually give me five works then it gets lost. At that point, I have his attention and repeat what I said.

Communication Workaround

“Sometimes all a person wants is an empathetic ear; all he or she needs is to talk it out. Just offering a listening ear and an understanding heart for his or her suffering can be a big comfort.”
― Roy T. Bennett

When we started working on our communication it was frustrating for both of us, especially me, when I’d have to repeat everything I said. Sometimes I’d be talking and notice the “light was not on – nobody home”, so I’d stop talking. Sometimes I’d walk away and he didn’t even notice. He gave no indication that I was even in the room. He was actually looking at his phone or computer, pretending to listen to me.

At first, I got offended. As we began working on the situation, I made the decision to not take it personally. When he’d “zone out” I’d get his attention and ask if he was ready to listen. It became must less stressful for both of us.

Psychology Today states, “Complicating matters, it becomes hard for the person with ADHD to know where to exactly attribute their communication problems. Was it misunderstanding information in the first place, seeing the negative reactions of others, feeling added communication insecurities, or, then again, having the original memory lapses and distortions? Sadly, there are usually no easy answers.”

When I began taking the “zone out” times, distractions, or lack of attentiveness, as a matter of fact, we were able to look at the different situations and find “workarounds” that worked for both of us. Is it easy? No. But, it has saved our marriage and helped us both to grow together and individually.