The Power of Words
Have you ever taken a casual comment to heart? Perhaps you’ve left a once favourite item of clothing hanging in the closet after someone suggested it didn’t flatter you? Maybe you’ve achieved something amazing, spurred on by someone else’s confident “you can do it”? Words are powerful things! I’ve been thinking a lot about the way a comment that was probably forgotten in minutes by the person who spoke it can sometimes exert a powerful influence over our life for years if we let it. I touched on this when I introduced myself. Here’s a little more about how the language of others has shaped my life.
The power of words
I was five when I heard a classmate laugh and point out helpfully “you run funny” as I finished a race. Rather than question another child’s judgement, I accepted my flaw and avoided running in public wherever possible for nearly four decades.
At thirty three, my questions about how MS was likely to affect me sent harder to hear words into my life. “In ten years, I don’t believe you’ll be capable of doing the job you do now, from a mobility perspective”. Too easy to believe as I waited for lifts, unable to manage even one flight of handrail-free stairs at the hospital.
Five years on, hard won handrails finally adorned both sides of the hospital stairs. Four years more, the predicted demise of my career just twelve months away, I was torn between that childhood taunt and an unexpected determination to learn to run. The words of a very wise woman got me started: “anyone who cares what you look like when you run is clearly not working as hard as you are!”
So I run. Not fast, and not elegantly, but most times I get there. Sometimes I fall over, but more often I smile at the dog walkers and marvel at the privilege of having legs that keep going, however funny they might look to some.
Almost exactly ten years on from that dire prediction, I completed my first 5km MS Fun Run. It’s become an annual event for my team of three “Little Engines that Can”. We run because we think we can – and we all go to work on Monday.
The Unaffected One