Today I want to talk to you about the power of words, and how important it is for us to use words [in a way] that’s good for us. Let me explain.
The other day, I was watching a football game. Minnesota was playing the Philadelphia Eagles, and one of the players, a running back, did not have a great game. Early in the game he fumbled, which means he dropped the ball and the other team picked it up. They lost the game. After the game, he went and looked at his social media and he had hundreds of racist, horrible comments in his direct messages. People saying awful things to him just because he had had a bad game. He ended up making a post, and said something about, “You know, under this helmet, I’m a human.”
It makes me think, people don’t talk like that in their natural life. We don’t walk up to people and say horrifically mean awful things. It’s just not what we do. It’s not who we are. But yet that’s what we do online in our social media.
Even for me, when I make videos on my Youtube channel, we have a series called Therapist Reacts, where I make a commentary on popular news stories, things going on in the world, and I share psychological aspects of those stories. One of the things that has shocked me is the horrible, awful things that people say in the comments section or even direct messages to me.
Now, the reason I bring this up is because, we don’t talk like that in our normal life. And there’s a reason why. If I see somebody walking down the street and they’re wearing a shirt that I don’t think makes them look good, I would not walk up to that person and say, “You look awful in this shirt.” I would not body shame them. I would not call them names. I certainly wouldn’t racially attack them. Why? Because when we use words like that, it’s actually bad for us. It does not feel good. So thus we don’t do it.
We need to have that same level of discipline when we’re participating online. And it’s why I think Solution Focused Brief Therapy is such an amazing way to practice therapy to me.
People ask me all the time, more, recently, why I am always so positive and energetic. And I’d love to tell you, “This is my personality. It’s what I do.” But I honestly think a significant part of why I am this way is because I’ve been practicing Solution Focused Brief Therapy almost 20 years.
So for almost 20 years, I’ve been using words in language to uplift people. I’ve been working as a psychotherapist and I’m talking to people that are in the depths of despair, really challenging things, lots of opportunity for me to make commentary about what they’re struggling about. But instead, I ask them questions to point them towards positive things, beautiful things, things that stand out to them in a positive way. And we get uplifted and it makes me feel better because those words are better for my soul, better for my spirit, better for my humanist, better for who I am.
And when I watched this game, and I was aware he did not have a good game, and I saw the story the next day, it really resonated with me because I see the exact same thing happening in the comments section of my videos, and in my own social media messages. It’s really, really terrible. And we need to be different. We need to be different.
Now, I’m not saying that because it affects me. I mean, to be honest with you, I’d rather not see those things, but I don’t lose any sleep. It doesn’t cause me harm, but trust me, it’s worse for the person speaking. It’s worse for the person typing. It’s worse for the person attacking, than it is for me.
Let’s be who we are. Let’s use words that are congruent to how we function. It just doesn’t happen in society. No one would walk by and and attack me for the clothes that I’m wearing. No one would walk by and attack me for all of those things. It’s just not how we operate. But it happens all the time online. And be honest with you, it happens in therapy too. It’s such an easy place to use negative language even when we don’t mean to.
It’s what I think is so beautiful about Solution Focused Brief Therapy is no matter what, I’m always gonna try to use words and use my ability to ask questions to lift you up and make you feel better about yourself.
And the secondary consequence of that is I accidentally lift myself up and make me feel better about me. I’ve been thinking about these things a lot recently just because of what’s been happening in my world on social media, what’s been happening in my world as I work on TV projects and doing other things. And I’m getting exposed to more people on being exposed in front of more people.
But I’ve also been thinking about it as I watch what happens and people asking me how I stay so positive in this world. And the honest answer is, for 20 years I’ve been talking to people about being inspired and uplifted, and I think that’s affected me in a positive way.
And if that’s true, then all of us tearing each other down on social media, that’s gonna affect you in a negative way too.
Now look, I’m not perfect. I’m sure I’ve said things that has upset people. And, I’m sure I’ve failed at my attempt to uplift people. But, that’s been my aim every single day and it helps me.
I wanna make sure you guys understand that words are super powerful. So let’s not be a society or even a community or even a world where we tolerate that or where that’s acceptable even, because it’s just not good for the person using those words.
Now look, I know the internet is gonna do what the internet does. I hope that my corner of the internet could be a place where we share love, hope, and kindness, and we uplift one another because it’s good for everybody within the community.
That’s the message for today.