Far-Reaching Words: Impact and Resonance

Hope all of you had a wonderful weekend. (They’re never long enough :)) Thought I’d share some thoughts appropriate to a PEM (Positive Energy Monday) to start off the week!

Not too long ago, within the space of two days, at least two people told me how different things I said to each one resonated with them.

One person went so far as to tell me I’d “saved her life” when I told her she might feel a certain (negatively-perceived) way about a given situation for the rest of her days. She felt that freed her, as if those words gave her permission to feel the way she still does this many years after the inciting string of incidents.

Another person was dealing in anxiety over another situation and talked to me a bit about it. She also was very clear about ‘not feeling ready’ to address the issue directly by taking certain suggested steps she knew—from her own experience—would be helpful. She said I asked her, “What do you want for your daughter?” For whatever reason, that simple question worked at her end.

Funny. Flattered as I was by both people I couldn’t pinpoint either occasion. Of course I was very glad someone was moved or touched by something I said.

This also brings me back to something I know I’ve shared here before, and frequently quote, when chatting with others who hold back. This applies to writing, interactions with others, etc.

I attended a workshop where multi-published author Jane Porter spoke. Ironically enough, what resonated with me tied into this very topic of touching others. I was sitting in the front row, close enough to see her eyes suddenly appear glassy-wet. Her voice turned very passionate as she told us to never underestimate the power of our words and who we might reach by putting them out there.

Makes me think too, of those occasions when I was on the receiving end of those types of comments. My favorite came from a playground mom whose daughters have frequently shared classes with both my sons since kindergarten.

We were talking about exercising and how to make time and/or stick to a routine. This woman stated her husband HAD to be out the door at six-thirty every morning or he wouldn’t make it to work on time. Since she was a stay-at-home mom whose husband worked long hours, she needed to get in her daily run in before he left for the day.

“I had to be back before my husband left for work. My shoes were next to the bed, and my feet were in them before my eyes were open.”

She told me that while we waited for our kids to exit school when our older ones were in third grade. That was six years ago and I think of her every time I’m not in the mood to reach for my sneakers. She motivated me to move then and still does. Whenever I get the chance, I remind her how her words impacted me.

The most powerful (and probably life-changing) thing someone said to me came from a coworker at my first job, someone close in age who is an occupational therapist too. He is Asian, brilliant and an excellent healthcare professional. During what was—to this day—the lowest time I ever experienced in a work setting, a time when I doubted every skill I ever had and was even asking for employment applications at the toll booth I drove through daily to get to my job site, this man saved my professional life.

That day, I was getting ready to change rotations and feeling as if I’d been demoted. Another co-worker and friend, who had only four months more experience than I was going from a first-level supervisory position to the next. Due to lack of confidence and resultant mistakes I made from being too nervous to even ask questions, I was lucky I had my job. (My director liked me.)

I was supposed to be giving report to this guy who would be taking over my outpatient cases. He waited until no one else was around and very quietly stated, “You have better skills. She just knows how to be organized and look better.”

I went into that new rotation with a different attitude. Very soon, I was in counseling and attended some groups where people with similar issues shared and networked. Within a few months I achieved a first-level supervisory position. Nine months after that, I left that hospital to take on a department of my own—a one-person show that I thoroughly enjoyed for the next five years. Interestingly enough, my first day in that new position I had to make a pair of splints that I’d goofed up terribly in my previous job—badly enough that my Asian friend was told to take over and make them for me.

In my new job, all I did was drape the material over the patient’s hands and let both those splints take shape on their own. First try was a perfect fit. Blew my mind how that skill was there; the right setting allowed it to simply flow. (Maybe a topic for another post?)

Your turn: how have you impacted someone and/or how have they impacted/inspired you?

Wishing everyone a wonderful day,

Joanna

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9 thoughts on “Far-Reaching Words: Impact and Resonance

  1. It’s scary/good how our words can make or break a person and you may or may never know it. My mother said something to me one time that to this day I ponder, try to see her point of view on it. I can’t. I guess, even though she’s been gone for nearly thirty years, it’s one of those things that had she lived longer we would have just had to agree to disagree on.

    I’m happy your co-worker’s words worked in a positive way for you.

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  2. Wrongly so, I remember harsh words spoken to me for some unknown reason which hurt me to this day. One young friend accused me of “rejecting” her because I said I didn’t have time to talk on the phone every day, but I’d rather meet once a month, have lunch, and go shopping–so we could really get caught up. To me that was reasonable since I worked and she didn’t, but her fragile ego took it the wrong way. How I wish I could take those words back–she hates me to this day.
    I do have a comforting way of speaking to people, and have been told that, hugged for it, and sent cards for it. Maybe I’m trying to make up for that deed I did so many decades ago.

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    1. I have one former friend who I prefer never crossing paths again. Some folks, like the person you referred to, are just wired to take offense and not let things go. What you intended will never register with someone like that. Too bad. Sounds like she’s missing out on a wonderful relationship. Thanks so much for your virtual visit 🙂

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  3. Some things we’ll never know for sure and hubby and I are on our 6th year of having decided we’ll never agree on a certain topic. Live and let live–that’s one saying that definitely resonates with me!

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    1. Thanks, Veronica. I always refer to that coworker as my silent friend. Nowadays, I realize he was my near-silent savior. So glad you stopped in!

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  4. I think we would be in awe if we could see how God moves people in and out of our lives and how often we are given the opportunity to be a conduit for His love. Each day is filled with opportunity if we would only open our eyes (and hearts) but unfortunately we too often don’t see. Each day our actions and inactions have an impact on those we come in contact with, whether they be family, friends, co-workers or complete strangers.

    The old adage says things come in threes. You mentioned two instances where your words resonated with someone, so let me be the third. Most likely, as in the other two instances, you could not pinpoint the occasion, but I remember it like it was yesterday. It was another “life-saving” moment and you altered the course of my life with several kind words that probably just came naturally from you.

    Though it is many years coming – and you don’t even know what I am referring to – Thank you.

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    1. Okay, Brian, you have me feeling both humbled and terribly intrigued. You’re right: I don’t know that occasion to which you refer but you are very welcome. Thank YOU for taking the time to read and to share your very kind words. Uh…glad to be of service?

      I am in firm agreement with your reference to how God works in our lives. Just finished reading Melba Patillo Beals’ WHITE IS A STATE OF MIND. She likens life to a gigantic puzzle in which we are handed one piece at a time, and have to trust that God will send the instructions (for fitting them together). I’m honored you feel I’ve been a puzzle piece in your journey. Again, I thank you.

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