“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
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 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 Hotline.org, 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.
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